(חַטָּה, chittidh [for, חַנטָה, chinth]; Chald. plur. חַנטַין, chintin; σῖτος), the well-known valuable cereal cultivated from the earliest times, occurs in various passages of Scripture (Heb. Ge 30:14; Ex 9:32; Ex 29:2; Ex 34:22; De 8:8; De 32:14; Jg 6:11; Jg 15:1; Ruth 2, 23; 1Sa 6:13; 1Sa 12:17; 2Sa 4:6; 2Sa 17:28; 1Ki 4:11; 1Ch 21:20,23; 2Ch 2; 2Ch 10; 2Ch 15; 2Ch 27:5; Job 31:40; Ps 81:16; Ps 147:14; Song 7:2; Isa 28:25; Jer 12:13; Jer 41; Jer 8; Eze 4:9; Eze 27:17; Eze 45; Eze 13; Joe 1:11; Chald. Ezr 6:9; Ezr 7:22; Greek Matthew 3:12; 3, 25, 29, 30; Mr 4:28 ["corn"]; Luke 3, 17; 16:7; 22,31; Joh 12:24; Ac 7:12 ["corn"]; 27:38; 1Co 15:37; Re 6:6; Re 18:13; also Judith 3, 3; Ecclus. 39:26). In the A.V. the Heb. words bar (בִּר or בָּר, Jer 23:28; Joel 2, 24; Amos 5, 11; 8:5,6), dagan (דָּגָן, Nu 18:12; Jer 31:12), riphoth (רַיפוֹת, Pr 27:22), are occasionally translated "wheat;" but there is no doubt that the proper name of this cereal, as distinguished from "barley," "spelt," etc., is chittah (חַטָּה; Chald. חַנטַין, chintin). As to the former Hebrew terms, see under CORN. . There can be no doubt that chittalh, by some written chittha, chefteth, cheteh, etc., is correctly translated "wheat," from its close resemblance to the Arabic, as well to the names of wheat in other languages. Celsius says, חטה, chittha, occultato נ in puncto dagesch, pro חנטה, chintha, dicitur ex usu Ebreeorum." This brings it still nearer to the Arabic name of wheat, which in Roman characters is variously written, hinteh, hinthe, henta, and by Pemplius, in his translation of Avicenna, hhintta; and under this name it is described by the Arabic authors on Materia Medica. As the Arabic ha is in many words converted into kha, it is evident that the Hebrew and Arabic names of wheat are the same, especially as the Hebrew ה has the guttural sound. Different derivations have been given of the word chittah by Celsius it is derived from חָנִט, chanaf, protulit, produxit, fructuan, ex Song 2:13; or the Arabic "chanat, rubuit, quod triticum rubello sit colore"(Hierobot. 2, 113). The translator of the Biblical Botany of Rosenmüller justly observes that "the similarity in sound between the Hebrew word chittah and the English wheat is obvious. Be it remembered that the ch here is identical in sound with theGaelic guttural, or the Spanish X. It is further remarkable that the Hebrew term is etynmologically cognate with the words for wheat used by every one of the Teutonic and Scandinavian nations (thus we have in Icelandic, hveiti; Danish, hvede; Swedish, hvete;Maeso-Goth. hvaite; German, Weizen); and that, in this instance, there is no resemblance between the Scandinavian and Teutonic terms, and the Greek, Latin, and Slavonic (for the Greek word is πυρός; the Latin, frumentum or triticum; the Russian, psienitsa; Polish, psenica); and yet the general resemblance between the Slavonic, the Thracian, and the Gothic languages is so strong that no philologist now doubts their identity of origin (loc. cit. p. 75). Rosenmüller further remarks that in Egypt and in Barbary kamich is the usual name for wheat (quoting Descrip. de l'Egypte, 19:45; Host, Account of Maroko and Fez, p. 309); and also that in Hebrew, קֶמִח , kemach, denotes the flour of wheat (Ge 18:6; Nu 5:15). This, it is curious to observe, is not very unlike the Indian name of wheat, kunuk. All these names indicate communication between the nations of antiquity, as well as point to a common origin of wheat. Thus in his Himalayan Botany, Dr. J. F. Boyle has stated: "Wheat, having been one of the earliest- cultivated grains, is most probably of Asiatic origin, as no doubt Asia was the earliest-civilized as well as the first peopled country. It is known to the Arabs under the name of hinteh; to the Persians as qguindum; Hindfi, gahnih and kunuk. The species of barley cultivated in the plains of India, and known by the Hindau and Persian name juo, Arabic shalir, is Iloumd hexaerstichum. As both wheat and barley are cultivated in the plains of India in the winter months, where none of the species of these genera are indigenous, it is probable that both have been introduced into India from the north, that is, from the Persian, and perhaps from the Tartarian region, where these and other species of barley are most successfully and abundantly cultivated" (p. 419). Different species of wheat were no doubt cultivated by the ancients. as Triticum compositum in Egypt, T. cestiuv. nu,
T. hibernum in Syria, etc.; but both barley and wheat are too well known to require further illustration in this place.
Much has been written on the subject of the origin of wheat, and the question appears to be still undecided. It is said that the Triticum vulgare has been found wild in some parts of Persia and Siberia, apparently removed from the influence of cultivation (English Cyclop. s.v. "Triticum"). Again, from the experiments of M. Esprit Fabre of Agde, it would seem that the numerous varieties of cultivated wheat are merely improved transformations of Egilops. ovata (Journal of the Royal Agricult. Soc. No. 33, p. 167-180). M. Fabre's experiments, however, have not been deemed conclusive by some botanists (see an interesting paper by the late Prof. Henfrey in No. 41 of the Journal quoted above). Egypt in ancient times was celebrated for the growth of its wheat. The best quality, according to Pliny (Nat. Hist. 18:7), was grown in the Thebaid; it was all bearded; and the same varieties, Wilkinson writes (Anc. Egypt. [ed. 1854], 2, 39), "existed in ancient as in modern times, among which maybe mentioned the seven-eared quality described in Pharaoh's dream" (Ge 41:22). This is the so-called mummy-wheat, which, it has been said, has germinated after the lapse of thousands of years; but it is now known that the whole thing was a fraud. Babylonia was also noted for the excellence of its wheat and other cereals. "In grain," says Herodotus (1, 193), "it will yield commonly two hundredfold, and at its greatest production as much as three-hundredfold. The blades of the wheat and barley plants are often four fingers broad." But this is a great exaggeration (see also Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. 8:7). Modern writers, as Chesney and Rich, bear testimony to the great fertility of Mesopotamia. Syria and Palestine produced wheat of fine quality and in large quantities (Ps 147:14; Ps 81:16, etc.). There appear to be two or three kinds of wheat at present grown in Palestine the Triticum vulgare (var.hibernum), the T. spelta, SEE RYE, and another variety of bearded wheat which appears to be the same as the Egyptian kind, the 'Teomipoz' situm. In the parable of the sower, our Lord alludes to grains of wheat which in good ground produce a hundredfold (Mt 13:8). "The return of a hundred for one," says Trench, "is not unheard of in the East, though always mentioned as something extraordinary." Laborde says, "There is to be found at Kerek a species of hundred wheat which justifies the text of the Bible against the charges of exaggeration of which it has been the object." The common Triticum vulgare will sometimes produce one hundred grains in the ear.
Wheat is reaped towards the end of April, in. May, and in June, according to the differences of soil and position. It was sown either broadcast, and then ploughed in or trampled in by cattle (Isa 32:20), or in rows, if we rightly understand Isa 28:25, which seems to imply that the seeds were planted apart in order to insure larger and fuller ears. The wheat was put into the ground in the winter, and some time after the barley. In the Egyptian plague of hail, consequently, the barley suffered, but the wheat had not .appeared, and so escaped injury. Wheat was ground into flour. The finest qualities were expressed, by the term "fat of kidneys of wheat" (כַּליוֹת חַטָּה חֵלֶב , De 32:14). Unripe ears are sometimes cut off from the stalks, roasted in an oven, mashed and boiled, and eaten by the modern Egyptians (Sonnini, Travels). Rosenmüller (Botany of the Bible, p. 80), with good reason, conjectures that this dish, which the Arabs callferik, is the same as the geres carnel (כִּרמֶל גֶּרֶשׂ) of Le 2:14 and 2Ki 4:42. The Heb. word kali (קָלַי Le 2:14) denotes, it is probable, roasted ears of corn, still used as food in the East. An "ear of corn" was called shibboleth (שַׁבֹּלֶת), the word which betrayed the Ephraimites (Jg 12:1,6), who were unable to give the sound of sh. The curious expression in Pr 27:22, Though thou shouldst bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him," appears to point to the custom of mixing the grains of inferior cereals with wheat; the meaning will then be, "Let a fool be ever so much in the company of wise men, yet he will continue a fool." Maurer (Comment. loc. cit.) simply explains the passage thus: "Quomodocunque tractaveris stultum non patietur se emendari." SEE CEREALS.
Wheat was known to the Israelites in Egypt (Ex 9:32), and on returning to Canaan they no doubt found 'it still cultivated as in the days of Reuben (Ge 30:14). Most probably they were the same sorts which were used in both countries; but there were only a few districts of Palestine, such as the plain of Jezreel, which could compete with that magnificent "carse," the delta of Egypt, the finest corn country of the ancient world. At present the wheat crops of Palestine "are very poor and light, and would disgust an English farmer. One may ride and walk through the standing corn without the slightest objection made or harm done. No wonder it is thin, when white crops are raised from the same soil year after year, and no sort of manure put into the ground"(Tristram, Travels, p. 591). SEE AGRICULTURE.