(קָצַיר, katsr', i.e. reaping; θερισμός), the season of gathering grain or fruits. In general, this fell, as now in Palestine, in the middle of April or Abib (Joh 4:35), although in many parts, e.g. at Jericho (whose inhabitants were the first to present the first fruits, Mishna, Pesach, 4:8), it began as early as March (Shaw, Tray. p. 291). (See Gerdes, De tempore messis Hebraeorum, Utrecht, 1720.) Dr. Robinson says: "On the 4th and 5th of June, the people of Hebron were just beginning to gather their wheat; on the 11th and 12th, the threshing-floors on the Mount of Olives were in full operation. We had already seen the harvest in the same state of progress on the plains of Gaza on the 19th of May; while at Jericho, on the 12th of May, the threshing-floors had nearly completed their work" (Bib. Res. 2, 99, 100). On the sixteenth day of the first month, Abib or Nisan (Josephus, Ant. 3, 10, 5), a handful of ripe ears was offered before the Lord as the first-fruits; after which it was lawful to put the sickle to the corn (Le 23:9-14). (See Schramm, De manipulo hordeaceo, Frckft. a. O. 1706.) The harvest is described as beginning with the barley, and with the festival of the Passover (Le 23:9-14; 2Sa 21:9-10; Ruth 2, 23), and ending with the wheat (Ge 30:14; Ex 34:22), and with the festival of Pentecost (Ex 23:16).
(See Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 684.) In the most ancient times the corn was plucked up by the roots. 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 afterwards plucked up for use; in the latter, the stubble was left and burnt on the ground for manure (Isa 17:5; Job 24:24). The sheaves were collected into a heap, or removed to the threshing-floor (Ge 37:7; Le 23:10-15; Ru 2:7-15; Job 24:10; Jer 9:22; Mic 4:12; Am 2:13). In Palestine at the present day, the grain is not bound into sheaves, but is gathered into two large bundles, which are carried home on either side of the backs of animals (Thomson, Land and Book, 2, 323). The reapers were the owners and their children, and men and women servants (Ru 2:4,8,21,23; Joh 4:36; Jas 5; Jas 4). Refreshments were provided for them, especially drink, of which the gleaners were often allowed to partake (Ru 2:9); so in the Egyptian scenes we see reapers drinking, and the gleaners applying to share the draught. The time of harvest was a season of very great enjoyment, especially when the crops had been plentiful (Ps 126; Isa 9:3). The harvest in Scripture is likewise put for a time of destruction (Ho 6:11), according to Newcome; but according to Horsley, for a time of mercy. Of the former sense there is an example in Jer 51:33, plainly referring to the judgments of God upon Babylon. So in the oracle concerning Damascus (Isa 17:5), as Lowth observes, the king of Assyria shall sweep away the whole body of the people, as the reaper strips off the whole crop of corn, and the remnant shall be no more in proportion than the scattered ears left to the gleaner. In Joe 3:13, the last words explain the figurative language which precedes: they are ripe for excision. The same comparison is used in Re 14:14; Re 15:8, where the person referred to as executing vengeance is Jesus Christ himself, though angels assist in the execution. But harvest is also used in a good sense, as in Mt 9:37; Lu 10:2; Joh 4:35. So in Jer 8:20, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved;" i.e. the time in which we expected to be saved is past. The harvest, in agricultural reckoning, is considered to be the end of the season, being the time appointed for gathering in the fruits of the earth, and finishing the labors of the year. So, in Mt 13:39, our Lord says, "The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels" In Mt 9:36, our Lord, seeing multitudes coming to hear him, remarks, "The harvest truly is plenteous;" i.e. many are willing to receive instruction. SEE AGRICULTURE.