Jana Riess at Religion News Service writes about her perplexity over the marketing of "Ezekiel Bread." Apparently the receipe of the bread is based on Ezekiel 4:9-12. Now, I've seen that bread at my local store on many occasions, but I never stopped to think too much about it, since it didn't look like anything I'd care to eat. According to Jana, my instinct may have been correct, based on how the passage should be read:
In the context of the whole Book of Ezekiel, the recipe is not put forward as a delightful whole-grain alternative to processed foods, but as a sign of God’s coming punishment of the people. The message was something like, “If you all don’t repent, then this is the kind of survivalist garbage you will be reduced to eating during the coming siege!”
But that hasn’t stopped some modern people from treating this recipe as a sign of the healthy, nutritious fare God would have for us today. The Food for Life company produces and markets several versions of Ezekiel 4:9 bread, including variations with sesame, flax, and—I kid you not—cinnamon-raisin.
But wait, Jana points out that, if you read the passage in its entirety, it gets even better!
Although the company has mostly adhered to the letter of the law in terms of ingredients, one hopes that its method of preparation has been modernized from Ezekiel’s, who was instructed to bake his bread in human excrement. When Ezekiel protested about the unhygienic source material of his meals, God relented a little, allowing him to use cow dung instead (Ezek. 4:15). So when Food for Life’s website encourages consumers to “try [the bread] served warm to release its exceptionally rich nutty flavor,” I just don’t think so.
So, the next time you're at Whole Foods, and pass those loaves of "Ezekiel Bread" in the refridgerated section (!), bear this in mind. Whole grain bread may be delicious and nutritious, but that wasn't Ezekiel's point, and we can only hope that the company that makes this bread does not follow the recipe to the letter.