I. History. — The antiquity of agriculture is indicated in the brief history of Cain and Abel, when it tells us that the former was a "tiller of the ground," and brought some of the fruits of his labor as an offering to God (Ge 4:2-3), and that part of the ultimate curse upon him was, "When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield to thee her strength" (Ge 4:12). Of the actual state of agriculture before the Deluge we know nothing. SEE ANTEDILUVIANS. Whatever knowledge was possessed by the Old World was doubtless transmitted to the New by Noah and his sons; and that this knowledge was considerable is implied in the fact that one of the operations of Noah, when he "began to be a husbandman," was to plant a vineyard, and to make wine with the fruit (Ge 9:2). There are few agricultural notices belonging to the patriarchal period, but they suffice to show that the land of Canaan was in a state of cultivation, and that the inhabitants possessed what were at a later date the principal products of the soil in the same country. It is reasonable, therefore, to conclude that the modes of operation were then similar to those which we afterward find among the Jews in the same country, and concerning which our information is more exact. SEE ARABIA.
Agriculture was little cared for by the patriarchs; more so, however, by Isaac and Jacob than by Abraham (Ge 26:12; Ge 37:7), in whose time probably, if we except the lower Jordan valley (Ge 13:10), there was little regular culture in Canaan. Thus Gerar and Shechem seem to have been cities where pastoral wealth predominated. The herdmen strove with Isaac about his wells; about his crop there was no contention (Ge 10:14; Ge 34:28). In Joshua's time, as shown by the story of the "Eshcol" (Nu 13:23-24), Canaan was found in a much more advanced agricultural state than when Jacob had left it (De 8:8), resulting probably from the severe experience of famines, and the example of Egypt, to which its people were thus led. The pastoral life was the means of keeping the sacred race, while yet a family, distinct from mixture and locally unattached, especially while in Egypt. When, grown into a nation, they conquered their future seats, agriculture supplied a similar check on the foreign intercourse and speedy demoralization, especially as regards idolatry, which commerce would have caused. Thus agriculture became the basis of the Mosaic commonwealth (Michaelis, 37-41). It tended to check also the freebooting and nomad life, and made a numerous offspring profitable, as it was already honorable by natural sentiment and by law. Thus, too, it indirectly discouraged slavery, or, where it existed, made the slave somewhat like a son, though it made the son also somewhat of a slave. Taken in connection with the inalienable character of inheritances, it gave each man and each family a stake in the soil, and nurtured a hardy patriotism. "The land is Mine" (Le 25:23) was a dictum which made agriculture likewise the basis of the theocratic relation. Thus every family felt its own life with intense keenness, and had its divine tenure which it was to guard from alienation. The prohibition of culture in the sabbatical year formed, under this aspect, a kind of rent reserved by the Divine Owner. Landmarks were deemed sacred (De 19:14), and the inalienability of the heritage was insured by its reversion to the owner in the year of jubilee; so that only so many years of occupancy could be sold (Le 25:8-16,23-35). The prophet Isaiah (Isa 5:8) denounces the contempt of such restrictions by wealthy grandees who sought to "add field to field," erasing families and depopulating districts. SEE LAND.
In giving to the Israelites possession of a country already under cultivation, it was the Divine intention that they should keep up that cultivation, and become themselves an agricultural people; and in doing this they doubtless adopted the practices of agriculture which they found already established in the country. This may have been the more necessary, as agriculture is a practical art; and those of the Hebrew who were acquainted with the practices of Egyptian husbandry had died in the wilderness; and even had they lived, the processes proper to a hot climate and alluvial soil, watered by river inundation, like that of Egypt, although the same in essential forms, could not have been altogether applicable to so different a country as Palestine. SEE EGYPT.
