Updated: Sep 28
Photo by William P. and Rochelle A. Houser - Creative Commons License Free Bible Images
Secret Recipe for Showbread
"I want to make to bake the showbread discussed in the Bible. Can you give me the recipe?" This may be one of the most frequent questions I receive from The Tabernacle Man YouTube traffic. If you search the internet, you will find people claiming to know the recipe for the 12 loaves of unleavened bread placed on the table of showbread (Leviticus 24:5-9). I spoke to one individual minister in Denver Colorado who believes the Lord has revealed to him instructions for preparing the dough and baking the showbread. I asked for the recipe but was denied. The fact is the recipe for this "consecrated bread (2 Chronicles 2:4) or "hallowed bread" (Numbers 4:7) was and is a guarded secret!
Bakers of the Bread - 1 Chronicles 9:31-32 JPS 1917
The Bible informs us that one family was assigned the sacred duty of gathering the ingredients, kneading the dough, baking the showbread, setting the bread on the table of showbread, and replacing the 12 loaves with fresh loaves every sabbath. The preparation of these cakes involved specific instructions which were kept secret by this priestly group.
"And Mattithiah, one of the Levites, who was the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, had the set office over the things that were baked on griddles. And some of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the showbread, to prepare it every sabbath."
According to the Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 5:1), the house or family of Garmu was assigned to bake the showbread for the Temple in Jerusalem. The bread this family prepared from the secret recipe never dried out or became stale during the seven days it laid on the table of showbread in the Holy Place. For more extensive information on the Garmu family, I recommend a review of the information provided by the Showbread Institute at:
https://www.showbreadinstitute.org/The-Mystery-of-the-Garmu-Family The Showbread Institute in Jerusalem offers workshops on biblical bread making. They offer a two-hour video of their workshop on baking showbread available for download.
The showbread was unleavened. It had to be baked quickly so that the dough would not absorb the natural leaven in the air, thus preventing any rising or puffing up of the dough. The Garmu family was known to be honest. The holy bread was made from clean flour that had been sifted many times. Guarding against any suspicion that they were using temple resources for personal benefit, the parents never let their children be seen eating any bread that was the same color or shape as the showbread.
The sages asked the Garmu family to teach others the secrets of preparing the showbread, but they refused and were temporarily released from the sacred duty. Specialists were brought in from Alexandria, Egypt, who knew how to bake bread, but in spite of their many attempts, their loaves became moldy.
Ingredients for Showbread
The Garmu family was summoned back to their sacred duties and the consecrated bread was once again offered in the temple. All we know from Leviticus 24:5 is each loaf was made from two-tenths parts of an ephah of fine flour. Jewish tradition indicates the secret recipe of the showbread was lost after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE (the "common era" of Judaism and early Christianity).
Wait, wait! Has the recipe been found?
Well, that is until after 2,000 years! What was lost has been found? In 2020 the headlines read: "People in Israel are Preparing Show-Bread for Service in Third Temple." If you would like to read the article search for the tile at www.israel365news.com.
adapted from the referenced article from Israel 365 News
Sorry to disappoint you. I cannot give you the recipe for showbread! The ancient recipe for the holy bread placed on the table of showbread still remains a secret.
Searching for recipes can be exciting. Researching the shape and sizes of the showbread cakes can provide fascinating knowledge of ancient temple practices. However, let us keep in mind the purpose of the table of showbread. The showbread was a daily reminder to the 12 tribes and the priests that the Lord was the one who sustained them from day to day. Efraim Levine in his Torah insights on Exodus 25:30 captures the essence of the meaning of the showbread.
"There are people whom Hashem blesses with an abundant measure of material blessing, whereas others are destitute and worry from where their next meal will come. Many find themselves somewhere in the middle. Each extreme has spiritual dangers. The wealthy are in danger of becoming haughty and forgetting that their blessing comes from Hashem. Furthermore, they are in danger of failing to fulfill their moral responsibility of assisting the less fortunate. On the other hand the poor are in danger of harboring bad feelings towards Hashem for their pitiful state. The shulchan teaches us that wherever one’s standing in this spectrum, he must recognize that material sustenance comes from Hashem. The wealthy view the shulchan as a reminded [sic] not to forget Hashem and their moral responsibly [sic] to the less fortunate. The poor view the shulcan as a symbol of faith and hope that their fortune will reverse for the better."
Every tribe's contribution toward the refining of the flour and the baking of the bread was of equal value. The bread of his presence was the great equalizer every week. Every member of each tribe was dependent upon the Lord for their sustenance.