Man does not live by bread alone

Published 5:52pm Monday, July 29, 2013

By Dr. James Troglen

Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. – Matthew 4:4. Those are the first words my friend said to me as we spoke over the phone.
This friend was a co-worker on the Bethsaida archaeological dig we both were at a few weeks ago. The words go back to our experiences eating at Huqoq Balev in the hills of Galilee.
Huqoq is not a tourist hotel, it is for native Israelis so they don’t cook for American tourists. In other words, “You take what you get!”
I like Middle Eastern food – really I do, so that is why I was so surprised at Huqoq. One night I asked the man at the line what the meat was. He did not understand any English and after talking to a girl near him he said “beef.”
It looked a bit like roast beef so I got some. Sitting down next to one of the site archaeologists, Toni, I took a big bite. It seems she had done the same thing at the same moment. Suddenly we both looked at each other with wide eyes and stuffed mouths.
With a full mouth I mumbled, “Wot iz thees? Pleez dwont tell meee itz leeevr.” It was. I had a mouth full of liver and was close to death, or so I thought.
Understand, I hate liver. I don’t eat innards, especially liver! Liver to me tastes like what the water left over a bucket of rusty nails would taste like after two months of sitting. That is what I think anyway.
Out of politeness we both choked it down, but for the rest of the week when the cook said “beef,” I thought, “not again buddy just give me chicken.”
Then one day as I got my chicken and sat down I was next to Toni again and I took a bite while she mischievously watched me. It was not chicken. It was more of what you would expect a chicken crossed with a road kill armadillo would taste like.
Toni shared it was a special dish made with wild pigeons. By then I had become a vegetarian. For the next few weeks I ate salads of all sorts along with yogurts and humus (Hebrew for yechhhh!).
On the dig site we prepared breakfast at 9:30 a.m. each day. Remember we went to work at 5 a.m.. each day. Breakfast was sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, chocolate pillows (cereal), yogurt, peanut butter and bread. Imagine how tired you can get with that menu.
One day we had something new on the table, white and lumpy. Rami, the chief archaeologist, said it was “snow milk,” and urged me to try it. I did and discovered what he called “snow milk,” was cottage cheese.”
Great – then I couldn’t even eat dairy products safely anymore in Israel. As you can see I was beginning to get into quite a quandary.
Bread, butter and water were all I could be sure of and that’s what you feed prisoners! I lost some needed weight, however unwillingly it was.
Imagine my relief when we moved to Nof Ginnosar, a seashore tourist destination with a reputation of catering to Americans. The food was great and I was gaining my weight back during the week.
All was great, and on my last night there Rami had arranged a special dish for my leaving. He said he understood my chagrin at Hoquq and apologized to us all over it and hoped this would make up for it.
We had a royal repast and as I closed my mouth on my pot roast, I heard the voice – “it’s beef.” Too late – it was liver. Ughhh! Gaaggg! I thought I was going to be sick. Not a nice trick to play on volunteers.
Yes, man does not live by bread alone. But it does say “not by bread alone” not “without” bread.

Dr. James Troglen is pastor of First Baptist Church of Wetumpka.

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