Ancient Churches Lexicon Entry:


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In most ancient times, people never ate the flesh of any beast or bird, but only different kinds of grain, especially wheat in the form of bread, as well as fruits, vegetables, various milks and milk products such as butter. To them, slaughtering living creatures and eating their flesh was abominable and associated with the behavior of wild animals (AC 1002). For the ancients, eating was a symbol of appropriation, or the process of making something your own (AC 4211). And for this reason, it was forbidden from most ancient times for people to eat blood, because this symbolized the profanation of truth (AE 750). In the course of time, however, when people began to become even more savage than wild animals, they were permitted to kill animalsand eat their flesh, because such was their nature (AC 1002).

In the Ancient Church, eating symbolized making something your own and being joined together with others. For this reason, during feasts they ate bread to symbolize love to the Lord and drank wine to symbolize charity toward the neighbor. By making these things their own, the people present at the meal were joined together. They consequently spoke to each other from affection and shared each other’s company (AC 3596). The breaking of bread also symbolized mutual love (HD 218). These dinners in the Ancient Church were quite similar to the feasts of charity held in the early days of the Christian Church, where people strengthened each other’s resolve to maintain the Lord’s worship in heartfelt sincerity (TCR 727). It was also a practice among the ancients to eat together once they reached an important decision that was endorsed by everyone. By eating together they were indicating that they approved of the decision and so had made it their own (AC 4745).

It was because of this symbolism that the Egyptians, who at one point had been part of the Ancient Church, were unwilling to eat with the Hebrews. The Hebrews included the slaughter and sacrifice of different animals in their worship of God. Because this practice was objectionable to the Egyptians, they refused to eat with the Hebrews, because eating together symbolized spiritual association (AE 391).

The laws of the Ancient Church about which animals were good for eating and which were not were similar to the laws given to the Jewish nation, for that nation received these laws from the Second Ancient Church that began with Eber (AC 4449). For example, the people of the Ancient Church were forbidden, as the people of the Jewish Church would be later on, to eat anything that had died naturally, that is, was a carcass, because this symbolized a person adopting evils by their own consent (AC 4171).

See also:

Eber, Egypt, The Fall, Sacrifices

Passages relating to Food and the Ancient Churches:

AC 1002; AC 3596; AC 4171; AC 4211; AC 4449; AC 4745; AC 6791; AC 7996; AC 9412; AE 391; AE 543; AE 750; HD 218; TCR 727
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