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(only in the plural עֲדָשַׁים, adashim', prob. from an obsolete root signifying to fodder; Sept. φακός, Vulg. lens) is probably a correct rendering of the plant thus designated (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 17:28; 2 Samuel 23:11; Ezekiel 4:9). In Syria lentiles are still called in Arabic addas (Russel, N. H. of Aleppo, 1:74). They appear to have been chiefly used for making a kind of pottage. The red pottage, for which Esau bartered his birthright, was of lentiles (Genesis 25:29-34). The term red was, as with us, extended to yellowish-brown, which must have been the true color of the pottage if derived from lentiles, being that of the seeds rather than that of the pods, which were sometimes cooked entire (Mishna, Shabb. 7:4). The Greeks and Romans also called lentiles red (see authorities in Celsius, Hieroboltalic. 1:105). Lentiles were among the provisions brought to David when he fled from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:28), and a field of lentiles was the scene of an exploit of one of David's heroes (2 Samuel 23:11). From Ezekiel 4:9, it would appear that lentiles were sometimes used as bread (comp. Athen. 4:158).

This was doubtless in times of scarcity, or by the poor (compare Aristoph. Plut. 1005). Sonnini (Travels, p. 603) assures us that in southernmost Egypt, where corn is comparatively scarce, lentiles mixed with a little barley form almost the only bread in use among the poorer classes. It is called bettan, is of a golden yellow color, and is not bad, although rather heavy. In that country, indeed, probably even more than in Palestine, lentiles anciently, as now, formed a chief article of food among the laboring classes. This is repeatedly noticed by ancient authors; and so much attention was paid to the culture of this useful pulse that certain varieties became remarkable for their excellence (comp. Dioscor. 2:129). The lentiles of Pelusium, in the part of Egypt nearest to Palestine, were esteemed both in Egypt and foreign countries (Virgil, Georg. 1:228), and this is probably the valued Egyptian variety which is mentioned in the uishna (Kilnaim, 18:8) as neither large nor small. Large quantities of lentiles were exported from Alexandria (Augustine, Comm. in Psalms 46). Pliny, in mentioning two Egyptian varieties, incidentally lets us know that one of them was red (compare Diog. Laertius, 7:3), by remarking that they like a red soil, and by speculating whether the pulse may not have thence derived the reddish color which it imparted to the pottage made with it (Histor. Nattur. 18:12). This illustrates Jacob's red pottage. Dr. Shaw (1:257) also states that these lentiles easily dissolve in boiling, and form a red or chocolate- colored pottage mulch esteemed in North Africa and Western Asia (see Thomson, Land and Book, 1:409).

Dr. Kitto also says that he has often partaken of red pottage, prepared by seething the lentiles in water and then adding a little suet to give them a flavor, and that he found it better food than a stranger would imagine; "the mess," he adds, "had the redness which gained for it the name of adorn" (Pict. Bible, Genesis 25:30; Genesis 25:34). Putting these facts together, it is likely that the reddish lentile, which is now so common in Egypt (Descript. de l'Egypte, 19:65), is the sort to which all these statements refer. The tomb-paintings actually exhibit the operation of preparing pottage of lentiles, or, as Wilkinson ( Anc. Egyptians, 2:387) describes it, "a man engaged in cooking lentiles for a soup or porridge; his companion brings a bundle of fagots for the fire, and the lentiles themselves are seen standing near him in wicker baskets." The lentiles of Palestine have been little noticed by travelers (e.g. Burckhardt, Arab. p. 51). Nau (Voyage Nouveau, p. 13) mentions lentiles along with corn and peas, as a principal article of traffic at Tortura; D'Arvieux (Mem. 2:237) speaks of a mosque, originally a Christian church, over the patriarchal tomb at Hebron, connected with which was a large kitchen where lentile pottage was prepared every day, and distributed freely to strangers and poor people, in memory of the transaction between Esau and Jacob, which they (erroneously) believe to have taken place at this spot. When Dr. Robinson was at Akabah, he says: "The commissary in the castle had also a few stores for sale at enormous prices, but we bought little except a supply of lentiles, or small beans, which are common in Egypt and Syria under the name of addas (the name in Hebrew and Arabic being alike) the same from which the pottage was made for which Esau sold his birthright. We found them very palatable, and could well conceive that, to a weary hunter faint with hunger, they might be quite a dainty" (Bib. Res. 1:146). Again, when at Hebron, on the 24th of May, he observes: "The wheat harvest here in the mountains had not yet arrived, but they were threshing barley, addas or lentiles, and also vetches, called by the Arabs kersuma, which are raised chiefly for camels" (Bib. Res. 2:242).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Lentile'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Lentulus, Epistle of
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