He Took the Bread and Brake and Blessed It and He Gave Unto the Disciples and Commanded That They Should Eat

Alan C. Miner

Donna Nielsen writes that biblical peoples (Middle Easterners) have strong associations between covenants and the idea of a covenant meal to seal an agreement. Eating a covenant meal together in biblical times was a way to ratify pacts or treaties. By consuming meals together, they symbolically became members of the same family. This was especially true regarding bread. Through partaking from the same loaf at the same table, even strangers became companions, a word whose literal meaning is "one with whom bread is broken." Some linguists believe that the Hebrew word for "covenant" (berith) possibly had its origin in the Hebrew word meaning "to eat with salt." A frequent saying repeated by people from the Middle East is, "There is bread and salt between us," meaning that we are one by solemn agreement. To break a "bread and salt covenant" violates something that is considered sacred. [Donna B. Nielsen, Beloved Bridegroom: Finding Christ in Ancient Jewish Marriage and Family Customs, p. 20]

3 Nephi 18:3 He took the bread and brake and blessed it ([Illustration]): That Ye Do Always. Jesus institutes the sacrament among His disciples in America. Artist: Gary Kapp. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 545]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary