Originally the Creator granted the use of the vegetable world for food to man (Gen. 1:29), with the exception mentioned (2:17). The use of animal food was probably not unknown to the antediluvians. There is, however, a distinct law on the subject given to Noah after the Deluge (Gen. 9:2-5). Various articles of food used in the patriarchal age are mentioned in Gen. 18:6-8; 25:34; 27:3, 4; 43:11. Regarding the food of the Israelites in Egypt, see Ex. 16:3; Num. 11:5. In the wilderness their ordinary food was miraculously supplied in the manna. They had also quails (Ex. 16:11-13; Num. 11:31).
In the law of Moses there are special regulations as to the animals to be used for food (Lev. 11; Deut. 14:3-21). The Jews were also forbidden to use as food anything that had been consecrated to idols (Ex. 34:15), or animals that had died of disease or had been torn by wild beasts (Ex. 22:31; Lev. 22:8). (See also for other restrictions Ex. 23:19; 29:13-22; Lev. 3:4-9; 9:18, 19; 22:8; Deut. 14:21.) But beyond these restrictions they had a large grant from God (Deut. 14:26; 32:13, 14).
Food was prepared for use in various ways. The cereals were sometimes eaten without any preparation (Lev. 23:14; Deut. 23:25; 2 Kings 4:42). Vegetables were cooked by boiling (Gen. 25:30, 34; 2 Kings 4:38, 39), and thus also other articles of food were prepared for use (Gen. 27:4; Prov. 23:3; Ezek. 24:10; Luke 24:42; John 21:9). Food was also prepared by roasting (Ex. 12:8; Lev. 2:14). (See COOK.)