About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Biblical Beer Making

There is an archaic English idiom, To cast your bread upon the water. It is said to mean “to act generously or charitably with no thought of personal gain.” Only a few people know that it is actually a quotation from the Bible. Some eager people of faith are particularly keen on this enigmatic pearl of wisdom although many of them would have real trouble finding it in the Bible. It is in the book of Ecclesiastes and it goes like this: 

    Cast your bread upon the water,
        in a number of days you will get it back.
    Offer a share to seven or to eight (people),

        you never know what risks lie ahead.

The opening advice sounds rather strange. Bread placed on the surface of water would hardly return in days, it will probably float for a moment, soon it would soak up water, sink and start to disintegrate. This does not resemble a gesture of selfless generosity; it is rather a blatant example of an insane wastefulness. This strangely disjointed advice certainly looks a little crazy, until we hear that this was exactly how ancient people made and enjoyed their beer! 
     They would malt(sprout or germinate) barley, grind it into meal, bake it into loaves (thus caramelizing the sugars), float bread in a water-filled jar (holding several gallons). The bread would  dissolve in the water, catch yeast from the air, start fermenting and in a few days they would have the brew. They would season it with spices, honey or date sugar and there would be enough for seven or eight people to enjoy this ancient variety of beer (it was about 2-3% alcohol). Most commonly they would drink it through long straws made of reeds with strainer tips at the bottom to keep the dregs out.

Bronze age strainer tips from Syria

This beer making is documented by artefacts, reliefs, inscriptions and archeological finds from all over the Ancient Middle East. It has also been re-created by modern experimental archeology. In the summer you can try it yourself at home. Just cast your bread upon the water; in a few days you would be able to invite friends for a really strange (some would say disgusting yet certainly unique) drink. Poor fundamentalists, if only they knew! Largely ignorant of ancient history and archeology, they endlessly sermonize about the blind trust and their conservative do-gooding.
    Come this Sunday, we will celebrate another, similarly surprising aspect and use of the barley crop. We will rejoice in an ancient model of unlocking of the harvest, redistribution of wealth and feeding of the multitudes.

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