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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Another look at Sarah's three measures of flour

Traffic has been pretty steady lately to this post on Sarah's gigantic tortilla recipe. I already updated it several times, so it's time for a new post on the topic.

Why, one may ask, would Sarah make up such a huge batch of pita bread? Well, it's time to take a new look at the scene in Genesis 18. And please, forget every movie clip you've seen of it, which probably had no more than five actors, including all the extras.

Abraham was a chieftain with a considerable retinue. Note that he had a young man butcher the calf that he selected; he did not leave his visitors hanging for hours whilst he prepared their meal. Neither, are we to suppose, that Sarah ground the three measures of flour herself. She remained in the tent not because her help was needed to make the tortillas, but because women didn't insert themselves into a conversation between men. That she listened in all the same indicates that she wasn't bent over a loudly grinding set of millstones, but rather had her ear pressed to the side of the tent, where her laughter could be heard.

So, given the number of staff that was necessary even to prepare the meal, it makes sense that a large amount would be prepared--way more than Abraham's three guests could consume--with the remainder, once the choicest cuts were shared with the guests, made available to the staff. Three measures of flour would make no more tortillas than a retinue the size of Abraham's could be expected to consume.

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