What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat?
by Nathan Macdonald
Paperback: 156 pages
Released: November 1, 2008
Source: Bought from Christianbook.com.
Book Description from Amazon:
What food did the ancient Israelites really eat and how much of it did they consume? This seemingly simple question yields an incredibly complex answer. Nathan MacDonald sifts through five main types of evidence relevant to this diet examination: the biblical text, archaeological data, comparative evidence from the ancient world, comparative evidence from modern anthropological research, and modern scientific knowledge of geography and nutrition.
MacDonald opens by examining biblical descriptions of the land of Israel and the Israelite diet, considering the context of ancient rhetoric and theology. In section two he delves into archaeological finds from Iron Age Israel. The difficult problem of exploring the adequacy of the ancient Israelite diet is tackled in section three where MacDonald points out the impossibility of definitive conclusions on this question. The final section is an evaluation of the variety and healthiness of the diet. He also reflects here on claims made by popular contemporary biblical diets and analyzes a number of books calling for a return to biblical eating.
What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? is a Bible backgrounds book focused on what an average person in Israel ate during the Iron Age. The book is written in an scholarly style. If you want a fast read that shows the foods mentioned in the Bible and how they were used, you'll probably find "Food at the Time of the Bible" by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh a more useful book. However, if you want an idea of how healthy the average person's diet was at that time, this book will help.
The author places the Israelite occupation of the land (from Judges until the Babylonian Exile) during the Iron Age, so he focused on the archaeological evidence from the Iron Age. However, I agree with the group that thinks the evidence shows that the Israelites entered the land much earlier. I still found the information interesting, and he sometimes gave information about Bronze Age findings.
He also believes that the Old Testament is not a reliable historical record due to later politically- or theologically-motivated editing. I also don't agree with this, but it didn't seem to significantly affect his conclusions about what the Israelites ate based on the Biblical record.
As stated in the book description, he examined the following areas: the biblical text, archaeological data, comparative evidence from the ancient world, comparative evidence from modern anthropological research, and modern scientific knowledge of geography and nutrition. The information in this book is useful if you want to know as accurately as possible what the average person in Israel ate during the Iron Ages and how healthful it was.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
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