BREAD AND THE BIBLE
The Bible opens with these words, “In the beginning Elohim (Gods in plural) created,” and one expects a definition or at least a description of Elohim; instead we get a description of their creation of a universe with the world in particular as a place for life with man in charge. The Bible is all about man and his understanding, and at least man’s attempt to understand his Creators and their purpose for man’s life on earth. Simply to exist and do discover the reason for being in this world, and man will find many reasons, is the need for land to make bread, will always be the primary reason. Israel’s history is about a piece of real estate where one small family of humanity wants to live and needs to live to raise their own bread. That same reason motivates all men.
The word “bible” is the Old French plural for the Greek “ta biblia” and it means “the books.” The Bible is not one book but a compilation of sixty-six writings about a people that were singled out from all other people to represent a way of life that was different from any other people on earth. To the people that live by the Bible, it has been a text or guide in all aspects of their lives. The need for bread was and is a universal concern. The people in the Bible are an example for the rest of the world of what happens when man does not prepare for unexpected food shortages. It has been a reliable guide for four thousand years and its predictions have been accurate. It does not camouflage the truth regarding cause and effect. Man’s exploitation of the earth will result in irreprehensible consequence and the need for bread will be at the center of it (Revelation 6:8; II Peter 3:10).
In our study of bread we have touched on many roles bread plays in every person’s life and it has been the major reason why there is so much trouble in the world. The future of man’s survival depends on his willingness to subject himself to the earth that is the source for producing bread and maintaining this life. The destruction of arable and fertile land for military purposes, building programs and environmental protection in favor of animals and birds will doom humanity on this earth. The Bible has man: male and female multiply and in charge of controlling the land, the sea and the air. He was given dominion over the birds, the fish, the cattle, and the plants. He was ordered to subdue the earth and not let it turn into a jungle or a desert (Genesis 1:26-30).
Genesis Chapters Two and Three are not a continuation of Genesis One, but a separate account of a single man’s relationship to the earth. Man is a separate project and not part of creation as a whole as in Genesis One. The inspired writer was a Levite, a supporter of the Sabbath and it is the Sabbath ideology that governs the food production in the Bible. The earth without management was unproductive. It was the Creator, rather the Lord of the gods (Hebrew plural Elohim), made the earth productive with moisture and later on with rain. The earth was alive and brought forth all kinds of vegetation, edible and inedible. Man too was shaped out of the earth and then endowed with a managerial spirit of the Creators. He felt somewhat lost and God took one of his ribs and made him a helpmate. This couple is not put out into the world but in a garden for the purpose to till and maintain it. He was given specific instructions to be discrete about eating from one tree that would kill him. Both, Adam and Eve ate, were evicted from the garden and put out into the world were they had to produce bread by sweat and toil and learn to face death. Food was the reason why man began to die and it has continued to be the reason into our the wrong bread or food.
There is a gap or a difference between the earth in Genesis One and the Garden or Paradise in Genesis Two and Three. Then there is the mystery of two people that were evicted because they disobeyed God or nature by eating the wrong food. They are put out into the world were they become farmers with their oldest son Cain being the heir and the younger son being a shepherd. In the world, the Adams and their two sons are not the only people. According to Genesis Four, Cain’s fatal crime against his brother Abel was public knowledge and he was banned from being a farmer. Cain was regarded as a curse others feared and he was in danger of being apprehended and executed. He leaves the people that could harm him and ends up living among the Nods that welcomed Cain, allowed him to marry one of their own and assisted him in becoming a builder of the first city. Who were the people that Cain feared and felt that they drove him from his land? The author assigned the job to God driving Cain off his land, but then contradicts himself by having God protecting him from those that might kill him. He had to hide from these friends of Abel. The mark that God put on Cain was respected by the Nods, more so than by the people Cain left. It is unlikely that his parents and Seth, his second brother not yet born, had mayhem in their hearts.
