"Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread" Requires Markets

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Posted: Mar 06, 2020 9:47 AM
"Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread" Requires Markets

Source: AP Photo/Lorin Eleni Gill

A technique I have for reading Bible verses is to read each verse to emphasize every different word. Here is one such verse.

Matt 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. 

So this verse would read something like this, for example:

GIVE us this day our daily bread.

Give us this DAY our daily bread.

Give us this day our DAILY bread.

Give us this day our daily BREAD.

Emphasizing each word as you read it over and over again gives more insights to the verse. However, when I emphasized the word “bread,” I had to stop. It’s not the nutritional value of bread itself, or dipping warm bread into marinara, BBQ, or olive oil with parmesan cheese -- although that could be a whole other column. My thoughts focused on what it takes to make a loaf of bread. Being a process and sequence guy, let’s start at the beginning.

Gen 2:8 The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.

God “planted a garden” from what He created for the earth. He first had to create the food infrastructure, the plants themselves; then He created a planned garden.

Gen 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

God planted the garden and gave Adam the job to cultivate and keep it. Then the fall of Man (Adam and Eve) and sin and punishment with the banishment from the garden happened, but interestingly, God spoke the first occurrence of the word “bread”?

Gen 3:19 By the sweat of your face, You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

Adam and Eve could pluck and eat anything from the Garden, but were ejected and started a new process to work and earn their daily bread. You plant wheat (or barley, rye, spelt, or oat) and harvest it. Once harvested, you separate the wheat, the good part, from the chaff. Then you mill the grain into flour and combine it with water, yeast, salt, sugar, and other ingredients to create your bread dough. You can bake in a simple clay oven of a tannuwr (Strong’s H8574) or fry the dough to make all sorts of recipes adding other ingredients to create different breads or dishes.

During the time of Jesus, various business owners were communities of specialists. Farmers planted and harvested the wheat; someone threshes the grain to separate the wheat from the chaff. The Bible speaks about threshing as an essential task, and it has relevant connotations.

1 Tim 5:17-18 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

Threshing is beating the grain using a flail on a threshing floor or donkey, or oxen walk in circles on the grain on a hard surface. Hand threshing was laborious, with a bushel of wheat taking about an hour.[1] Interesting to note, the clergy are to receive double honor for the preaching/teaching work they do. A pastor’s responsibility is to “thresh” for God’s truth from the “noise” and lies” concerning God’s economy, blessings, and prosperity between the community and the marketplace. If the clergy fail to thresh out God’s truth, OR we “muzzle the ox” and fail to “feed” the clergy, pay them for their efforts, we both will suffer. 

The Bible discusses milling done in gristmills (Deut 24:6, “The Torah forbids a creditor to take as collateral anything that the debtor needs for his livelihood, for to deprive a person of his means of making a living is tantamount to taking his life”[2]; Job 41:24 indicates the density and quality of millstones). Gristmills ground or milled the grain with a pair of millstones to create flour. The base or bedstone is stationary while the runner stone spins and grinds the wheat. Some grain is hand-milled, larger operations use oxen or donkey to turn the runner stones.

When Jesus taught us to pray, “give us our daily bread,” the underlying actions taken to make a loaf of bread by many people mean we have to live in harmony, working together in the marketplace. Not a balance of “equal or in the correct proportions,” but in harmony, “a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity,” between the marketplace and the community. Harmony means to “love your neighbor AS yourself,” it’s earning a living making money in the community, and not just taking money from the community. After 1928, the invention advertised sliced bread was as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped” leading to the popular idiom, “greatest thing since sliced bread.” Until we had sliced bread, we all “broke bread” together as a family and a community. 

When Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” He chose the word “bread” because of the number of disciplines or specialists (including men, women, and children) within the marketplace it takes to make bread for the community. He didn’t use the word “seed” or “flour” to discuss how we’re to pray, but “bread.” This is the final and completed step of getting one loaf of bread to one customer. Next up, we need to sit and break bread together.

Whether baking or buying a loaf of bread, people create the products (flour, sugar, yeast, etc.) for others to bake bread. Whether in a self-sufficient home, to start a side gig and sell extra loaves or cakes at the farmer’s market, or bake in bulk at a startup bakery food truck or bakery business.  

The planning, preparation, and production by skilled people with their time, tools, and efforts to produce bread requires a community, and we reap what we sow as a community. When Jesus says we’re to pray to our Father in heaven, “Give us this day our daily bread,” our bread starts from people working together in the marketplace. It finishes when we “love our neighbor as yourself and gather and break bread together as a community. We always make, bake, or break bread together.

[1] See A New Economic View of American History by Atack, Jeremy; Passell, Peter (1994), pp. 282–3.

[2] See Tanach, Stone’s Edition, Deut 24:6