Yehezqel Lechem/Ezekiel Bread

 

By

 

Yochanan Zaqantov

 

Many references online to this supposed healthy biblical bread.  Even one company quotes Ezekiel on the bread and calls it sprouted grain bread.  There are hundreds of variations of this bread all touting its health benefits.  From all one can search on the internet you would think this was the secret of healthy bread right from Tanakh or Bible as they say.  So what is the real story behind this bread described in Yehezqel/Ezekiel?  Does the story support a health bread concept?  Or, is it a bread of a curse?  Was it sign for Yerusalayim/Jerusalem?

 

So let us read the story first to get the context of it.

 

Ezekiel 4:1-17

 

4:1     “And you, O mortal, take a brick and put it in front of you, and incise on it a city, Jerusalem. 2     Set up a siege against it, and build towers against it, and cast a mound against it; pitch camps against it, and bring up battering rams roundabout it. 3     Then take an iron plate and place it as an iron wall between yourself and the city, and set your face against it. Thus it shall be under siege, you shall besiege it. This shall be an omen for the House of Israel.

4     “Then lie on your left side, and let it bear the punishment of the House of Israel; for as many days as you lie on it you shall bear their punishment. 5     For I impose upon you three hundred and ninety days, corresponding to the number of the years of their punishment; and so you shall bear the punishment for the House of Israel. 6     When you have completed these, you shall lie another forty days on your right side, and bear the punishment of the House of Judah. I impose on you one day for each year.

7     “Then, with bared arm, set your face toward besieged Jerusalem and prophesy against it. 8     Now I put cords upon you, so that you cannot turn from side to side until you complete your days of siege.

9     “Further, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and emmer. Put them into one vessel and bake them into bread. Eat it as many days as you lie on your side: three hundred and ninety. 10     The food that you eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day; this you shall eat in the space of a day. 11     And you shall drink water by measure; drink a sixth of a hin in the space of a day.

12     “Eat it as a barley cake; you shall bake it on human excrement before their eyes. 13     So,” said Yehovah, “shall the people of Israel eat their bread, unclean (tame), among the nations to which I will banish them.” 14     Then I said, “Ah, Adoni Yehovah, my person was never defiled (metuma’ah); nor have I eaten anything that died of itself (carcus)or was torn by beasts from my youth until now, nor has foul (stinking/refuse pigul 6292) flesh entered my mouth.” 15     He answered me, “See, I allow you cow’s dung instead of human excrement; prepare your bread on that.”

16     And He said to me, “O mortal, I am going to break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and they shall eat bread by weight, in anxiety, and drink water by measure, in horror, 17     so that, lacking bread and water, they shall stare at each other, heartsick over their iniquity.

 

Just reading this in context really helps us to see that this was not a bread of Health but a bread to represent that they would eat unclean among the nations.  This was cursed bread.  Symbolizing to them that they would no longer be set apart from the nations but common with those nations around them.  It was baked over dung.  So why was this important?

 

All about the Dung.

 

The word here for Dung is gelel and is reference number 1561.  It is spelled Gimmel-Lamed-Lamed in ivrit/Hebrew.   It is used twice in Yehezqel and two other places in the Tanakh.

 

12     “Eat it as a barley cake; you shall bake it on human excrement (bagel’ley tze’at ha’adam בְּגֶלְלֵי צֵאַת הָאָדָם) before their eyes. 13     So,” said Yehovah, “shall the people of Israel eat their bread, unclean (tame), among the nations to which I will banish them.” 14     Then I said, “Ah, Adoni Yehovah, my person was never defiled (metuma’ah); nor have I eaten anything that died of itself (carcus) or was torn by beasts from my youth until now, nor has foul (stinking/refuse pigul 6292) flesh entered my mouth.” 15     He answered me, “See, I allow you cow’s dung instead of human excrement (et tzefiy’ey habaqar tachat gel’ley haadam – the layings of the cow instead of dung of the man אֶת־צְפִיעֵי הַבָּקָר תַּחַת גֶּלְלֵי הָאָדָם); prepare your bread on that.”

 

Here we see that there is a difference in human dung and cow dung.  Cow dung is not unclean where as human dung is.  Thus, the preparation of this bread was to make it unclean to consume.  So why would dung make it unclean? 

 

It appears it is based upon the animal.  For instance, here is the human dung.

 

Devarim/Deuteronomy 23:14-15

 

14     With your gear you shall have a spike, and when you have squatted you shall dig a hole with it and cover up your excrement (tze’atekha צֵאָתֶךָ). 15     Since Yehovah Eloheykha moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you, let your camp be holy; let Him not find anything unseemly among you and turn away from you. 

 

Whereas, here is the cow/bull dung.

 

Leviticus 4:11-12

11     But the hide of the bull, and all its flesh, as well as its head and legs, its entrails and its dung (ufir’sho 6569 וּפִרְשׁוֹ)—12     all the rest of the bull—he shall carry to a clean place outside the camp, to the ash heap, and burn it up in a wood fire; it shall be burned on the ash heap.

 

Here we see that take to the clean place the left over parts of the cow where considered clean and burnt up into ashes of the Chattat (sin offering). 

 

But why would the dung affect the Bread?

