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Hummus in the Bible

A theory, widely attributed to Meir Shalev (as Dr. Dafna Hirsh had commented, the writer and journalist Menahem Kapeliuk thought of it first), claims that hummus was first mentioned in the old testament.

On the first time Ruth and Boaz had met in Bethlehem, he offered her what seems to have been an ancient form of hummus: “And at meal-time Boaz said unto her, ‘Come hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar” (Ruth 2-14).

Vinegar is a slight mistranslation. The original word in ancient Hebrew is “Hometz” which not only sounds a bit like “Hummus”, but also resembles the word “Himtza”, the Hebrew name of chickpees.

True, “Hometz” in modern Hebrew is vinegar. But you don’t really think Boaz was so rude as to offer Ruth to dip her bread in vinegar, do you? Got to admit it’s more reasonable to think it was Hummus.

8 Comments on Hummus in the Bible

  1. The best Hummus in the world most definitely can NOT be in Cairo or Casablanca ! Neither the Morrocans Nor the Egyptians have the faintest
    clue about Hummus .

    Best hummus in the world ??? Most probably in Israel/Palestine , but which one ? Definitely not in Abu Ghosh village ! but to each his own fav …

  2. I think that the best Hummus is in Lebanon!

    Hummus is a Lebanese/phoenician invention!

    And Lebanon exists before the Bible.

  3. Talmudic scholars might argue that the Hebrew word appearing in Ruth 2:14 is “בחמץ” or “b’chometz”, which, as anyone who has participated in a Passover seder will tell you, is the word for “grain”, or, more modernly, “leavened food,” not “hummus.” As I am not a Talmudic scholar, I shall leave it unto them to argue this revelation.

    • Shooky Galili // May 7, 2014 at 4:44 pm // Reply

      skaizun – that’s a good point and an interesting explanation.

    • But, are chickpeas in many places not considered “grain” in a loose sense, as beans would be? Indeed, Ashkenazim cannot eat chickpeas during Passover.

      • That is by tradition, not by law. Chickpeas are not a food of Europe and the Ashkenazim. The Sephardis, yes, they do eat peas, beans, and rice on Passover … but that is part of their Mediterranean, Levantine tradition.

        • Shooky Galili // December 18, 2017 at 9:56 pm // Reply

          Actually it is by law, originating in the Jerusalem Talmud. Ashkenazim and Sparadis Halakha (Jewish law) evolved separately at several eras and there are many small differences.

          In the Babylonian Talmud there is also a discussion about legumes in Passover. They couldn’t figure out why it was forbidden by the sages of Jerusalem Talmud, but didn’t actually permit it, out of great respect to their colleges.

  4. Mark E Kouri // December 16, 2017 at 9:45 pm // Reply

    Best hummus? I make it at home.

4 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Hummus: is it Israeli or Arab? at The Hummus Blog
  2. Mideast Youth - Thinking Ahead » Blog Archive » The Best Hummus in the World!!
  3. Hummus – Best Tips | Seeking The Dish
  4. Hummus: Middle Eastern recipe for chickpeas | Healthy Lifestyle

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