COOKING, COOKING UTENSILS
The preparing of food by boiling, roasting, or baking was usually considered the duty of the women in the Hebrew household, but on certain occasions meals were prepared by men. (Ge 18:6-8; 27:3-9, 14, 30, 31; 1Sa 8:13; 2Sa 13:8) When living in tents, the Hebrews probably did most of their cooking outdoors. When settled in Canaan, living in stone houses, they did some cooking in the home, particularly during inclement weather. (Jg 6:19; 2Sa 13:7-11) The bulk of the cooking done was for the evening meal, the major meal of the day. (Lu 14:12; Re 3:20) Nothing could be cooked on the regular Sabbath day, for the Law forbade even the lighting of a fire.—Ex 35:3.
The Hebrews used various utensils and pieces of equipment in preparing food. There was the hand mill, operated by the women of the household. (De 24:6; Mt 24:41; see MILL.) For spices or smaller quantities of grain, the mortar and pestle sufficed. (Nu 11:8; see MORTAR, I.) Bread dough was mixed in a kneading trough (Ex 12:34) and baked on a hearth or in an oven.—Ex 8:3; 1Ch 9:31.
Forks were employed at the tabernacle and, later on, at the temple. (Ex 27:3; 2Ch 4:16) Mention is made of a three-pronged fork used by the priests. (1Sa 2:12-14) Household cooks may have used a similar fork to take meat out of a pot. They had knives of various kinds to cut up meat for cooking. There is no Scriptural indication that they used knives and forks when eating.
Vessels designed for cooking were generally made of earthenware, although some of them were of copper, such being particularly mentioned in connection with the sanctuary. (Le 6:28) Among household cooking utensils were pots, round containers, varying considerably in size. Bronze cooking pots that stood on legs are depicted in Egyptian tomb paintings, and it is possible that the complaining Israelites in the wilderness had such vessels in mind when they spoke of “sitting by the pots of meat” in Egypt. (Ex 16:3) The Hebrew word translated “pots” in this passage is the one generally used to designate the widemouthed pot, which might be used for washing (Ps 60:8) or for cooking. (2Ki 4:38-41; Eze 24:3-5) These came in varied sizes, from the average-sized one about 30 cm (12 in.) in diameter on up to very large ones. Early specimens of this relatively shallow type of pot lacked handles, but during the time of the divided kingdom in Israel a two-handled variety came into use.
Narrow-mouthed cooking pots having one or two handles have been found. They were of more-or-less spherical shape, from about 10 to 36 cm (4 to 14 in.) in diameter.
The Israelites also possessed deep-fat kettles or deep pans and also griddles. Grain offerings were frequently prepared in these. (Le 2:5, 7; 7:9; 1Ch 23:29) Examples of earthenware griddles have been discovered at Gezer. These had small depressions, comparable to the waffle iron of today. Iron griddles were also in use.—Eze 4:1-3.
The Scriptures sometimes use cooking pots in a figurative sense. Jerusalem, which was due to be destroyed in 607 B.C.E., was likened to a widemouthed cooking pot, with its inhabitants as the flesh in it.—Eze 11:1-12; 24:6-14; see VESSELS.