Food and Meals

During the time of Jesus’s life on Earth which is documented in the four gospels the customs of eating where very different than they are today. The typical diets of the rich versus the poor varied greatly in both quantity and types of food. Wealthy romans ate on average four meals a day consisting of “fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish” while poor people ate mostly “bread and vegetables” (Strauss 152). Jews typically only ate two meals a day “one at noon and another in the evening” (Strauss 153). They would typically live on bread, vegetables, fish and dairy products with meat usually reserved to be only eaten during festivals. In second Samuel some types of food common during this time period such as “Honey curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat…”are talked about (NIV Bible, 2 Samuel 17:29). Water at the time was often considered unsafe to consume and would be typically “mixed with wine usually three or four parts water to wine” (Strauss 153).  

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Common meals were often eaten while sitting on mats. More formal meals were eaten with participants around a low table. It was an important custom for participants to “lean on their left arms and use their right hands to eat” (Strauss 153). Social status played a big role in these meals. Both your place at the table and even the qualities of food served were based on the participants social status in the community. In Luke 14 Jesus gives a parable that talks about the different seats at the banquet table. He tells his followers “But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests” (NIV Bible, Luke 14:10).

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