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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Leaven And Ferment

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The organic chemists define the process of fermentation, and the substance which excites it, as follows:—'Fermentation is nothing else but the putrefaction of a substance containing no nitrogen. Ferment, or yeast, is a substance in a state of putrefaction, the atoms of which are in a continual motion.' This definition is in strict accordance with the views of the ancients, and gives point and force to many passages of Sacred Writ ( [grieved—A.V.]; ; ; ; ; ; ; ). Leaven, and fermented or even some readily fermentable substances (as honey), were prohibited in many of the typical institutions both of the Jews and Gentiles. Plutarch assigns as the reason why the priest of Jupiter was not allowed to touch leaven, 'that it comes out of corruption, and corrupts that with which it is mingled.' All fermented substances were prohibited in the Paschal Feast of the Jews (; ); also during the succeeding seven days, usually called 'The Feast of Unleavened Bread,' though bread is not in the original. God forbade either ferment or honey to be offered to Him in his temple (i.e. in the symbolical rites), while they were permitted in offerings designed to be consumed as food (). On the same principle of symbolism, God prescribes that salt shall always constitute a part of the oblations to Him (). Salt prevents corruption or decay, and preserves flesh. Hence it is used as a symbol of incorruption and perpetuity. Thus St. Paul (comp. ; ) uses 'salt' as preservative from corruption, on the same principle which leads him to employ that which is unfermented as an emblem of purity and uncorruptedness.

'The usual leaven in the East is dough kept till it becomes sour, and which is kept from one day to another for the purpose of preserving leaven in readiness. Thus, if there should be no leaven in all the country for any length of time, as much as might be required could easily be produced in twenty-four hours. Sour dough, however, is not exclusively used for leaven in the East, the lees of wine being in some parts employed as yeast.'





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Leaven And Ferment'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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