II. Weather, etc. — As the nature of the seasons lies at the root of all agricultural operations, it should be noticed that the variations of sunshine and rain, which with us extend throughout the year, are in Palestine confined chiefly to the latter part of autumn and the winter. During all the rest of the year the sky is almost uninterruptedly cloudless, and rain very rarely falls. The autumnal rains usually commence at the latter end of October or beginning of November, not suddenly, but by degrees, which gives opportunity to the husbandman to sow his wheat and barley. The rains continue during November and December, but afterward they occur at longer intervals, and rain is rare after March, and almost never occurs as late as May. The cold of winter is not severe; and as the ground is never frozen, the labors of the husbandman are not entirely interrupted. Snow falls in different parts of the country, but never lies long on the ground. In the plains and valleys the heat of summer is oppressive, but not in the more elevated tracts. In these high grounds the nights are cool, often with heavy dew. The total absence of rain in summer soon destroys the verdure of the fields, and gives to the general landscape, even in the high country, an aspect of drought and barrenness. No green thing remains but the foliage of the scattered fruit-trees, and occasional vineyards and fields of millet. In autumn the whole land becomes dry and parched, the cisterns are nearly empty, and all nature, animate and inanimate, looks forward with longing for the return of the rainy season. In the hill-country the time of harvest is later than in the plains of the Jordan and of the seacoast. The barley harvest is about a fortnight earlier than that of wheat. In the plain of the Jordan the wheat harvest is early in May; in the plains of the coast and of Esdraelon, it is toward the latter end of that month, and in the hills not until June. The general vintage is in September, but the first grapes ripen in July; and from that time the towns are well supplied with this fruit. — Robinson, Biblical Researches, 2, 96-100. See PALESTINE.
The Jewish calendar (q.v.), as fixed by the three great festivals, turned on the seasons of green, ripe, and fully-gathered produce. Hence, if the season was backward, or, owing to the imperfections of a non-astronomical reckoning, seemed to be so, a month was intercalated. This rude system was fondly retained long after mental progress and foreign intercourse placed a correct calendar within their power; so that notice of a Veadar, i.e., second or intercalated Adar, on account of the lambs being not yet of a paschal size, and the barley not forward enough for the Abib (green sheaf), was sent to the Jews of Babylon and Egypt (Ugol. de Re Rust. verse 22) early in the season. SEE TIME. The year, ordinarily consisting of twelve months, was divided into six agricultural periods, as follows (Mishna, Tosaphta Taanith, ch. 1):
(1.) SOWING TIME. Tisri, latter half beginning about autumnal equinox. Early rain due. Marchesvan......................... Early rain due Fasleu, former half ................ Early rain due
Kisleu, latter half. Tebeth. Sebat, former half. (2.) UNRIPE TIME
(3.) COLD SEASON.
Sebat, latter half ................... Latter rain due Adar ............ ............, Latter rain due. [Veadar]……. Latter rain due Nisan, former half ................. Latter rain due
(4.) HARVEST TIME.
Nisan, latter half ..................( Beginning about vernal equinox. Barley green. Passover.)
Ijar. .......... Wheat ripe....... Pentecost Sivan, former half .......... Wheat ripe....... Pentecost.
Sivan, latter half. Tammuz. Ab, former half. (5.) SUMMER.
Ab, latter half. I lul. (6.) SULTRY SEASON. Tisri, former half. ................... Ingathering of fruits.
Thus the six months from mid Tisri to mid Nisan were mainly occupied with the process of cultivation, and the rest with the gathering of the fruits. Rain was commonly expected soon after the autumnal equinox, or mid Tisri; and if by the first of Kisleu none had fallen, a fast was proclaimed (Mishna, Taanith, ch. 1).
The common Scriptural expressions of the "early" and the "latter rain" (De 11:14; Jer 5:24; Ho 6:3; Zec 10:1; Jas 5:7) are scarcely confirmed by modern experience; the season of rains being unbroken (Robinson, 1, 41, 429; 3, 96); though perhaps the fall is more strongly marked at the beginning and the end of it. The consternation caused by the failure of the former rain is depicted in Joe 1; Joe 2; and this prophet seems to promise that and the latter rain together "in the first month," i. c. Nisan (2, 23). SEE RAIN.
Its plenty of water from natural sources made Canaan a contrast to rainless Egypt (De 8:7; De 11:8-12). Nor was the peculiar Egyptian method of horticulture alluded to in De 11:10 unknown, though less prevalent in Palestine. That peculiarity seems to have consisted in making in the fields square shallow beds, like our salt-pans, surrounded by a raised border of earth to keep in the water, which was then turned from one square to another by pushing aside the mud, to open one and close the next, with the foot. Robinson, however, describes a different process, to which he thinks this passage refers (Res. 1, 542; 2, 351; 3, 21), as still in use likewise in Palestine. There irrigation (including under the term all appliances for making the water available) was as essential as drainage in our region; and for this the large extent of rocky surface, easily excavated for cisterns and ducts, was most useful. Even the plain of Jericho is watered not by canals from the Jordan, since the river lies below the land, but by rills converging from the mountains. In these features of the country lay its expansive resources to meet the wants of a multiplying population. The lightness of agricultural labor in the plains set free an abundance of hands for the task of terracing and watering, and the result gave the highest stimulus to industry. SEE IRRIGATION.
