Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ezekiel 4:9 is not about health food

Jewish date:  23 ’Av 5771 (Parashath Re’eh).

Today’s holidays:  Feast Day of Rose of Lima (Roman Catholicism), Nuclear Accident Day (Church of the SubGenius).


A while ago, Barry sent me some pictures of some unusual bread and asked me to post on it.  Unfortunately, Blogger is not being cooperative about loading pictures, so instead I am going to direct you towards the Web-site for the bread:  Ezekiel 4:9® | Food For Life.  Thus is it written in Ezekiel 4:9 (my translation):
And you, take for yourself wheat and barley and beans and lentils and millet and spelt, and you will put them in one vessel, and you will make them for yourself into bread; [for] the number of days that you are lying on your side, 390 days, you will eat it.
The people making bread based on this seem to be taking it as a recipe for health food, claiming “This Biblical Bread is Truly the Staff of Life”.

Now, as an epidemiologist and thus someone who has been exposed to a good deal of health-related information, I am all for variety in one’s diet.  However, healthy eating is not what this verse is about.  Let us consider the context of this verse.  Yeḥezqe’l (Ezekiel) was living at the end of the First Temple Period.  When he prophesied, he was on the shore of the Kevar in Babylonia, as he had already been exiled.  Yeḥezqe’l’s prophecies deal with the transgressions (severe enough to cause major social problems) that ultimately led to the destruction of the First Temple, the 70 years of exile, and the eventual  return of the Jewish people and rebuilding of the Temple.  In publicizing these prophecies, YHWH instructed Yeḥezqe’el to act in some truly bizarre ways, thus getting people’s attention.  Ezekiel 4:9 is part of a set of instructions that Yeḥezqe’l is to lay siege on a brick and spend over a year lying on his side.  The recipe is representative of what people eat in times of siege; not being able to freely import food, they eat whatever they have available, even if it turns out to be unusual mixture.  Please note that Yeḥezqe’l is supposed to ration his food and water during this time (Ezekiel 4:10-11), and what he is supposed to use as fuel for cooking his food is something that no one with any sense (of hygiene, at least) would use unless they had no other choice (Ezekiel 4:12, 4:16).  (I presume the Food and Drug Administration does not permit that level of authenticity.)  Taking the recipe as being meant as health food is nothing less than a gross violation of context.

Even more far-fetched is their Genesis 1:29® sprouted grain and seed bread.  Thus is it written in Genesis 1:29 (my translation):
’Elohim said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing see that is on the face of all the Earth and every tree that on it is the fruit of the tree bearing seed; for you it will be for food.”
This verse is talking about plants in general as food, but somehow the Food for Life people have taken it as inspiring bread made with 19 different plant-based items from around the planet.  Note that at no point does this verse talk about any form of cooking or even of mixing different ingredients.  I have no idea what these people are thinking.

Theological rating for these products:  F.