THE USE OF RAW GRAIN AND PARCHED GRAIN
The eating of raw grain in a modern custom of Palestine that dates back to very ancient days. The Arabs today often pluck the ears of grain and rubbing them in their hands, eat them (Fred H. Wight, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands, p. 43 – Year 1953). The Mosaic Law said: “Ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God” (Lev. 23:14; cf. Deut. 23:25; II Kings 4:42). The disciples of Yahshua (Jesus) ate raw grain in the fields. “His disciples plucked the ears of corn and did eat, rubbing them in their hands” Luke 6:1; cf. Matt. 12:1, Mark 2:23). So it can be readily seen that this custom of eating raw grain has prevailed for thousands of years.2
Another food common in the Orient today and in use in Bible times is parched grain. This is prepared from the grains of wheat that are not fully ripe. They are roasted in a pan or on an iron plate. Such grain is eaten either with or without bread. Jesse sent some of it to his sons in the army by the hand of David (I Samuel 17:17). Abigail included some of it in her present to David (I Samuel 25:18). And David received some of it from friends at the time he had fled from Absalom (II Samuel 17:28). These Scriptures show that parched grain has been in use for centuries.3
EASTERN HABITS, connected with the eating of a meal, are such a decided contrast to Western habits, that much care should be given to the study of them, if the many references in the Bible to eating, are to be interpreted accurately.
ORIENTAL ATTITUDES ON ENTERTAINING A GUEST EATING ALONE DISLIKED: IT IS A PART of Oriental etiquette to want to share hospitality with others. After a meal has been prepared, an Arab has been heard to call out three times from a high spot in the neighborhood, inviting men to come and partake of the meal. These men of the desert do not like to eat their meal alone (James M. Freeman, Handbook of Bible Manners and Customs, p. 214). The patriarch Job felt that way about it in his day: “Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof” (Job 31:17).
SINCE THE DAILY MENU of the ordinary Oriental meal is and always has been very simple, something needs to be said about those special occasions when a more elaborate and expensive meal is served. The Scriptures abound in accounts of these formal occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, or other times when special guests are invited and a sumptuous meal is served.