Evidence #88 | September 19, 2020

Blessing Food

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Scripture Central


In agreement with the Law of Moses and also with ancient Jewish custom, the Book of Mormon depicts several individuals offering blessings and giving thanks after being physically or spiritually filled.

Many Latter-day Saints and other modern Christians are accustomed to offering a blessing of thanks before eating meals. According to Angela M. Crowell and John A. Tvedtnes, this “practice of saying grace before meals probably owes its origin to the blessing Jesus offered at the last supper” (see Mathew 26:26).1

In contrast, “while a brief blessing is recited before eating” in Judaism, “a series of longer blessings, the birkat ha-mazon, follows the meal.”2 This emphasis on giving thanks after eating can be found in several ancient Jewish documents3 and is most likely derived from Deuteronomy 8:10: “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.” In agreement with this passage from Deuteronomy and with ancient Jewish tradition, the Book of Mormon depicts several instances of blessings being offered after individuals or groups were physically or spiritually filled.

Alma eating at Amulek's home. Illustration by Jody Livingston.

When Amulek hosted Alma at his home, “he brought forth bread and meat and set before Alma. And it came to pass that Alma ate bread and was filled; and he blessed Amulek and his house, and he gave thanks unto God” (Alma 8:21–22). While Alma’s blessing was given to “Amulek and his house” (rather than to the Lord), it was clearly given after Alma had eaten and was “filled,” just as prescribed in Deuteronomy 8:10. Moreover, the passage does mention that Alma “gave thanks unto God.” This is also in keeping with Deuteronomy 8:10, where the blessing toward God should apparently be given as a thankful response “for the good land which he hath given thee.”4 

In His ministry among the Nephites, Jesus blessed the people after they were “filled” from partaking of sacramental bread and wine (3 Nephi 18:9–10). On another occasion, Jesus’ disciples were “filled with desire” and he “blessed them as they did pray unto him” (3 Nephi 19:24–25). Although it is Jesus blessing the people rather than the people blessing the Lord in these examples, it may nevertheless be significant that, in both examples, blessings follow the condition of being physically or spiritually filled.

A final example of a sacramental blessing from 3 Nephi is in even closer compliance with Deuteronomy 8:10: “Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit; and they did cry out with one voice, and gave glory to Jesus” (3 Nephi 20:9). This instance is notable because it depicts people being filled both physically and spiritually before they blessed (i.e. “gave glory” to) the Lord.

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci, Image via Wikipedia.

Interestingly, a very early Christian text known as the Didache prescribes a prayer of thanks in which glory is likewise to be pronounced upon the Lord after partaking of the eucharist (sacrament):  “And after being filled by the meal, eucharistize thus: We give you thanks, holy Father, for your holy name, which you tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you revealed to us through your servant Jesus. To you is the glory forever.”5  Hugh Nibley has drawn attention to a Coptic text which portrays the same idea: “His blessing fell upon [shope] the bread in the apostles’ hands. And all the people ate and were filled. They gave praise to God.”6  

Crowell and Tvedtness concluded,

Blessing God after eating one’s fill is another illustration from the Book of Mormon that the Nephites did, indeed, follow the law of Moses. … The value of all this information as evidence for the Book of Mormon is increased by the fact that the practice is mentioned only in passing, as one would expect for an authentic record that takes such things for granted.7 

Book of Mormon Central, “Why Did Alma Bless and Thank God After Eating? (Alma 8:22),” KnoWhy 115 (June 6, 2016).

Angela M. Crowell and John A. Tvedtnes, “Notes and Communications—The Nephite and Jewish Practice of Blessing God after Eating One’s Fill,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 6, no. 2 (1997): 251–254; republished as “Blessing God after Eating One’s Fill,” in Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon: The FARMS Updates of the 1990s, ed. John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1999), 142–146.

John W. Welch, “From Presence to Practice: Jesus, the Sacrament Prayers, the Priesthood, and Church Discipline in 3 Nephi 18 and Moroni 2–6,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 5, no. 1 (1996): 134.

Alma 8:21–22 3 Nephi 18:9–10 3 Nephi 19:24–25 3 Nephi 20:9

Alma 8:21–22

3 Nephi 18:9–10

3 Nephi 19:24–25

3 Nephi 20:9

Customs and Ceremonies
Blessing Food
Book of Mormon

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