III. Soil, etc. — The Israelites probably found in Canaan a fair proportion of woodland, which their necessities, owing to the discouragement of commerce, must have led them to reduce (Jos 17:18). But even in early times timber seems to have been far less used for building material than among Western nations; the Israelites were not skillful hewers, and imported both the timber and the workmen (1Ki 5:6,8). No store of wood-fuel seems to have been kept; ovens were heated with such things as dung and hay (Eze 4:12,15; Mal 4:6); and, in any case of sacrifice on an emergency, some, as we should think, unusual source of supply is constantly mentioned for the wood (1Sa 6:14; 2Sa 24:22; 1Ki 19:21; comp. Ge 22:3,6-7). All this indicates a nonabundance of timber, and implies that nearly all the arable soil was under culture, or, at least, used for pasturage. SEE FOREST.
The geological characters of the soil in Palestine have never been satisfactorily stated; but the different epithets of description which travelers employ, enable us to know that it differs considerably, both in its appearance and character, in different parts of the land; but wherever soil of any kind exists, even to a very slight depth, it is found to be highly fertile. As parts of Palestine are hilly, and as hills have seldom much depth of soil, the mode of cultivating them in terraces was anciently, and is now much employed. A series of low stone walls, one above another, across the face of the hill, arrest the soil brought down by the rains, and afford a series of levels for the operations of the husbandman. This mode of cultivation is usual in Lebanon, and is not unfrequent in Palestine, where the remains of terraces across the hills, in various parts of the country, attest the extent to which it was anciently carried. This terrace cultivation has necessarily increased or declined with the population. If the people were so few that the valleys afforded sufficient food for them, the more difficult culture of the hills was neglected; but when the population was too large for the valleys to satisfy with bread, then the hills were laid under cultivation. SEE VINEYARD.
In such a climate as that of Palestine, water is the great fertilizing agent. The rains of autumn and winter, and the dews of spring, suffice for the ordinary objects of agriculture; but the ancient inhabitants were able, in some parts, to avert even the aridity which the summer droughts occasioned, and to keep up a garden-like verdure, by means of aqueducts communicating with the brooks and rivers (Ps 1:3; Ps 65:10; Pr 21:1; Isa 30:25; Isa 32:2,20; Ho 12:11). Hence springs, fountains, and rivulets were as much esteemed by husbandmen as by shepherds (Jos 15:19; Jg 1:15). The soil was also cleared of stones, and carefully cultivated; and its fertility was increased by the ashes to which the dry stubble and herbage were occasionally reduced by being burned over the surface of the ground (Pr 24:31; Isa 7:23; Isa 32:13). Dung and, in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, the blood of animals were also used to enrich the soil (2Ki 9:37; Ps 83:10; Isa 25:10; Jer 9:22; Lu 14:34-35). A rabbi limits the quantity to three heaps of ten half-cors, or about 380 gallons, to each seah (q.v.) of grain, and wishes the quantity in each heap, rather than their number, to be increased if the field be large (Mishna, Shebiith, 3, 2). Nor was the great usefulness of sheep to the soil unrecognised (ib. 4), though, owing to the general distinctness of the pastoral life, there was less scope for it. SEE MANURE.
That the soil might not be exhausted, it was ordered that every seventh year should be a sabbath of rest to the land: there was then to be no sowing or reaping, no pruning of vines or olives, no vintage or gathering of fruits; and whatever grew of itself was to be left to the poor, the stranger, and the beasts of the field (Le 25:1-7; De 15:1-10). But such an observance required more faith than the Israelites were prepared to exercise. It was for a long time utterly neglected (Le 26:34-35; 2Ch 36:21), but after the captivity it was more observed. By this remarkable institution the Hebrew were also trained to habits of economy and foresight, and invited to exercise a large degree of trust in the bountiful providence of their Divine King. SEE SABBATICAL YEAR.
A change in the climate of Palestine, caused by increase of population and the clearance of trees, must have taken place before the period of the N.T. A further change, caused by the decrease of skilled agricultural labor, e.g. in irrigation and terrace-making, has since ensued. Not only this, but the great variety of elevation and local character in so small a compass of country necessitates a partial and guarded application of general remarks (Robinson, 1, 507, 553, 554; 3, 595; Stanley, Palestine, p. 118-126). Yet wherever industry is secure, the soil still asserts its old fertility. The Hauran (Peraea) is as fertile as Damascus, and its bread enjoys the highest reputation. The black and fat, but light soil about Gaza, is said to hold so much moisture as to be very fertile with little rain. Here, as in the neighborhood of Beyrut, is a vast olive-ground, and the very sand of the shore is said to be fertile if watered. SEE WATER.