 

Vayiqra/Leviticus 11:34-38

 

34     As to any food that may be eaten, it shall become unclean if it came in contact with water; as to any liquid that may be drunk, it shall become unclean if it was inside any vessel. 35     Everything on which the carcass of any of them falls shall be unclean: an oven or stove shall be smashed. They are unclean and unclean they shall remain for you. 36     However, a spring or cistern in which water is collected shall be clean, but whoever touches such a carcass in it shall be unclean. 37     If such a carcass falls upon seed grain that is to be sown, it is clean; 38     but if water is put on the seed and any part of a carcass falls upon it, it shall be unclean for you.

 

First we know that anything coming in contact with something unclean will itself become unclean.  The exception is a sealed vessel or a whole seed.  Thus, the ground up seed is succeptable because it is no longer sealed.  Like a seed that water is placed upon the seed will open up to grow.  The broken seed/ flour can become unclean.  Thus, cow dung will not make it unclean but human dung would.

 

So what were the seeds used here.

 

Wheat/chittah 2806

Barley/se’orah 8184

Beans/pol 6321

Lentile/’adashim 5742

Millet/dochan 1764

Spelt or Emmer/kossemet 3698

 

Normallty one type of flour was used to make bread but a mixing of flours used here.  It never explains why this was done.  Just that it is interesting that nowhere I see so many flours were mixed together to make a bread.  This would make this unusual.  You will notice that nowhere is sprouted grain is even mentioned. If is where then also Vayiqra 11 would also apply in the seed that water is put on.

 

What was it to symbolize?

 

We talked about earlier that it was the Tame/Unclean/Unfit bread that was to represent they eating it Tame among the nations.

Yehezqel/Ezekiel 4:13

 

13     So,” said Yehovah, “shall the people of Israel eat their bread, unclean (tame), among the nations to which I will banish them.”

 

So the bread was tame and represented what they would eat among the nations.  Next how else was it to symbolize what else they would do?

 

Yehezqel/Ezekiel 4:10-11

 

10     The food that you eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day; this you shall eat in the space of a day. 11     And you shall drink water by measure; drink a sixth of a hin in the space of a day.

 

Yehezqel was to eat the bread in measure or ration is bread and water each day.  This was also for a sign to them. Food and water will not be abundant when you are a captive.  Also this was done for their iniquity.

 

Yehezqel/Ezekiel 4: 16-17

 

16     And He said to me, “O mortal, I am going to break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and they shall eat bread by weight, in anxiety, and drink water by measure, in horror, 17     so that, lacking bread and water, they shall stare at each other, heartsick over their iniquity.

 

We see what they had when obedient was abundance.  The lack of food and water was a curse.

 

Devarim/Deuteronomy 28:45-50

 

45     All these curses shall befall you; they shall pursue you and overtake you, until you are wiped out, because you did not heed Yehovah Eloheykha and keep the commandments and laws that He enjoined upon you. 46     They shall serve as signs and proofs against you and your offspring for all time. 47     Because you would not serve Yehovah Eloheykha in joy and gladness over the abundance of everything, 48     you shall have to serve—in hunger and thirst, naked and lacking everything—the enemies whom Yehovah will let loose against you. He will put an iron yoke upon your neck until He has wiped you out.

49     Yehovah will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, which will swoop down like the eagle—a nation whose language you do not understand, 50     a ruthless nation, that will show the old no regard and the young no mercy.

 

Here we see that what they were to experience was a curse prescribed by Yehovah in Torah and showing that in obedience there is abundance and in disobedience there is lacking or not enough to satisfy.

 

So this was not a bread of satisfaction either but a measured bread of disobedience. 

 

How should we view this bread today?

 

While noting is mentioned in eating multi-grain breads, we should not be linking health bread to Yehezqel’s bread as it was for a sign and purpose we don’t desire today.  There are healthy foods today and there is nothing wrong in the eating of them.  I would stay away from the breads that advertise they are Ezekiel bread because of what we know about the true bread usedin Yehezqel.

 

Instead we should focus on today being obedient so that we may be blessed and be able to return to our land.

 

Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:1-10

 

1     When all these things befall you—the blessing and the curse that I have set before you—and you take them to heart amidst the various nations to which Yehovah Eloheykha has banished you, 2     and you return to Yehovah Eloheykha, and you and your children heed His command with all your heart and soul, just as I enjoin upon you this day, 3     then Yehovah Eloheykha will restore your fortunes and take you back in love. He will bring you together again from all the peoples where Yehovah Eloheykha has scattered you. 4     Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there Yehovah Eloheykha will gather you, from there He will fetch you. 5     And Yehovah Eloheykha will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers.

6     Then Yehovah Eloheykha will open up your heart and the hearts of your offspring to love Yehovah Eloheykha with all your heart and soul, in order that you may live. 7     Yehovah Eloheykha will inflict all those curses upon the enemies and foes who persecuted you. 8     You, however, will again heed Yehovah and obey all His commandments that I enjoin upon you this day. 9     And Yehovah Eloheykha will grant you abounding prosperity in all your undertakings, in the issue of your womb, the offspring of your cattle, and the produce of your soil. For Yehovah will again delight in your well-being, as He did in that of your fathers, 10     since you will be heeding Yehovah Eloheykha and keeping His commandments and laws that are recorded in this book of the Teaching—once you return to Yehovah Eloheykha with all your heart and soul.

 

Lets get back to being obedient.