Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What kind of bread is Showbread?

So what is the Showbread? What kind of bread is Showbread?

Let's take a look:
CLV Lv 24:5 You will take flour and bake of it twelve perforated cakes. Two tenths of an ephah shall there be for one perforated cake. 
CLV Lv 24:6 And you will place them in two arrays, six to the array, on the pure table before Yahweh. 
CLV Lv 24:7 You will put along each array clear frankincense, and it will be used instead of the bread as a memorial portion, a fire offering to Yahweh. 
CLV Lv 24:8 Sabbath day by sabbath day shall he arrange it before Yahweh regularly on behalf of the sons of Israel, an eonian covenant. 
CLV Lv 24:9 It will be for Aaron and for his sons, and they will eat it in a holy place, for it is a holy of holies for him from the fire offerings of Yahweh. It is an eonian statute.
Please also see additional verses: Exodus 29:2, 29:23, Lev 2:4, 7:12-13, 8:26, Numb 6:15, 6:19, 15:20.

So as you can see from all these verses, the Showbread is called Halah, which literally means sick or afflicted. Perhaps, this is because it is good to eat this bread when you are sick or afflicted. I also think that maybe Halah gets its name from its color (yellow) due to the addition of the eggs. Yellow is traditionally associated with sick or afflicted.

Secondly, Showbread was made with 2 Omers of flour (2/10 of Ephah) and included at least the oil and the eggs. Honey was probably added too. And it was baked in the oven.

Halah is a form of bread and it was essentially a flat cake, which means that it had a thickness of less than half of a traditional loaf. Here is the absolutely beautiful picture:

As you can see, this bread is soft and thin enough to be eaten with the forks which were commanded as the part of the Table of Showbread utensils.

The most interesting question is if the Showbread supposed to be leavened or unleavened because if you look at Leviticus 24:5 there is no indication which type of bread the Showbread supposed to be. In fact, from the cited verses we know that Halah can be leavened and unleavened. So which type was used for Showbread?

The answer is actually very simple.

First of all, we know for a fact that the bread was on the table for a whole week and was replaced with the new one each Shabbat. This means that the bread had to be unleavened because a leavened bread would not last a week on the table. It would get dry and would be inedible.

Secondly, the leavened bread would require some kind of covering to preserve it for a week. But we are never commanded such a thing and even if we assume that the bread was covered with individual lids, there is simply not enough space on the table to accommodate such arrangement.

Last but not least, we know for a fact that we are prohibited to eat leavened bread during Passover/Feast of the Unleavened and the Priests are no exception. Torah never says they were exempt. So this can only mean that the bread had to be unleavened.

So as you can clearly see that the Showbread is called by the Torah Unleavened Halah. The fact that Torah does not say "unleavened" is clearly because this word fell out of the description. I checked Kennicott and there were no manuscripts which show the type of bread either way, which means that this edit occurred in the 1st Temple period most likely.

We can't assume that they have interchanged the bread because Torah never says that and because of the issue of the preservation of the leavened bread for a week.

Leviticus 24:9 says that this bread is "from fire offerings", which also implies that the bread was unleavened because most offerings require unleavened Halah. Especially fire offerings.

Please note that we are very clearly commanded to put frankincense ON THE ROWS and NOT ON THE BREAD! Neither we are commanded any specific shape features for the bread. This means that there were no depressions in the bread to put frankincense in as tradition usually shows. And this means that frankincense was simply sprinkled all over the rows and as is. I think it was only on the Table and the dishes. Priests had to eat this bread to I do not think putting frankincence on the bread directly is a good idea. How would you eat it?

I hope now it is clear what Showbread is.

P.S. Here is an updated rendering of my Table of Showbread model:

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