IV. Crops and Fields. — Under the term דָּגָן, dagan', which we translate "grain" and "corn," the Hebrew comprehended almost every object of field culture. Syria, including Palestine, was regarded by the ancients as one of the first countries for corn (Pliny, Hist. Nat. 18, 7). Wheat was abundant and excellent; and there is still one bearded sort, the ear of which is three times as heavy, and contains twice as many grains as our common English wheat (Irby and Mangles, p. 472). Barley was also much cultivated; not only for bread, but because it was the only kind of corn which was given to beasts; for oats and rye do not grow in warm climates. Hay was not in use; and therefore the barley was mixed with chopped straw to form the food of cattle (Ge 24:25,32; Jg 19:19, etc.). Other kinds of field culture were millet, spelt, various species of beans and peas, pepperwort, cummin, cucumbers, melons, flax, and perhaps cotton. Many other articles might be mentioned as being now cultivated in Palestine; but, as their names do not occur in Scripture, it is difficult to know whether they were grown there in ancient times or not. The cereal crops of constant mention are wheat and barley, and more rarely rye and millet (?). Of the two former, together with the vine, olive, and fig, the use of irrigation, the plough and the harrow, mention is found in the book of Job (Job 31:40; Job 15:33; Job 24:6; Job 29:9; Job 39:10). Two kinds of cummin (the black variety called "fitches," Isa 28:27), and such podded plants as beans and lentiles, may be named among the staple produce. To these, later writers add a great variety of garden plants, e.g. kidney-beans, peas, lettuce, endive, leek, garlic, onion, melon, cucumber, cabbage, etc. (Mishna, Kilaim, 1, 2). The produce which formed Jacob's present was of such kinds as would keep, and had kept during the famine (Ge 43:11). The ancient Hebrew had little notion of green or root crops grown for fodder, nor was the long summer drought suitable for them. Barley supplied food both to man and beast, and the plant called in Eze 4:9 "millet," דֹּחִן, dochan' (the holcus dochna of Linn. according to Gesenius, Heb. Lex. s.v.), was grazed while green, and its ripe grain made into bread. In the later period of more advanced irrigation the תַּלתָּן, tiltan', "fenugreek" (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 2601), occurs (Mishna, Maaseroth, 1), also the שִׁחִת, shach'ath, a clover, apparently, given cut (Mishna, Peah, 5, 5). Mowing (גֵּז, gez, Am 6; Am 1; Ps 72:6) and haymaking were familiar processes, but the latter had no express word; חָצַיר, chatsir', standing both for grass and hay, a token of a hot climate, where the grass may become hay as it stands. The yield of the land, besides fruit from trees, was technically distinguished as תּבוּאָה, tebuah', produce, including apparently all cereal plants, קַטנַיּוֹת, kitniyoth', pod-fruits (nearly equivalent to the Latin legumen), and זִרעוּנֵי גַּינָּא, zaruney' ginna', garden seeds (Buxtorf, ib. col. 693), while the simple word seeds (זִרעוּנַין, zarunin') was used also generically for all seed, including all else which was liable to tithe, for which purpose the distinction seems to have existed. (See Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 17 sq.). SEE BOTANY.
The rotation of crops, familiar to the Egyptians (Wilkinson, 2, p. 4), can hardly have been unknown to the Hebrew. Sowing a field with divers seeds was forbidden (De 22:9), and minute directions are given by the rabbis for arranging a seeded surface with great variety, yet avoiding the juxtaposition of heterogenea. Some of these arrangements are shown in the annexed drawings (from Surenhusius's Mischna, 1, 120). Three furrows' interval was the prescribed margin (Kilaim, 2, 6). The blank spaces represent such margins, often tapering to save ground. In a vineyard wide spaces were often left between the vines, for whose roots a radius of four cubits was allowed, and the rest of the space cropped; so herb-gardens stood in the midst of vineyards (Peah, 5, 5). Similar arrangements were observed in the case of a field of grain with olives about and amidst it.
