לחם בית - Beit Lechem - The House of Bread
By Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)
(Genesis) 2:8-9 And HaShem G-d planted a garden eastward in
Bereshit (Genesis) 2:7 And HaShem G-d formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
The “Man from the ground” (Adam) was to tend and dress the “Trees from the ground”. Like the trees, Adam is a seed in the hand of The Sower. Indeed, The offspring of both the tree and Adam are both called “seed”.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
Matityahu (Matthew) 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of G-d.
Adam was a man from the ground, and HaShem desires that the ones
from the ground should bear fruit. Adam was “placed” in
the garden of Eden by HaShem,
the most fertile and productive place on earth, that he might bring forth much
fruit. There, HaShem was going to sow in Man the seed of His mitzvot (His
instruction) and wait for that seed to be accepted,
kept, and made to flourish and bear fruit in the end, to His glory. For when
G-d created the grass, plants and fruit bearing trees we are told that He
placed their "seed... upon (
Through the keeping of the mitzvot, Adam was to bring forth fruit, bearing seed, like the trees were to bring forth fruit, bearing seed. Adam was also commanded to bring HaShem the “fruit” of glory by our praise:
We are, therefore, meant to be trees of righteousness which bring forth fruit bearing seed:
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 6:13 But yet in it [shall be] a tenth, and [it] shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance [is] in them, when they cast [their leaves: so] the holy seed [shall be] the substance thereof.
We can trace throughout the Holy Scriptures the imagery of Man as a "tree":
Tehilim (Psalm) 1:3-4 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly [are] not so: but [are] like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
92:12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow
like a cedar in
Tehilim (Psalm) 128:3 Thy wife [shall be] as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Mishle (Proverbs) 11:30 The fruit of the righteous [is] a tree of life; and he that winneth souls [is] wise.
Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) 2:3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 44:3-4 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up [as] among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of HaShem, that he might be glorified.
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and [that] spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
Thus, in the book of Devarim the people were told to spare the fruit trees and not cut them down "for the tree of the field is man [Adam].":
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 20:19 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field [is] man's [life]) to employ [them] in the siege:
Bereshit (Genesis) 3:17-19 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.
The field must now be ploughed, harrowed, sown and tilled. The wheat must then be reaped, threshed, winnowed and ground. The dough then mixed and kneaded, molded into loaves and baked. All this, before there is bread to eat. Perhaps, that is why "the bread of men":
Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 24:22 And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover [your] lips, nor eat the bread of men.
Is referred to as "the bread of affliction":
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, [even] the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.
"Bread of sorrows":
"Bread of adversity":
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 30:20 And [though] the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
"Bread of tears":
It is "bread gotten by sweat". It is bread “taken” from the ground by hard and excruciating labor.
If Adam had kept the mitzvot of HaShem, he would never have had to extract bread in this manner. He would never have had to labor to extract his own physical and spiritual nourishment from the “field”. You see, bread is also a hint to The Word of G-d:
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of HaShem doth man live.
The grain that is ground to make bread is also a hint to the righteous:
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 21:10 O my threshing, and the corn
of my floor: that which I have heard of HaShem of
hosts, the G-d of
Luqas (Luke) 3:16-17 John answered, saying unto [them] all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
Midrash Rabbah - Numbers
IV:1 A king had numerous
granaries all of which contained much refuse and were full of rye-grass. He was
consequently not particular about the quantity of the contents. He had,
however, one particular granary which he perceived to be
a fine one. Said he to a member of his house: ‘Those
granaries consist of refuse and are full of rye-grass. Be not, therefore,
particular about the quantity of the contents. As regards this one, however, ascertain how many kors, how many sacks, how
many modii it contains.’ Thus, ‘the king’ is the supreme King of kings, the
Holy One, blessed be He; ‘the granary’ is Israel- O thou
my threshing, and the winnowing of my floor (Isaiah 21:10). So also it is said:
Armed with this knowledge, we can now understand why the enemies of Yirmeyahu said:
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 11:19 But I [was] like a lamb [or] an ox [that] is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, [saying], Let us destroy the tree with the bread thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.
