XXmilk (chalabh; gala; Latin lac (2 Esdras 2:19; 8:10)): The fluid secreted by the mammary glands of female mammals for the nourishment of their young. The word is used in the Bible of that of human beings (Isa 28:9) as well as of that of the lower animals (Ex 23:19). As a food it ranked next in importance to bread (Ecclesiasticus 39:26). Israel is frequently described as a land "flowing with milk and honey" (Ex 3:8,17; Nu 13:27; Dt 6:3; Josh 5:6; Jer 11:5; Ezek 20:6,15). Milk was among the first things set before the weary traveler (Gen 18:8). In fact, it was considered a luxury (Jdg 5:25; Song 5:1). The people used the milk of kine and also that of sheep (Dt 32:14), and especially that of goats (Prov 27:27). It was received in pails (atinim, Job 21:24), and kept in leather bottles (nodh, Jdg 4:19), where it turned sour quickly in the warm climate of Israel before being poured out thickly like a melting substance (nathakh; compare Job 10:10). Cheese of various kinds was made from it (gebhinah and charitse he-chalabh, literally, "cuts of milk"); or the curds (chemah) were eaten with bread, and possibly also made into butter by churning (Prov 30:33). See FOOD, II. It is possible that milk was used for seething other substances; at least the Israelites were strictly forbidden to seethe a kid in its mothers milk (Ex 23:19; 34:26; Dt 14:21), and by a very general interpretation of these passages Jews have come to abstain from the use of mixtures of meat and milk of all kinds.
Figuratively the word is used (1) of abundance (Gen 49:12); (2) of a loved ones charms (Song 4:11); (3) of blessings (Isa 55:1; Joel 3:18); (4) of the (spiritual) food of immature people (1 Cor 3:2; Heb 5:12,13); (5) of purity (1 Pet 2:2).
Nathan Isaacs