As an article of diet, milk holds a more important position in eastern countries than with us. It is not a mere adjunct in cookery, or restricted to the use of the young, although it is naturally the characteristic food of childhood, both from its simple and nutritive qualities. ( 1 Peter 2:2 ) and particularly as contrasted with meat, ( 1 Corinthians 3:2 ; Hebrews 5:12 ) but beyond this it is regarded as substantial food adapted alike to all ages and classes. Not only the milk of cows, but of sheep, ( 32:14 ) of camels, ( Genesis 32:15 ) and of goats, ( Proverbs 27:27 ) was used; that latter appears to have been most highly prized.
milk (chalabh; gala; Latin lac (2 Esdras 2:19; 8:10)):
The fluid secreted by the mammary glands of female mammals for the nourishment of their young. The word is used in the Bible of that of human beings (Isaiah 28:9) as well as of that of the lower animals (Exodus 23:19). As a food it ranked next in importance to bread (Ecclesiasticus 39:26). Palestine is frequently described as a land "flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8,17; Numbers 13:27; Deuteronomy 6:3; Joshua 5:6; Jeremiah 11:5; Ezekiel 20:6,15). Milk was among the first things set before the weary traveler (Genesis 18:8). In fact, it was considered a luxury (Judges 5:25; Song of Solomon 5:1). The people used the milk of kine and also that of sheep (Deuteronomy 32:14), and especially that of goats (Proverbs 27:27). It was received in pails ('atinim, Job 21:24), and kept in leather bottles (no'dh, Judges 4:19), where it turned sour quickly in the warm climate of Palestine before being poured out thickly like a melting substance (nathakh; compare Job 10:10). Cheese of various kinds was made from it (gebhinah and charitse he-chalabh, literally, "cuts of milk"); or the curds (chem'ah) were eaten with bread, and possibly also made into butter by churning (Proverbs 30:33). See FOOD, II. It is possible that milk was used for seething other substances; at least the Israelites were strictly forbidden to seethe a kid in its mother's milk (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21), and by a very general interpretation of these passages Jews have come to abstain from the use of mixtures of meat and milk of all kinds.
Figuratively the word is used
(1) of abundance (Genesis 49:12);
(2) of a loved one's charms (Song of Solomon 4:11);
(5) of purity (1 Peter 2:2).
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