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    September 29    Scripture

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    Allowing Neighbors to Eat Grain THE FARMER'S LAW OF HOSPITALITY Eating grain in the field. When the grain in the wheatfield has passed the "milk-stage," and has begun to harden, it is then called "fereek" and is considered to be delicious to eat raw. Natives of the land will pluck the heads, and then rub them in their hand and eat them. For centuries the unwritten law of hospitality has been that wayfarers may eat of the wheat as they pass by or through a field, but they must not carry any away with them.29 The law of GOD allowed this same privilege. "When thou comest unto the standing corn (i.e. grain) of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor's standing corn" (Deuteronomy 23:25). When the Pharisees criticized the disciples, it was not for eating wheat as they passed through a wheat field, but rather for doing it on the sabbath day (Luke 6:1,2). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Biblical Description of a Vineyard Care of Vineyards THE DESCRIPTION OF A VINEYARD BY ISAIAH AND BY JESUS IN ISAIAH'S PARABLE of the Vineyard, and in CHRIST's Parable of the Wicked Husbandman, taken together, we get an accurate picture of an Oriental vineyard. Isaiah wrote: "My well beloved had a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein" (Isaiah 5:1, 2). JESUS spoke thus: "There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen" (Matthew 21:33). These two accounts list eight interesting facts that are true of many vineyards in Bible lands. They are often located on a hillside, they usually have a hedge or fence around them, the soil is cultivated by hoeing or spading, large stones are gathered out of the ground, choice vines are planted, a watch-tower is built, a winepress is constructed, and sometimes vineyards are rented. These points suggest the main features that need to be noticed in a study of the Oriental vineyard. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Binding Sheaves Binding the grain into sheaves. The cut grain is gathered on the arms and bound into sheaves. The Psalmist makes a reference to the mower filling his hand, and the binder of sheaves filling his bosom (Psalm 129:7). And the Song of Solomon speaks of an heap of wheat (Song of Solomon 7:2), and Joseph in his dream saw "binding sheaves in the field" (Genesis 37:7). Thus the cut grain was gathered in the arms and bound into sheaves. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Birds ENEMIES OF THE GRAIN Birds. The birds of the air are foes of the grain. In the East, large flocks of birds often follow the farmer as he sows his seed in order to snatch up, if they can, what he has scattered. Some of the grain is therefore lost before the plough can succeed in covering it up. That which chances to fall on the path would readily be devoured by them (Mark 4:4). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Caring for the Vineyard Parable of the sluggard. A good indication of the care required in growing a vineyard may be derived by looking at this parable as given in the book of Proverbs. "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down" (Proverbs 24:30, 31). The sluggard failed to keep his vineyard-wall in repair, and he failed to keep his growing vines free of thorns and weeds. These two activities are absolutely necessary. As in the case of raising a crop of grain, the native farmer does not usually fertilize the ground of his vineyard. Liming of the ground is dependent upon the many small and soft limestones so often present in Israel. Some of the lime in the stones is dissolved with each rainstorm, and mixing with the soil helps it in the growth of the grapes. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Children of the East Practice in Old Testament days. In the book of Judges, bands of desert people called "the Children of the East," were a constant menace to the Israelites. When these pastoral encampments neared the borders of agriculture, a raid would be planned against the harvest of Israel, or any of their flocks, herds, or other valuable goods. Scripture says of these people: "And so it was, when Israel had sown, that . . . the children of the east, even they came up against them; and they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth . . . and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass" (Judges 6:3, 4). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Early and Latter Rains The Israel grainfields are largely dependent upon the rain that falls, for their fruitfulness. No rain falls in the land from May to September. The former rain, spoken of in scripture, falls in the latter part of October or the first part of November usually. It is this rain that is the signal for the farmer to begin his ploughing and plant his seed. The Bible also speaks of the latter rain, which ordinarily falls in March and April, and it is this rain that is of so much value in maturing the barley and the wheat crops. The heavy winds come the latter part of December and during January and February. The prophecy of Joel mentions all three of these kinds of rain: "And he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month" (Joel 2:23). The word rain here means heavy, gushing rain that falls in winter months, and the rainy season starts with the former rain in the fall, and ends with the latter rain in the spring. Barley harvest is usually in April and May, and wheat harvest in May and June. Thus we see that Jeremiah was quite correct in his order of seasons in relation to the harvest time, when he said: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Farm in Easton's Bible Dictionary (Matt. 22:5). Every Hebrew had a certain portion of land assigned to him as a possession (Num. 26:33-56). In Egypt the lands all belonged to the king, and the husbandmen were obliged to give him a fifth part of the produce; so in Israel Jehovah was the sole possessor of the soil, and the people held it by direct tenure from him. By the enactment of Moses, the Hebrews paid a tithe of the produce to Jehovah, which was assigned to the priesthood. Military service when required was also to be rendered by every Hebrew at his own expense. The occuptaion of a husbandman was held in high honour (1 Sam. 11:5-7; 1 Kings 19:19; 2 Chr. 26:10). (See LAND LAWS -(n/a); TITHE -T0003681.)

