Festivals 2004Festivals 2004Festivals 2004

  • Issue: August 2004
  • Designer: Hayyimi Kivkovich
  • Stamp Size: 40 mm x 30.8 mm
  • Plate no.: 574 (1 phosphor bar), 575 (2 phosphor bars), 576 (2 phosphor bars)
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: offset

Bread - the most important staple in a human's diet - is made from flour that has been milled from wheat or barley. It is not a coincidence that wheat and barley are at the top of the list of the seven species that characterize Eretz Israel (Deuteronomy 8:8). The word for bread was used in Hebrew, Arabic and in other languages as a general word for food.

Wild wheat and barley grew in Eretz Israel and ancient man, twenty thousand years ago, already included them in his diet. During the agricultural revolution, approximately 9000 years ago, man began to grow wheat and barley, mill the grains, knead dough and bake bread. The grains were also eaten when they were green and soft or after being roasted on the fire. Cultivation of the different grains is dependent on rain since it is not possible to irrigate such large areas of land.

It is said in the Bible: "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread" (Genesis 3:19). Man worked hard fora slice of bread. At the beginning of the winter the fields were ploughed and seeds sown. In the spring the crop was reaped and gathered to the threshing floor, where the hard work was done. The grains were threshed with a stick or threshing board, in order to separate the grains from the straw and grain  the straw. The mixture was thrown in the air by a wooden fork so that the straw and chaff would be flown away by the wind and the seeds would fall down; the grains were then sieved to get rid of the chaff and stones. The amount of crop was measured and stored in bins. The grains were grounded with millstones and the flour was kneaded into dough -it was only then that bread was baked. In Biblical times bread was more like the thin flat pica bread we know today.

Today, the farmers' work is a lot easier. They use tractors and combine harvesters to plough the fields, reap the crop and separate the grain from the straw. The crop is stored in huge silos, the milling is done in mechanical flour mills and the baking by modernized bakeries.

Wheat is preferable to barley, in so far as nutritional value and ease of milling, but wheat requires better soil and climate conditions. Wheat was therefore grown in the central and northern valleys and hills of the country where there was enough rain. Barley was grown mainly in semi-arid areas like the northern Negev and eastern Samaria.

Most of today's grains are imported because the yield of local crops is too small. The variety of types of breads produced today is enormous, including whole wheat bread, rye bread, and low calorie bread. This is due to the refinement of tastes of the customers and quality of Israeli cuisine.

Dr. Etan Ayalon
Eretz Israel Museum,
Tel Aviv

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Festivals 2004 - Bread In Israel