Anciently, as now, in Palestine and the East the arable lands were not divided into fields by fences, as in most countries. The ripening products therefore presented an expanse of culture unbroken, although perhaps variegated, in a large view, by the difference of the products grown. The boundaries of lands were therefore marked by stones as landmarks, which, even in patriarchal times, it was deemed a heinous wrong to remove (Job 24:2); and the law pronounced a curse upon those who, without authority, disturbed them (De 19:14; De 27:17). The walls and hedges which are occasionally mentioned in Scripture belonged to orchards, gardens, and vineyards. SEE GARDEN. Fields and floors were not commonly enclosed; vineyards mostly were, with a tower and other buildings (Nu 22:24; Ps 80:13; Isa 5:5; Mt 21:33; comp. Jg 6:11). Banks of mud from ditches were also used. SEE WALL.
With regard to occupancy, a tenant might pay a fixed moneyed rent (Song 8:11) — in which case he was called שׂוֹכֵר, soker^,
a mercenary, and was compellable to keep the ground in good order — or a stipulated share of the fruits (2Sa 9:10; Mt 21:34), often a half or a third; but local custom was the only rule; in this case he was called מקִבֵּל, mekabbel', lessee, and was more protected, the owner sharing the loss of a short or spoiled crop; so, in case of locusts, blight, etc., the year's rent was to be abated; or he might receive such share as a salary — an inferior position —when the term which described him was חוֹכֵר, choker', manager on shares (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 1955). It was forbidden to sow flax during a short occupancy (hence leases for terms of years would seem to have been common), lest the soil should be unduly exhausted (comp. Virgil, Georg. 1, 77). A passer-by might eat any quantity of corn or grapes, but not reap or carry off fruit (De 23:24-25; Mt 12:1).
The rights of the corner (q.v.) to be left, and of gleaning (q.v.), formed the poor man's claim on the soil for support. For his benefit, too, a sheaf forgotten in carrying to the floor was to be left; so, also, with regard to the vineyard and the olive-grove (Le 19:9-10; De 24:19). Besides, there seems a probability that every third year a second tithe, besides the priests', was paid for the poor (De 14:28; De 26:12; Am 4:4; Tobit 1:7; Joseph. Ant. 4, 8, 22). On this doubtful point of the poor man's tithe (מִעֲשִׂר עָנַי, maasar' ani' see a learned note by Surenhusius, ad Peah, 8, 2. SEE TITHE. These rights, in case two poor men were partners in occupancy, might be conveyed by each to the other for half the field, and thus retained between them (Maimon. ad Peah, 5, 5). Sometimes a charitable owner declared his ground common, when its fruits, as those of the sabbatical year, went to the poor. For three years the fruit of newly-planted trees was deemed uncircumcised and forbidden; in the fourth it was holy, as first-fruits; in the fifth it might be ordinarily eaten (Mishna, Orlah, passim). SEE POOR.
V. Agricultural Operations and Implements.—Of late years much light has been thrown upon the agricultural operations and implements of ancient times, by the discovery of various representations on the sculptured monuments and painted tombs of Egypt, and (to some degree) of Assyria. As these agree surprisingly with the notices in the Bible, and, indeed, differ little from what we still find employed in Syria and Egypt, it is very safe to receive them as guides on the present subject (see also Corse's Assyria, p. 560).