    Farm in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE farm: Mt 22:5 is the only passage where agros, has been rendered "farm." In the many other passages where the same word occurs it is rendered "field" or "piece of ground." Farms such as the Occidental is accustomed to see, namely, isolated dwellings with their groups of outbuildings, surrounded by walls or hedges and overlooking the planted fields, were probably unknown in Israel. For protection against wild beasts and Arab marauders everyone lived in a village and went out to his fields, located perhaps miles away, only as occasion required.

    Farm Scripture - Matthew 22:5 But they made light of [it], and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

    Fertilizer Fertilizer seldom used. The Eastern farmer seldom adds fertilizer to his soil in raising grain. Many a hillside used by the farmer for his crop has a quantity of small, soft lime-stones scattered over it. Part of the lime in the stones is dissolved with each rainstorm, and mixing with the soil, makes it better qualified for a good stand of grain. These stones take care of liming the soil.11 Modern Jews, returning from the West to farm their land, are adding various chemicals from the Dead Sea as fertilizer for their soil. But there is no mention in the Bible of fertilizing the ground for a grain crop. JESUS did mention in one of his parables about the fertilizing of a fig tree (Luke 13:1-9). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Fire Fire. Fire is another enemy of the grain farmer. In Israel, the Arabs let the wheat become dead ripe, and therefore as dry as tinder, before they cut it. Thorns usually grow all around the wheat fields and intermingle with the grain, and thus it would be easy for a fire starting with the thorns to spread to the wheat, and it would be difficult to keep a whole field from being burned. The law of Moses had a wise regulation regarding fire in relation to the grain fields: "If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution" (Exodus 22:6). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Growing and Harvesting Grain THE NUMEROUS REFERENCES to the growth of grain, which are found in the law of Moses, indicate that it was expected that the Israelites would become an agricultural people after entering the land of Canaan, and that the cultivation of grain would become one of their chief industries. It is a remarkable fact that the methods used by them in growing and harvesting this crop are virtually the same as those that have been used by the Palestinian Arab peasants for centuries down to the present day. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Harvesting Olives Harvesting the olive crop. The Arabs harvest their crop of olives in the Holy Land by beating the trees with sticks in order to knock off the fruit. Instead of hand picking them, they beat the limbs and thus cause the fruit to fall. The tender shoots that would ordinarily bear fruit the following year are thus apt to be damaged, so as to interfere greatly with the next year's crop. This is no doubt the reason for the trees yielding a good crop only every other year. The reason why this method is used is because their forefathers have always done it this way, and they don't believe in change of customs. As a matter of fact, Moses indicates that the same method was used by Israel when he gave the law concerning leaving some of the olive berries for the poor: "When thou beatest thine olive tree thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, or the fatherless, and for the widow" (Deuteronomy 24:20). Isaiah also speaks of the obtaining of berries left by the olive harvesters: "Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof" (Isaiah 17:6). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Hedges and Ditches A hedge or wall usually built around a vineyard. An Eastern vineyard is usually surrounded with a ditch, and the earth from the digging of it is thrown along the inner side of the ditch, and upon this a fence of posts, branches, and twigs is built with thorn-branches on top. Oftentimes a wall of either stones or sun-dried mud takes the place of the fence. This serves as protection from foxes, jackals, or other animals, as well as from any thieves. In the parable of JESUS, the owner of the vineyard "hedged it round about" (Matthew 21:33). The Psalmist recounted what would happen to a vineyard whose hedges were broken down: "Why hast thou then broken down the hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it" (Psalm 80:12, 13). The lover in the Song of Solomon speaks of "the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines" (Song of Solomon 2:15). