Ancient mosaic depicting foods.
Ancient Roman mosaic depicting foods

Foods of the Bible

Pre-Flood world

Originally, the Creator granted the use of the vegetable world for food to man (Genesis 1:29), with the exception mentioned (2:17).

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. —Genesis 1:29 NKJV

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” —Genesis 2:16-17 NKJV

Food in the post-Flood world


The use of animal food was probably not unknown to the antediluvians. There is, however, a distinct law on the subject given to Noah after the Deluge (Genesis 9:2-5).

God told Noah,

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. —Genesis 9:2-5 NKJV

Various articles of food used in the patriarchal age are mentioned in Genesis 18:6-8; 25:34; 27:3-4; 43:11.

Regarding the food of the Israelites in Egypt, see Exodus 16:3; Numbers 11:5. In the wilderness, their ordinary food was miraculously supplied in the manna. They had also quails (Exodus 16:11-13; Numbers 11:31).

Regulations of Israelites

In the law of Moses for the Israelites, there are special regulations as to the animals to be used for food (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14:3-21).

They were also forbidden to use as food anything that had been consecrated to idols (Exodus 34:15), or animals that had died of disease or had been torn by wild beasts (Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 22:8). (See also for other restrictions Exodus 23:19; 29:13-22; Leviticus 3:4-9; 9:18-19; 22:8; Deuteronomy 14:21.) But beyond these restrictions, they had a large grant from God (Deuteronomy 14:26; 32:13-14).


Fruits, nuts and similar

Vegetables, herbs, legumes and spices


Creature-based foods



Meats and fish


Divinely provided food on special occassion


Food preperation and consumption or offering

Food was prepared for use in various ways. The cereals were sometimes eaten without any preparation (Leviticus 23:14; Deuteronomy 23:25; 2 Kings 4:42).

Vegetables were cooked by boiling (Genesis 25:30; 25:34; 2 Kings 4:38-39), and thus also other articles of food were prepared for use (Genesis 27:4; Proverbs 23:3; Ezek. 24:10; Luke 24:42; John 21:9).

Food was also prepared by roasting (Exodus 12:8; Leviticus 2:14).


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Article Version: April 28, 2024