We continue today with the the basic human food of all times − le•chem, bread. Besides meaning ‘bread’ in the form that we know today, biblical Hebrew, at times it uses the word ‘le•chem’ as a general name for food. For example:
And the priest shall burn it upon the altar; it is the food of the offering made by fire to the Lord
Although the wheat grain during the biblical era is believed to be different than the grain we use today (today’s grain was mutated twice and genetically engineered), some scholars claim that bread was also a reference to a food that was made from a grain named ‘do•chan’ (millet). The wheat, however, was one of the Seven Species we discussed two weeks ago:
A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil, and honey
‘Le•chem’ is mentioned many times in the Bible (242) and sometimes in the form of special words, such as ‘le•chem ha•pa•nim’ (the bread of display) in Exodus 35:13, and names such as ‘Bethlehem’ in I Samuel 20:6 and Matthew 2:8. In Hebrew, this name is composed of two words: Beit Le•chem (House of Bread).
It is important to mention the interesting connection between the vital source of livelihood, ‘le•chem’ (bread), and the root word: ‘la•chem’ (to fight). Fighting is usually an act taken to ensure one’s livelihood. Perhaps this equation indicates the inherent connection between these two extreme means of livelihood.
The word, Le•chem, is recited daily by Jews as part of the well-known food blessing: ‘Ba•ruch A•ta Adonai, Elo•hey•nu Me•lech Ha•olam, ha•mo•tzi le•chem min ha•a•retz (Blessed be You O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who has brought forth bread out of the earth).