1. Ploughing has always been a light and superficial operation in the East. At first, the ground was opened with pointed sticks; then a kind of hoe was employed; and this, in many parts of the world, is still used as a substitute for the plough. But the plough was known in Egypt and Syria before the Hebrew became cultivators (Job 1:14). At first it was little more than a stout branch of a tree, from which projected another limb, shortened and pointed. This, being turned into the ground, made the furrow; while at the farther end of the larger branch was fastened a transverse yoke, to which the oxen were harnessed. Afterward a handle to guide the plough was added. The Syrian plough is, and doubtless was, light enough for a man to carry in his hand (Russell's Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, 1, 73). The plough, probably, was like the Egyptian, and the process of ploughing like that called scarificatio by the Romans ("Syria tenui suico arat," Pliny 18:47), one yoke of oxen mostly sufficing to draw it. Mountains and rough places were hoed (Isa 7:5; Maimon. ad Mishn. 6 2; Robinson, 3, 595, 602- 3). The breaking up of new land was performed, as with the Romans, in "early spring" (vere novo). Such new ground and fallows, the use of which latter was familiar to the Jews (Jer 4:3; Ho 10:12), were cleared of stones and of thorns (Isa 5:2; Gemara Hierosol ad loc.) early in the year, sowing or gathering from "among thorns" being a proverb for slovenly husbandry (Job 5:5; Pr 24:30-31; Robinson, 2, 127). Virgin land was ploughed a second time. The proper words are פָּתִח, patkach', to open, and שָׂדִד, sadad' to level (by cross ploughing, Varro, De Re Rustica, 1, 32); both are distinctively used in Isa 28:24. Land already tilled was ploughed before the rains, that the moisture might the better penetrate (Maimon. ap. Ugol. De lie Rust. 5, 11). Rain, however, or irrigation (Isa 32:20) prepared the soil for the sowing, as may be inferred from the prohibition to irrigate till the gleaning was over, lest the poor should suffer (Peah, 5:3); and such sowing often took place without previous ploughing, the seed, as in the parable of the sower, being scattered broadcast, and ploughed in afterward, the roots of the late crop being so far decayed as to serve for manure (Fellows, Asia Minor, p. 72). Where the soil was heavier, the ploughing was best done dry ("dum sicca tellure licet," Virg. Georg. 1, 214); and there, though not generally, the hoeing (sarritio, עַדּוּר, iddur', dressing), and even the liratio, or ridging, of Roman husbandry, performed with tabulae affixed to the sides of the share, might be useful (see Smith's Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Aratrum). But the more formal routine of heavy western soils must not be made the standard of such a naturally fine tilth as that of Palestine generally (comp. Columella, 2, 12). During the rains, if not too heavy, or between their two periods, would be the best time for these operations; thus 70 days before the passover was the time prescribed for sowing for the "wavesheaf," and, probably, therefore, for that of barley generally. The plough was drawn by oxen, which were sometimes urged by a scourge (Isa 10:26; Na 3:2), but oftener by a long staff, furnished at one end with a flat piece of metal for clearing the plough, and at the other with a spike for goading the oxen. This ox-goad (q.v.) might easily be used as a spear (Jg 3:31; 1Sa 13:21). Sometimes men followed the plough with hoes to break the clods (Isa 28:24); but in later times a kind of harrow was employed, which appears to have been then, as now, merely a thick block of wood, pressed down by a weight, or by a man sitting on it, and drawn over the ploughed field. SEE PLOUGH.
2. Sowing. — The ground, having been ploughed as soon as the autumnal rains had mollified the soil, was fit, by the end of October, to receive the seed; and the sowing of wheat continued, in different situations, through November into December. Barley was not generally sown till January and February. The seed appears to have been sown and harrowed at the same time, although sometimes it was ploughed in by a cross furrow. SEE SOWING.
Occasionally, however, the sowing was by patches only in well-manured spots, a process called מנֵמֵּר, menammer', variegating like a leopard, from its spotted appearance, as represented in the accompanying drawing by Surenhusius (1, 45) to illustrate the Mishna.
3. Ploughing in the Seed. — The Egyptian paintings illustrate the Scriptures by showing that in those soils which needed no previous preparation by the hoe (for breaking the clods) the sower followed the plough, holding in the left hand a basket of seed, which he scattered with the right hand, while another person filled a fresh basket. We also see that the mode of sowing was what we call "broadcast," in which the seed is thrown loosely over the field (Mt 13:3-8). In Egypt, when the levels were low, and the water had continued long upon the land, they often dispensed with the plough altogether; and probably, like the present inhabitants, broke up the ground with hoes, or simply dragged the moist mud with bushes after the seed had been thrown upon the surface. To this cultivation without ploughing Moses probably alludes (De 11:10), when he tells the Hebrew that the land to which they were going was not like the land of Egypt, where they "sowed their seed, and watered it with their foot, as a garden of herbs." It seems, however, that even in Syria, in sandy soils, they sow without ploughing, and then plough down the seed (Russell's N. H. of Aleppo, 1, 73, etc.). It does not appear that any instrument resembling our harrow was known; the word שָׂדִד, sadad', rendered to harrow, in Job 39:10, means literally to break the clods, and is so rendered in Isa 28:24; Ho 10:11; and for this purpose the means used have been already indicated. The passage in Job, however, is important. It shows that this breaking of the clods was not always by the hand, but that some kind of instrument was drawn by an animal over the ploughed field, most probably the rough log which is still in use. SEE HARROW. The readiest way of brushing over the soil is by means of a bundle composed simply of thorn bushes. In highly-irrigated spots the seed was trampled in by cattle (Isa 32:20) as in Egypt by goats (Wilkinson, 1, p. 39, 2d ser.).
