Baking Bread and Ovens
Baking of bread. The most primitive method of baking bread was the laying of cakes of dough on heated stones.11
A Scriptural example of this is from the experience of Elijah. (I Kings 19:6): "And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head."
Another simple method of baking is the digging in the ground of a hole four or five feet deep, and three feet in diameter, and after this oven is heated, the dough is rolled out until it is no thicker than a person's finger, and then it is struck against the oven's sides where it instantly bakes.
Sometimes a great stone pitcher is used as an oven. In the bottom of it a fire is made among small flints that retain the heat. The dough is placed on these and is quickly baked. Sometimes the dough is rolled out quite thin and is stuck on the outside of the hot pitcher where it bakes. Some have thought that it was this pitcher-oven that was meant in Leviticus 2:4, where two types of unleavened bread were to be baked. The cakes of fine flour would be baked inside the pitcher-oven, and the wafers would be baked on the outside of it.
Another type of simple oven is a large earthenware jar, into which the fuel is placed, and when the jar is hot enough the thin cakes are laid on the outside to cook.14 When bread was baked individually by each family in Bible days, some such method as has been described was probably used by the ordinary homes.
But often today, as in the days of Sacred Writ, bread was and is baked in either a semipublic oven, or in the oven of a public baker. Sometimes each town might have several of these ovens. One type of such an oven consists of a big earthen tube, some three feet in diameter, and about five feet long. It is sunk in the ground inside a hut. The women take their turn in baking their bread. The fuel is thrown into the tube, and when the fire gets hot, and billows of smoke and tongues of flame come from the deep hole, the hut, without any chimney in it, begins to resemble an active crater. Malachi must have seen such an oven when he wrote the words, "For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble" (Malachi 4:1).15
Another type of Oriental oven "is a long, low, stonebuilt vault, like half a railway-engine's boiler,
with a stone pavement down the middle, and a long narrow strip at each side for the firewood."16 Each night the ashes are taken out, and often the children of poor families will bring a piece of tin, or of a broken water jar, and carry home on this some of the embers of the fire with which to start the fire at home for the evening meal.
Hosea makes mention of "an oven heated by the baker" (Hosea 7:4). This would indicate that some of the people brought their bread to a baker to do the baking. The city of Jerusalem had its Baker's Street in the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:21).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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