Beer / Bible / Exodus / Passover

“…the Israelites departed from Egypt, a country where this bread-beer was the only obtainable or national alcoholic luxury, to the land flowing with milk, honey, and wine…”

…the Israelites departed from Egypt, a country where this bread-beer was the only obtainable or national alcoholic luxury, to the land flowing with milk, honey, and wine: instead of poverty-stricken slaves, they became a free people. In their wealth and luxuriance, they would relinquish the beer of captivity for the wine of luxury. This horrible-tasting Boosa was described by the Times correspondent during the late Egyptian campaign as “a native beer, which the troops would not drink, although they were longing for beer.” The Palestine Jews would have abandoned it in favour of wine, the natural growth of the country, much in the same manner as the town Arabs of the present day in Egypt, who are more wealthy than formerly, abandon Boosa in favour of lager beer.

Now this unknown word machmetzeth only occurs in Exodus xii.; never again. Nor is it now used in the Hebrew language. It is almost a forgotten word. Certainly its meaning is lost to translation. If the Passover account in Exodus was transmitted down verbally for 1,000 years, abstention from wine (which is a slightly leavening matter) during the Passover, in a wine-drinking country, would have crept into the Biblical version; the beer would have been forgotten, in the same manner as the meaning of the name has been forgotten.

James Death, The Beer of the Bible: One of the Hitherto Unknown Leavens of Exodus (London: Trübner & Co., 1887), 58.