4. Harvest. — The custom of watching ripening crops and threshing-floors against theft or damage (Robinson, 1, 490; 2, 18, 83, 99) is probably ancient. Thus Boaz slept on the floor (Ru 3:4,7). Barley ripened a week or two before wheat; and, as fine harvest weather was certain (Pr 26:1; 1Sa 12:17; Am 4:7), the crop chiefly varied with the quantity of timely rain. The period of harvest must always have differed according to elevation, aspect, etc. (Robinson, 1:430, 551).
The proportion of harvest gathered to seed sown was often vast, a hundred-fold is mentioned, but in such a way as to signify, that it was a limit rarely attained (Ge 26:12; Mt 13:8). Among the Israelites, as with all other people, the harvest was a season of joy, and such is more than once alluded to in Scripture (Ps 126:5; Isa 9:13). SEE HARVEST.
5. Reaping. — In the most ancient times the corn was plucked up by the roots, which continued to be the practice with particular kinds of grain after the sickle was known. In Egypt, at this day, barley and "doorra" are pulled up by the roots. The choice between these modes of operation was probably determined, in Palestine, by the consideration pointed out by Russell (N. H. of Aleppo, 1, 74), who states that "wheat, as well as barley in general, does not grow half as high as in Britain; and is therefore, like other grain, not reaped with the sickle, but plucked up by the roots with the hand. In other parts of the country, where the corn grows ranker, the sickle is used." When the sickle was used, the wheat was either cropped off under the ear or cut close to the ground. In the former case, the straw was afterward plucked up for use; in the latter, the stubble was left and burned on the ground for manure. As the Egyptians needed not such manure, and were economical of straw, they generally followed the former method; while the Israelites, whose lands derived benefit from the burned stubble, used the latter, although the practice of cutting off the ears was also known to them (Job 24:24). Cropping the ears short, the Egyptians did not generally bind them into sheaves, but removed them in baskets. Sometimes, however, they bound them into double sheaves; and such as they plucked up were bound into single long sheaves. The Israelites appear generally to have made up their corn into sheaves (Ge 37:7; Le 23:10-15; Ru 2:7,15; Job 24:10; Jer 9:22; Mich. 4:12), which were collected into a heap, or removed in a cart (Am 2:13) to the threshing-floor. The carts were probably similar to those which are still employed for the same purpose. SEE WAGON. The sheaves were never made up into shocks, as with us, although the word occurs in our translation of Jg 15:5; Job 5:26; for the original term signifies neither a shock composed of a few sheaves standing temporarily in the field, nor a stack of many sheaves in the home yard, properly thatched, to stand for a length of time; but a heap of sheaves laid loosely together, in order to be trodden out as quickly as possible, in the same way as is done in the East at the present day (Brown, Antiq. of the Jews, 2, 591). Such heaps were sometimes fancifully arranged in the form of helmets (לקוּבָעוֹת, lekubaoth') or of turbans (לכוּמָסוֹת, lekumasoth') [but see other explanations of these terms in Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 1960, 1051], or of a cake (לחֲרָרָא, lecharara'), as in the following illustration from Surenhusius (Mischna, ut sup.). SEE SHEAF.
With regard to sickles, there appear to have been two kinds, indicated by the different names חֶרמֵשׁ, chermesh', and מִגָּל, maggal'; and as the former occurs only in the Pentateuch (De 16:9; De 23:20), and the latter only in the Prophets (Jer 2:16; Joe 1:17), it would seem that the one was the earlier and the other the later instrument. But as we observe two very different kinds of sickles in use among the Egyptians, not only at the same time, but in the same field, it may have been so with the Jews also. The figures of these Egyptian sickles probably mark the difference between them. One was very much like our common reaping- hook, while the other had more resemblance in its shape to a scythe, and some of the Egyptian examples appear to have been toothed. This last is probably the same as the Hebrew maggal, which is indeed rendered by scythe in the margin of Jer 1:16. SEE SICKLE.
The reapers were the owners and their children, men-servants and women- servants, and day-laborers (Ru 2:4,6,21,23; Joh 4:36; Jas 5:4). Refreshments were provided for them, especially drink, of which the gleaners were allowed to partake (Ru 2:9). So in the Egyptian harvest-scenes (as above depicted), we perceive a provision of water in skins, hung against trees or in jars upon stands, with the reapers drinking, and gleaners applying to share the draught. Among the Israelites, gleaning was one of the stated provisions for the poor; and for their benefit the corners of the field were left unreaped, and the reapers might not return for a forgotten sheaf. The gleaners, however, were to obtain in the first place express permission of the proprietor or his steward (Le 19:9-10;
De 24:19; Ru 2:2,7). SEE REAPING; SEE GLEANING.