The first conflict over bread among the Bible people was in Genesis Chapter Four. We are introduced to two brothers, Cain the farmer and Abel the shepherd. We are told that jealousy was the reason why Cain killed his brother. I have pastured animals and they did get into the grain field and I too was punished for being negligent. I think that Abel’s sheep or goats damaged Cain’s crops more than once that incited his brother’s anger. The harsh truth is that a person will defend his source of bread and kill for it. Hunger will drive people to extremes and morality or the sword will not stop them from behaving irresponsibly. Horror incidents of cannibalism are reported in the Bible (II Kings 6:28). In January 1945, we along with thousands of refugees were fleeing form the Soviet army. At nightfall, we rested and fed the horses and slept one hour. It was while we were getting ready to move on, people were desperately looking for their dead mother. She had died suddenly and the people had no time to bury her. They wrapped her body in a blanket and put it on top of their wagon to be kept refrigerated by the cold. That night the body had disappeared. Another lady was looking for her child that disappeared from a sled tied behind a refugee wagon. This happened just in one day on January 19, 1945. There was much concern and confusion over missing objects, animals and people. At that time, the Russian tanks were less than an hour behind us, and the caravan of refugees barely moved. I was fourteen at the time and the driver of our horses. We were all hoping to find food and shelter in another country because we belonged to the people Russia had sold to the Germans and we could never go back where we were born and where we left our land and our bread.
The Levitical writer tells us that Cain left Elohim and joined the Nods who were nomads and people of nature. They moved with their herds and seasons. The exiled Cain found shelter with the Nods, befriended them and married one of the ladies. He, apparently, taught them to settle, build shelters, cultivate the land and grew food and raise crops for bread. With their help, Cain also distinguished himself as a builder. The Bible credits him with building the first city, with being the father very talented children and grandchildren. One learned how to domesticate animals, one invented the harp and the flute and one became a polygamist by killing the husband of another woman. His name was Lamech and he was feared seven times more than Cain was (Genesis 5). The offspring of Cain and his Nod wife were the children of men. It was a race that did not belong to the Adam lineage. Adam had another son and he too made a pact with Cain and his Nods and their intermarriage produced the Nephilim or the mighty men that endorsed the life-style of Lamech and brought about The Flood of Noah. The Genesis Account lists Noah’s family as the only survivor; yet, centuries later the Nephilim were long established dwellers of Canaan (Numbers 13:33). Noah went back to farming and his wine making led to unwanted consequences. He cursed his grandson Canaan for his exposure and Levitical historian turned it into a cause why the Canaanites had to be exterminated. In spite of the curse, the Canaanite, son of Ham or the Hamites became the ruling class and builders of settlements and cities. The Shemites or Semites became the nomadic herders looking for land to graze and this is the branch of Abraham that under Joshua conquered Canaan (Genesis 10).
The first emperor or world leader was Nimrod, nephew of Canaan. In spite of Nimrod not being a Semite, the Semite writer called him “a mighty hunter before the Lord, a model for others to follow. He was credited with building Babylon, Nineveh and seven other capitals in the world (Genesis 10:8-12). Nimrod’s cousins, the Canaanite offspring were the explorers and opened their borders and ended up being the enemies of the Semites (Genesis 10:15-20). The curse of Noah had a positive effect on his offspring. It alienated the brothers and they and their seed scattered. The Nimrods or leaders began to fear that the splintering would end in endless strive among them. They decide to build a tower that would reach heaven and bring all the children of Noah together. The project was destined to fail from the start, not just over the difference on languages but primarily in the problem of sanitation and food. All the farmers had gone to build a tower and they had to go back home when their supplies ran out. Jesus had something to say about undertaking a project that cannot be completed because of insufficient supplies (Luke 14:28-33). Revelation 18 predicts a similar fate for our big projects, cities and kingdoms. The biblical predictions are based on cause and effect, we harvest what we plant and then only when we care and nourish what we seed and plant. The Bible teaches that the farmer is the bread maker of the world, and it is when he loves the land as he loves himself, that he does not run out of bread. Love without bread cannot sustain the strongest people or person. I know because I have been there. When our land was take from us we almost starved until we found more land for raising our bread.