The Hebrew word leʹchem and the Greek word arʹtos (both meaning “bread”) are also rendered ‘loaf.’ (1Sa 10:4; Mt 14:17) Bread loaves, generally made from barley or wheat flour (2Ki 4:42; Joh 6:9; compare Ex 34:22 with Le 23:17), were often circular. (Jg 7:13; 1Sa 10:3; Jer 37:21) In fact, the Hebrew word kik·karʹ (round loaf) literally means “something round.” (1Sa 2:36) Of course, loaves were also formed into other shapes. An Egyptian papyrus document mentions over 30 different forms of bread.
Ancient specimens from Bible lands include relatively thin round, oval, triangular, and wedge-shaped cakes or loaves and thick, long loaves. (See BREAD; CAKE.) However, the thick loaves, like those of the Western world, do not appear to have been common in the ancient Middle East. Even today Oriental bread is baked in thin loaves, usually from 1 to 2.5 cm (0.5 to 1 in.) in thickness and about 18 cm (7 in.) in diameter.
Since they were relatively thin and, if unleavened, brittle, loaves of bread were broken rather than cut. So in itself there is nothing special about Jesus’ ‘breaking’ the loaf used at the institution of the Lord’s Evening Meal (Mt 26:26), it being the customary way to partake of bread.—Mt 14:19; 15:36; Mr 6:41; 8:6; Lu 9:16; Ac 2:42, 46, Int.