In oriental as in classical lands it was customary, in ancient times, as now, to have but two meals in the day, and the evidence, including that of Josephus, goes to show that the second or evening meal was the principal one. The "morning morsel," as the is Talmud calls it, was in no sense a "meal." The peasant or artisan, before beginning work, might "break (his) fast" (John 21:12,15) by taking a bit of barley bread with some simple relish, but to "eat (a full meal) in the morning" was a reproach (Ecclesiastes 10:16). The full meal was not to be taken until a little before or after sunset, when the laborers had come in from their work (Luke 17:7; compare the "supper time" of Luke 14:17). The noon meal, taken at an hour when climatic conditions called for rest from exertion (the ariston of the Greeks, rendered "dinner" in English Versions of the Bible, Matthew 22:4; Luke 11:38, the Revised Version, margin "breakfast"), was generally very simple, of bread soaked in light wine with a handful of parched corn (Ruth 2:14), or of "pottage and bread broken into a bowl" (Bel and the Dragon 33), or of bread and broiled fish (John 21:13). Many, when on journey especially, content with one meal a day, taken after sunset. In general, eating at other times casual and informal; evening is the time for the formal meal, or feast. See MEALS.
George B. Eager
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