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Meaning of "Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters"

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Thousands of years ago Solomon said, "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days." When you read that verse, two questions should come to mind.

  1. What did Solomon mean when he made that statement thousands of years ago?
  2. What does that mean for us today?

Cast: Definition

To cast something means to throw it with all your might. It is not the act of gently placing something in a certain place. It is tossing something away from you as hard and as far as you can. For instance, fishermen cast their fishing line in the water as far away from them as possible.

The point is not to hold on to something. Instead, you should release it without knowing where it will land and not knowing where it will go. Besides, you will not be able to dig it up or even see where the bread is after you cast it into the waters.

Your Bread

Solomon specifically said, "your bread" to indicate that what you are casting away belongs to you. It is something that you could keep for yourself, but in this case, the advice is to cast it away. Because bread is the staff of life, it takes faith to cast away "your bread."

Bread is a metaphor for many things, such as grain and seed. In today's vernacular, bread is a slang word for "money." These references indicate that what you are casting away is something useful to the one who is casting it away as well as to the one who receives it.

Never think you do not have enough bread to part with. Notice Solomon did not say how much bread to cast upon the waters. It could be a slice, a biscuit, a small barley loaf, or any size. Cast the bread that you have upon the waters and then forget about it. It is a promise from God that you will find it after many days.

We might think casting bread on the waters is an exercise in futility. We know that literal bread would get soggy and eventually fall apart. Also, before the many days are up, the bread would surely be dissolved or eaten by birds, fish, and other water creatures.

It requires faith to cast your bread upon the waters. Sending your sustenance out on the waters is an indication that you have enough faith to part with something that you could surely use yourself. The good news is that according to the scripture, “you will find it again." However, you don't know how, and surely you don't know when.

Upon the Waters

Solomon made a point of saying "upon the waters" instead of on the ground, in the field, or in the yard. He wanted the reader to know that once the bread is on the waters, it will no longer remain stationary. The waters will push the bread further and further away. In fact, after casting the bread upon the waters, it will not be able to be seen after a few minutes.

Notice the "s" on the word "water." That's because the water in an ocean comes from many other bodies of water. Also, once you cast your bread, it goes into the body of water you are standing by, but with tides and waves, that water could cause the bread to go in different directions and end up in other waters. Once we cast the bread upon the waters, we no longer have control over it. In other words, the Bible admonished us to cast our bread into a sea of uncertainty.

You Will Find It After Many Days

In this particular verse, the words "days" do not mean 24 hours intervals. It could be a metaphor for weeks, months, years, decades, or any long period of time.

The truth of the matter is that you have no control over the bread once it leaves you hands. You can do nothing about where it goes and what storms it might encounter along the way. However, Solomon is confident that you will eventually find it.

We should be generous, and by faith expect a return sometime in the future. The personal pronoun "it" in this part of this scripture does not mean the same bread that you cast out earlier. It means you will see results that are usually greater than the original bread you allowed to depart from you.

Putting the Entire Verse Together

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will see it after many days."

If you put the entire verse together with the explanation of each phrase above, then Ecclesiastes 11:1 means this:

Do something good without expecting anything in return. You will not see immediate results, but you will in due time. Actually, you make a sacrifice to release something for the greater good.


Just as you do not know the path that your bread takes on the waters, you will have no idea where the path your generosity will take. There is one sure thing that you should know and that is you will find the bread after many days. In other words, the generosity you have cast out will return to you in some benefits in the future.

God promised that when you cast your bread upon the waters in the form of goods, services, advice, a helping hand, or money, it will be returned to you after many days when you least expect it.


I have invested four years of my life in getting a master's degree in Christian education and a master's degree in theology. At the end of those four years, I prayed to God to make a way for me to use what I had learned to spread the word of God. God assured me He would make a way for me to share my knowledge with the masses.

That was in 1998. God showed me how to use my undergraduate degree in writing and my two degrees in religion to spread the good news of the saving power of Jesus Christ.

When I write a lesson and cast it into the waters, I have no idea where the message is going because I have no control over it once I hit "send" on my computer. I first cast my bread upon the waters over 24 years ago, and it has returned to me time and time again.

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