Vegetables and herbs

Here are some websites: Vegetables from ancient times


After grain, legumes such as lentils, broad or fava beans, chickpeas and peas were the main element in the diet and were the main source of protein, since meat was rarely eaten.[23]

Broad beans, chickpeas and lentils are the only legumes mentioned in the Bible but lentils, broad beans, chickpeas, fenugreek, field peas and bitter vetch have been found at Iron Age Israelite sites. By the Roman period, legumes are mentioned frequently in other texts. They are cited as one of the elements of the “wife’s food basket” in the Mishna (Ketubot 5:8), by which it is estimated that legumes supplied 17% of daily calories at that time.[23]

Lentils were the most important of the legumes and were used to make pottages and soups, as well as cakes made from ground roasted lentils pressed and fried in oil and called ashishim (similar to Arabic felafel), such as those that King David is described as distributing to the people when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem.[24]

Stews made of lentils or beans were common and they were cooked with onion, garlic and leeks for flavor. Fresh legumes were also roasted, or dried and stored for extended periods. They were then cooked in a soup or a stew. The Bible mentions roasted legumes (2 Samuel 17:28), and relates how Jacob prepared bread and a pottage of lentils for Esau (Genesis 25:29-34).[15][23]


Vegetables are not found often in the archaeological record and it is difficult to determine the role that they played, because plant foods were often eaten raw or were simply boiled, without requiring special equipment for preparation, and thus barely leaving any trace other than the type of food itself.[25] Vegetables also are not mentioned often in the written record, and when the Bible does mention them, the attitude is mixed: sometimes they are regarded as a delicacy, but more often, they were held in low esteem (for example, (Proverbs 15:17, Daniel 1:11-15).[23][26] Vegetables were perhaps a more important food at the extremes in society: the wealthy who could afford to dedicate land and resources to grow them, and the poor who depended on gathering them in the wild to supplement their meager supplies. More people may have gathered wild plants during famine conditions.[23]

Vegetables that were commonly eaten included squash, leeks, garlic and onions, black radishes, net or muskmelons (sometimes misidentified as the cucumber) and watermelons.[27] Other vegetables played a minor role in the diet of the ancient Israelites. Field greens and root plants were generally not cultivated and were gathered seasonally when they grew in the wild.[26] Leafy plants included dandelion greens and the young leaves of the orach plant.[18][26]

Leeks, onions and garlic were eaten both cooked in stews, and uncooked with bread, and their popularity may be indicated by the observation in the Bible that they are among the foods that the Israelites yearned for after leaving Egypt.[18][28] Squash and melons were eaten raw, or flavored with vinegar. Black radishes were also were eaten raw when in season during the autumn and winter. The Talmud mentions the use of radish seeds to produce oil, and considered eating radishes to have health benefits.[28]

Wild lettuce, or "chazeret", was eaten as a bitter herb at the Passover meal

Wild herbs were collected and were eaten uncooked or cooked. These are known to have included garden rocket and mallow[27] and both leaf chicory and endive.[29]

Wild lettuce, known as chazeret, was a leafy herb with prickly, red tinged leaves that became bitter as they matured. It was cultivated from around 800 BCE. Sweeter head-lettuce was only developed and introduced by the Romans. Bitter herbs eaten at the Passover sacrifice with the unleavened bread, matza, were known as merorim. "Chazeret" is listed in the Mishna (Pesahim 2:6) as the preferred bitter herb for this Passover ritual, along with other bitter herbs, including chicory or endive (ulshin), horehound (tamcha), reichardia or eryngo (charchavina) and wormwood (maror).[27][30]

Mushrooms, especially of the Boletus type, were gathered in many areas, particularly when plentiful after a major rainfall. The Talmud mentions mushrooms in connection with their exemption from tithes and as a dessert at the Passover seder.[31]

Sesame seeds were used in the preparation of oil, or were eaten dry, or were added to dishes such as stews as a flavoring; the leftovers after pressing out the oil were eaten in a cake form.[32] The Hebrew for sesame, shumshum, is related to the Akkadian samassammu, meaning “oil plant”, as the seeds contain about 50% oil, which was pressed from the seeds. Sesame is not mentioned in the Bible, but the Mishna lists sesame oil as suitable for lighting the Sabbath lights, and the oil was also used for frying.[33]