6. Threshing. — Formerly the sheaves were conveyed from the field to the threshing-floor in carts; but now they are borne, generally, on the backs of camels and asses. The threshing-floor is a level plot of ground, of a circular shape, generally about fifty feet in diameter, prepared for use by beating down the earth till a hard floor is formed (Jg 6:37). Such floors were probably permanent, and became well-known spots (Ge 1:10-11; 2Sa 24:16,18). Sometimes several of these floors are contiguous to each other. The sheaves are spread out upon them; and the grain is trodden out by oxen, cows, and young cattle, arranged usually five abreast, and driven in a circle, or rather in all directions, over the floor. This was the common mode in the Bible times; and Moses forbade that the oxen thus employed should be muzzled to prevent them from tasting the corn (De 25:4; Isa 28:28). SEE MUZZLE.
Flails, or sticks, were only used in threshing small quantities, or for the lighter kinds of grain (Ru 2:17; Isa 28:27). There were, however, some kinds of threshing instruments, such as are still used in Egypt and Palestine. One of them is composed of two thick planks, fastened together side by side, and bent upward in front. Sharp fragments of stone are fixed into holes bored in the bottom. This machine is drawn over the corn by oxen — a man or boy sometimes sitting on it to increase the weight. It not only separates the grain, but cuts the straw and makes it fit for fodder (2Ki 13:7). This is, most probably, the חָרוּוֹ, charuts', or "corn-drag," which is mentioned in Scripture (Isa 28:27; Isa 41:15; Am 1:3; rendered "threshing instrument"), and would seem to have been sometimes furnished with iron points instead of stones. The Bible also notices a machine called a מוֹרָג, morag' (2Sa 24:22; 1Ch 21:23; Isa 41:15), which is unquestionably the same which bears in Arabic the name of noreg (Wilkinson, 2, 190). It appears to have been similar to the Roman tribulum and the plostellum Punicum (Varr. de R. R. 1, 52). This machine is not now often seen in Palestine; but is more used in some parts of Syria, and is common in Egypt. It is a sort of frame of wood, in which are inserted three wooden rollers armed with iron teeth, etc. It bears a sort of seat or chair, in which the driver sits to give the benefit of his weight. It is generally drawn over the corn by two oxen, and separates the grain, and breaks up the straw even more effectually than the drag. In all these processes, the corn is occasionally turned by a fork, and, when sufficiently threshed, is thrown up by the same fork against the wind to separate the grain, which is then gathered up and winnowed. Barley was sometimes soaked and then parched before treading out, which got rid of the pellicle of the grain. (See further the Antiquitates Trituroe, Ugolini, 29.) SEE THRESHING.
7. Winnowing was generally accomplished by repeating the process of tossing up the grain against the wind with a fork (Jer 4:11-12), by which the broken straw and chaff were dispersed, while the grain fell to the ground. After this it underwent a still further purification, by being tossed up with wooden scoops or short-handed shovels, such as we see in Egyptian paintings (Isa 30:24). SEE WINNOWING.
The "shovel" and "fan" (respectively רִחִת, rach'ath, and מַזרֶה, nizreh', Isa 30:24, but their precise difference is very doubtful) indicate a conspicuous part of ancient husbandry (Ps 35:5; Job 21:18; Isa 17:13), and important, owing to the slovenly threshing. Evening was the favorite time (Ru 3:2), when there was mostly a breeze. The mizreh (scatterer, prob. = πτύον, Mt 3:12; Homer Iliad, 18, 588) was perhaps a broad shovel which threw the grain up against the wind; while the rachath (blower) may have been a fork (still used in Palestine for the same purpose) or a broad basket, in which it was tossed. The heap of produce customarily rendered in rent was sometimes so large as to cover the rachath (Mishna, Baba Metsiath, 9, 2); this favors the latter view; again, the πτύον was a corn-measure in Cyprus (see Liddell and Scott, Lex. s.v. πτύον). The last process was the shaking in a sieve, כּבָרָה, kebarah' (cribrum), to separate dirt and refuse (Am 9:9). SEE FAN; SEE SHOVEL; SEE SIEVE.
VI. For the literature of the subject, SEE HUSBANDRY.