LENTIL (Heb. עֲדָשָׁה, adashah, pl. עֲדָשִׁים, adashim), the legume Lens esculenta, one of the earliest of the flora of Israel. Remains dating to over 3,000 years ago have been discovered in excavations and in Egyptian tombs of the 12th dynasty as food for the dead. In the Bible they are mentioned as the red "pottage of lentils" for which Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (Gen. 25:29–34). They were supplied by Barzillai the Gileadite to David's forces (II Sam. 17:28), and were included in the bread mixture that the prophet Ezekiel was commanded to eat for 390 days (Ezek. 4:9–10). In mishnaic and talmudic times, lentils were the most important of the legumes and many details about them occur in this literature. They lie on the surface of the ground, hence the expression "as lowly as the lentil" (TJ, Sanh. 2:5, 20b). The seed is like a discus – "round like a sphere" and has no protuberance – "the lentil has no mouth." The custom therefore obtained of providing mourners with lentils to eat, to symbolize that "the mourner has no mouth," i.e., is obliged to be silent, and that mourning is "a wheel that revolves throughout the world," all men being mortal (BB 16b; Gen. R. 63:14). In addition to the species with a reddish seed there was a dark brown species (TJ, Shab. 7:6–end, 10d). Lentils were essentially the food of the common people; fastidious people who abstained from eating them suffered harm when obliged to do so (Ket. 67b). On the other hand it is mentioned that lentils were served at the table of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel (Beẓah 14b). Like other legumes they leave a bad smell in the mouth but they are noted as a remedy for diphtheria (Ber. 40a). A delicacy called ashishim was sometimes prepared from them. It consisted of "ground roast lentils kneaded in honey and fried" (TJ, Ned. 6:15, 40a). This is apparently the scriptural ashishah ("sweet cake"; I Chron. 16:3), regarded as a cure for lovesickness (Song 2:5). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew, Flora, 2 (1924), 442–52; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), index; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 159–61. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 108. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Lentil — Len til (l[e^]n t[i^]l), n. [F. lentille, fr. L. lenticula, dim. of lens, lentis, lentil. Cf. {Lens}.] (Bot.) A leguminous plant of the genus {Ervum} ({Ervum Lens}), of small size, common in the fields in Europe. Also, its seed, which is used for …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lentil — mid 13c., from O.Fr. lentille lentil, also freckle, from L. lenticula, dim. of L. lens (gen. lentis) lentil, cognate with Gk. lathyros, Ger. linse, O.C.S. lД™ЕЎta …   Etymology dictionary

  • lentil — ► NOUN ▪ a high protein pulse which is dried and then soaked and cooked prior to eating. ORIGIN Latin lenticula, from lens lentil …   English terms dictionary

  • lentil — [lent′ l] n. [ME < OFr lentille < L lenticula, dim. of lens, lentil] 1. an Old World plant (Lens culinaris) of the pea family with small, edible seeds shaped like biconvex lenses 2. the seed of this plant …   English World dictionary

  • Lentil — This article is about the species Lens culinaris. For the meaning of lentil in Indian English, see pulse (legume). For the toor (sometimes called lentil in Indian English), see pigeon pea. Lentil Lentils …   Wikipedia

  • lentil — /len til, tl/, n. 1. a plant, Lens culinaris, of the legume family, having flattened, biconvex seeds used as food. 2. the seed itself. [1200 50; ME < OF lentille < VL *lenticula for L lenticula. See LENTICLE] * * * Small annual legume (Lens… …   Universalium

  • lentil — UK [ˈlentɪl] / US [ˈlent(ə)l] noun [countable] Word forms lentil : singular lentil plural lentils a round flat seed that you boil before you eat it. You normally buy lentils in dried form …   English dictionary

  • lentil — noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French lentille, from Latin lenticula, diminutive of lent , lens Date: 13th century 1. a widely cultivated Eurasian annual leguminous plant (Lens culinaris) with flattened edible seeds and leafy stalks… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • lentil — [[t]le̱ntɪl[/t]] lentils N COUNT: usu pl Lentils are the seeds of a lentil plant. They can be dried and used to make soups and stews …   English dictionary

  • lentil — len·til || lentl n. plant belonging to the legume family; round flattened seed produced by the lentil plant and used for food …   English contemporary dictionary

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