This was interpreted by them to mean: "kiss the Messiah". And
this "King Messiah... from where does he come
forth? From the royal city of
Micah 5:2 "And you Bethlehem- Ephratha, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me the one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity."
O, thou Bethlehem Ephrata ... although thou art little in the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth unto me a Man, a Ruler in Israel whose goings forth are from the days of old ... that is from the Seed of David ... who was of Bethlehem Judah. (Abarbanel, Mashmiah Jeshua, fol. 62, c. 2).
Although thou art little among the thousands of
In ancient times
Bereshit (Genesis) 35:16-19 And they journeyed from Beth-el; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which [is] Beth-lehem.
Thus we go from “Fruitful” to the “House of Bread”. This is why we go from barley as the omer offering after Pesach, to the two loaves of bread as an offering at Shavuot. We are going from “Fruitful” to “The House of Bread”.
When the Lord told Abraham and Sarah that through their progeny kings would come forth:
Bereshit (Genesis) 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
Bereshit (Genesis) 25:29-34 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he [was] faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red [pottage]; for I [am] faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I [am] at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised [his] birthright.
Jacob was told that kings would come forth from his loins:
Jacob had twelve
sons, Reuben being the eldest held the birthright,
and it would have been from him that the parentage of a line of kings would
have ensued. But Reuben lost his birthright when he lay
with his father's concubine Bilhah at the southern border of
(Genesis) 35:21-22 And
Jacob had gone there to camp very shortly after his wife Rachel died giving birth to his youngest child Benjamin.
Rachel expired at the northern border of
35:19 "Rachel died and was
buried on the way to Efrat, which is
Although Beit Lechem achieved fame in later years as the birthplace and early home of King David, it is principally associated with the Tomb of Rachel.
Our Sages tell us that Yaakov buried her there on Divine orders so that when Nevuzradan, the Babylonian conqueror of Eretz Yisrael, would lead her children into exile past her tomb, Mother Rachel would rise from her grave to pray to Heaven for their return.
Beit-Lechem became the center of the tribe
Shoftim (Judges) 12:8 And
after him Ibzan (also known as Boaz [Ibn Ezra,
Judges 12:8]) of Beth-lehem judged
It was in Beit Lechem that David was anointed as King over
1 Shmuel (Samuel) 16:4-13 And Samuel did that which HaShem spake, and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto HaShem: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely HaShem's anointed [is] before him. But HaShem said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [HaShem seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but HaShem looketh on the heart. Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath HaShem chosen this. Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath HaShem chosen this. Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, HaShem hath not chosen these. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all [thy] children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he [was] ruddy, [and] withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And HaShem said, Arise, anoint him: for this [is] he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of HaShem came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
If One wanted to speak
of the town of royalty, Beit Lechem would be on the tip of the tongue. This is truly the city
(Luke) 2:4-14 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of
the city of
Bethlehem-Judah, the city of
1 Divrei Hayamin (Chronicles) 2:50-51 These were the sons of Caleb the son of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah; Shobal the father of Kirjath-jearim, Salma the father of Beth-lehem, Hareph the father of Beth-gader.
Salma was a direct descendant of the spy "from the tribe of
Joshua 14:6 Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that HaShem said unto Moses the man of G-d concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea.
The Kennizzites were descendants of Kenaz, son of
Eliphaz, the son of Esau:
Bereshit (Genesis) 36:10-11 These [are] the names of Esau's sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau. And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz.
(Genesis) 46:12 And the sons of
Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zarah: but Er and Onan died in
1 Divrei Hayamin (Chronicles) 2:18-20 And Caleb the son of Hezron begat [children] of Azubah [his] wife, and of Jerioth: her sons [are] these; Jesher, and Shobab, and Ardon. And when Azubah was dead, Caleb took unto him Ephrath (Miriam sister of Moshe), which bare him Hur. And Hur begat Uri, and Uri begat Bezaleel.
In Salma, therefore, the founder of
Midrash Rabbah - Exodus
I:17 AND IT CAME TO PASS,
BECAUSE THE MIDWIVES FEARED GOD, THAT HE BUILT THEM HOUSES (I, 21). Rab and
Levi discussed this. One says: It means that they
established priestly and levitical families; and the other, that they were
founders of a royal family. Priestly and levitical families-from Moses and
Aaron; a royal family from Miriam, because David descended from Miriam, as it
is written: And Caleb the son of Hezron begot Azubah his wife-and of
Jerioth-and these were her sons: Jasher, and Shobab and Ardon (I Chron. II,
18). ’Azubah’ is Miriam; and why was she so called? Because all had forsaken
her. He begot’? But she was his wife! This is to teach
you, said R. Johanan, that if one marries a woman for
the sake of heaven, he is regarded as if he had given
birth to her. ‘Jerioth’-because her face
was like the curtains of (yeri'oth) the tabernacle.
And these are her sons’-do not pronounce it banehah (her sons) but bonehah (her builders). ’Jasher’ is Caleb, because he
rectified (yashir) his ways. Shobab,’ because he disciplined (shibbeb) himself.
‘Ardon,’ because he chastised (ridah) his soul. ’And Azubah died’-to teach us that she was ill and was treated as if already
dead, Caleb too forsaking her. ‘And Caleb took unto him Ephrath,’ this is
Miriam. And why was she called Ephrath? Because
And did not King Solomon, David's son, bless the people, consecrate the middle court of the Temple, and also offer sacrifices himself at the inauguration?
Melachim (Kings) 8:53-54 And
Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings,
which he offered unto HaShem, two
and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children
Caleb, the spy and forefather of Salma the founder of
* * *
Migdal-eder: "tower of the flock", a shepherd's
We mentioned earlier that Reuben lost his birthright when he
lay with his father's concubine Bilhah at the
southern border of Beit Lechem by the
(Genesis) 35:21-22 And
From this we can understand the Messianic fulfillment of the prophet’s words:
The Targum translates the “tower of the flock” as being “The
Anointed One of the flock of
Luqas (Luke) 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Kiddushin 55a We learnt elsewhere: If an animal is found between Jerusalem and Migdal Eder or an equal distance [from the city] in any direction: the males are burnt-offerings; the females are peace-offerings.
There's a story in the Talmud, Masechet Derech Eretz (Chapter 4), which relates that once Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar was coming from Migdal Eder, from his teacher's house, and he was riding leisurely on his horse by the seaside. A certain man chanced to meet him, and the man was exceedingly ugly. Rabbi Shimon said to him, "Raka (simpleton), how ugly are the children of Abraham our father." The other man replied, "What can I do for you? Speak to the Craftsman Who made me." Rabbi Shimon immediately dismounted from his horse and bowed before the man and said, "I apologize to you, forgive me." He replied to him, "I will not forgive you until you go to the Craftsman Who made me and say, "How ugly is the vessel which You have made."
Rabbi Shimon walked behind him for three
miles. When the people in town heard of the arrival of Rabbi Shimon, they came
out to meet him and greeted him with the words, "Peace be unto you,
rabbi." The other man said to them, "Who are you calling rabbi?"
They answered, "The man who is walking behind
you." Thereupon he exclaimed, "If this man is a rabbi, may there not
be any more like him in
Edersheim discusses this issue, as well. He informs us:
That the Messiah was to be born
in Bethlehem,[ In the curious story of His birth,
related in the Jerusalem Talmud
(Ber. ii. 3), He is said to have been born in 'the royal castle of Bethlehem;'
while in the parallel narrative in the Midrash on
Lamentations 1:16, ed. W. p. 64 b) the somewhat mysterious expression is used
But we must keep in view the Rabbinic statement that, even if a castle falls
down, it is still called a castle (Yalkut, vol. ii. p. 60 b).] was a settled
conviction. Equally so was the belief, that He was to be revealed from Migdal
Eder, 'the tower of the flock.' [Targum Pseudo-Jon. on Gen. 35:21.] This Migdal
Eder was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the
barren sheepground beyond
* * *
Much of this study was derived from an excellent set of articles at: http://www.eliyyahu.com/
The author was unnamed.
This study was written by Hillel ben David
Comments may be submitted to:
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