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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







From The Scribe, No. 14 – 1984

Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who bringeth forth bread from the earth.

The Staff of Life

by Naim Dangoor

Although the Bible starts with the beautiful and moving story of the creation of the universe and the creation of time, Genesis is essentially the story of civilisation which, by definition, started when man settled down to develop agriculture not so long ago. The historic Adam, therefore, was the discoverer of wild wheat which started agriculture and as such Adam is the father of civilisation. Agriculture was a great turning point in the evolution of the human race which until then subsisted on hunting and gathering. In keeping with ancient tradition Adam is honoured by naming him as the First Man, the progenitor of the human race. Bread itself is accorded a unique place of honour at our tables, having a special blessing, and by treating it as sacred. The full grace after meals is recited only when bread has been eaten with the meal.

The aphrodisiac quality of wild wheat prompted the story of the Fall which is often associated with the dawn of sexual awareness. In fact one of the opinions in the Talmud states that the forbidden food that Adam ate in the Garden of Eden was wheat.

The story of Cain and Abel shows the subsequent struggle between the two factions – the old hunter and the revolutionary farmer. Indeed the story of the Garden of Eden was the usual yearning after "the good old days" whenever people embark on a new venture or a new way of life.

At the end of the Ice Age as the glaciers continued to retreat, the fauna that had been an important food supply for the hunters of the Old World became extinct. Mankind became more numerous and more active and craved for a new source of food. Adam’s cereal was the answer and in search of suitably watered fields man had to move north where at the earliest known village of Jarmo in the Kurdish foothills and Jericho in Israel, the first farming communities were established many thousands of years ago. Today, two-thirds of the food calories consumed by the human race is provided by cereals.

Bible commentators are puzzled why the generation of Adam was allowed only fruit and cereals but that after the Flood, meat was allowed. In the early days of agriculture all animals were still wild and meat was hard to come by. The place of Noah in the march of civilisation is that he domesticated animals. This is graphically illustrated by the story of the Ark and the zoo that went into it. Noah is likewise honoured by naming him and his family as the sole survivors of the Flood.


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