Bible Dictionary

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(Literally bread of the face or presence bread.) The name given to 12 unleavened cakes placed in two piles on the Table of Shewbread, which was made of acacia wood and stood on the north side of the altar of incense in the holy place (Ex. 25:23–30). Frankincense was put upon each row (Lev. 24:7). The shewbread was changed every Sabbath day and the old loaves were eaten by the priests in a holy place (Lev. 24:9). In the shewbread the 12 tribes were perpetually presented before God; yet it was wholly consumed by man; thus it provided both a sacrifice and a communion. On one occasion the shewbread was given to David to eat (1 Sam. 21:6); the Lord drew from this incident the lesson that the law of charity overrides every ritual law (Matt. 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4).