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CHEESE. The translation of three Hebrew words, each of which occurs only once. In Job.10.10, gevînâh, “curd, cheese,” is from a root meaning “coagulate.” In 2Sam.17.29 the word shaphah is more properly translated “cream,” because it is skimmed off. In 1Sam.17.18 hărîtsî hehālāv denotes “cuts of milk”—i.e., cheese. Milk of cows, goats, and sheep was stored in skins. In a warm climate, without refrigeration, it soon curdled. The process used to make cheese can only be guessed from the practices current in the Near East today.

CHEESE (גְּבִינָה, H1482, chese; חֶמְאָה, H2772, curd). The word “cheese” occurs three times (1 Sam 17:18; 2 Sam 17:29; Job 10:10). The second reference has some confusion in the text. “Curdled me like cheese” (KJV), in Job’s speech, is the clearest reference to cheese as the modern world knows it. Homer, in describing the Cyclops’ cave in Odyssey 9, picturing a Mediterranean society roughly contemporaneous with the early Heb. kings, wrote of hanging goatskins of curds, no doubt a stage in the production of cream cheese. Curdled with vegetable juice, the whey was allowed to drain away; the curds were dried and pressed into cakes. Jerusalem’s Tyropoeon Valley was called the “valley of the cheesemakers.” It was doubtless a center of the industry.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


See Food; Milk.