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Kinds of Grain SOWING THE SEED Kinds of grain sown. There are various kinds of grain used in the Orient. The word "corn" as used in English translations of the Bible, is actually the family name for cereal grains, because the "maize" or "indian corn" of modern days was doubtless unknown to Bible writers. The two principal grains cultivated in ancient Israel were wheat and barley. There is one mention in the Old Testament of the use of millet (Ezekiel 4:9). The Revisers in the American Revised Version have changed the word "rye" in Exodus 9:32 and Isaiah 28:25 to mean "spelt." In modern times, both. rice and maize or Indian corn are used in Israel, although the former is largely imported. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Leaving Grain for the Poor Grain left for the poor. The Mosaic Law also had a provision in it to help take care of the poor, in connection with the grain harvest. "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger" (Leviticus 23:22). Ruth the Moabitess made use of this provision as a stranger in the land, and so gleaned in the field of Boaz (Ruth, Chapter 2). The Arab farmers of today still carry out this ancient custom, although they may not be acquainted with the Biblical precept concerning it. They would not think of touching the corner of their field when harvesting. It is left for the poor and stranger. It may be collected later into a great heap, but it is then given to the poor, or used to maintain a guest chamber. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Locusts Locusts. The locusts are a dreaded enemy of the grain farmer. Perhaps these creatures are the most hated of enemy of the Palestinian farmer. These locusts are very much like the large grasshopper with which the Westerner is acquainted. When they reach the proportion of a plague, they are indeed a vast multitude (cf. Judges 6:5; 7:12). They will occupy a space as large as ten or twelve miles long, and four or five miles wide. They are said to march like an army. The Book of Proverbs indicates this interesting fact about them: "Locusts have no king, but they march all in ranks [i.e., in orderly array" (Proverbs 30:27, tr. of C. H. Toy). When the weather is cold and the air is moist, or if they become wet with the dew, then they will stay where they are until the sun has warmed and dried them. The prophet Nahum describes them thus: "Which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away" (Nahum 3:17). The prophet Joel describes the judgment of the Day of the LORD in terms of an invasion of locusts. The plague of locusts shuts out the light of the sun because of their great numbers (Joel 2:2). Before their coming, the land might be like the Garden of Eden, but after they leave, it has become a desolate wilderness (Joel 2:3). Their appearance is compared to horses because the form of their head resembles that of a horse (Joel 2:4). They make a loud noise when they are eating (Joel 2:5). The consternation which they cause to the people of the land may well be understood: "Before their face the people shall be much pained" (Joel 2:6). They are able to pass over walls, and to enter windows or doors of houses (Joe1 2:9). The terrible fact is that sometimes one swarm of locusts after another may invade the same section of land. Dr. Keil believes that this is what Joel 1:4 describes, rather than different stages in the development of the locust. He gives a literal translation of the verse thus: "The leavings of the gnawer the multiplier ate, and the leavings of the multiplier the licker ate, and the leavings of the licker, the devourer ate." [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Lush Locations for Grapes Sections where most of the grapes grow. The favorite places for vineyards in Bible lands are Southern Israel, especially in the vicinity of Hebron where there are many hillsides; and in Syria and the foothills of the Lebanon Mountains in the north. It has been reported that one variety of grape grown in the vicinity of Hebron sometimes develops fruit so that one bunch may weigh as much as twenty-four pounds. Two natives will carry such a bunch on a pole, which reminds us of the spies sent by Moses into Canaan. "And they came unto the brook Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff" (Numbers 13:23). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Muzzling the Ox The oxen not muzzled while threshing. Even today the Arab peasant farmer does not muzzle his oxen while they are treading the grain on the threshing floor. He says it would be a great sin to do so. This agrees with the teaching of the Mosaic Law. "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn [grain]" (Deuteronomy 25:4). The Apostle Paul quotes this Scripture to enforce his argument that "the laborer is worthy of his hire" (I Corinthians 9:9; I Timothy 5:18). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Oxen ANIMALS USED IN PLOUGHING Use of oxen. In Bible times oxen were used almost exclusively for ploughing. For this reason the expression "a yoke" was used by the Hebrews to mean the measure of land which a yoke of oxen could plough in a day (cf. I Samuel 14:14, and Isaiah 5:10). "Oxen" as the Hebrews used the term, meant both sexes of the animal, cows being used as well as bulls for purposes of draught, but the latter were castrated. This explains the reason for the law specifying concerning a heifer to be used for sacrificial purposes, that it be one "upon which never came yoke" (Numbers 19:2). The law of Moses forbade ploughing with an ox and an ass yoked together (Deuteronomy 22:10). The Apostle Paul spoke of "the unequal yoke" in connection with partnership between believers and unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14). Today, the Arabs usually make use of oxen in ploughing, but sometimes utilize camels, and occasionally yoke together an ox and a donkey, or a camel and a donkey. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Parable of the Sower Sowing as illustrated by the parable of JESUS. The process of sowing, and what happens to the seed, is well illustrated by the Parable of the Sower. No better picture could be given of the Oriental process of sowing the grain than that given by JESUS in this parable (Matthew 13:3-8; Mark 4:3-8; Luke 8:5-8). "Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up" (Matthew 13:3, 4). Israel had few roads in the modern sense of the word until the Romans built their roads, and these only connected the most important places. Because traveling was either on foot, or by means of donkeys, or camels. a simple footpath was usually all that was necessary. These paths were given over to public use by ancient custom. If a farmer had such a path running across his land. he would plough the earth to the edge of the narrow path. but would leave it for the use of travelers. The Synoptic Gospels tell of JESUS and His disciples traveling in this manner through a grainfield (Matthew 12:1; Mark 2:23; Luke 6:1). Hedges or fences were seldom erected along such a footpath. When the farmer scattered his seed, some was quite apt to fall on this "way." and not being covered by the plough soon enough, the birds would discover it and eat it. "Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away." (Matthew 13:5, 6). The thought here is not of a soil that is mingled with stones. but rather a thin layer of mould covering a rock. Under such conditions, the grain would spring up quickly. but lacking depth of root. would be scorched by the sun. and fail to mature. "And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them." In Israel and Syria, there are many thornbushes present that are apt to grow adjoining the grainfields. and some of them will spring up in the midst of the grain. The native farmer uses these thornbushes in the summer for the outdoor fires for cooking the meals. Hence he is not so careful to get rid of them in the near vicinity. and so some of these will choke the wheat or barley shoots. "But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit. some an hundredfold: some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold." The native farmers of Bible lands often have poor returns on the seed they sow, because their methods are primitive. But there are instances of good crops in modern times. George Mackie, who was a missionary to Syria, has said: "The soil is in many places exceedingly fertile, and the return corresponds to the standard cited in the parable." When Isaac farmed in the rich Negeb section of Southern Canaan. Scripture says: "Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold" (Genesis 26:12). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Planting Grapevines PLANTING OF THE GRAPEVINES The vineyard of Isaiah's song was planted, "with the choicest vine" (Isaiah 5:2). Although the slips are usually planted Closer together, they are sometimes set about twelve feet apart in order to give plenty of space for the branches to run. As a rule the young vine is trimmed back and does not bear grapes until following the third year. The grape becomes out in April and May and gives out a delicate sweetness. Solomon's Song says: "The vines with the tender grape give a good smell" (Song of Solomon 2:13). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Ploughing PREPARING THE SOIL FOR THE CROP Ploughing. The ploughing of the ground in Oriental fashion is quite primitive. The plough, which at best is a slight implement, can be carried if necessary two miles to the farmer's place of work. Of course by comparison with modern ploughs, it could be said merely to scratch the surface at the soil. The ploughman holds the one handle of the plough with one of his hands, while he carries the goad in the other hand, with which to prod the animals. JESUS said, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). He described the operation accurately in saying hand, i.e. one hand, rather than two hands, as is the case with a Western farmer. It would be fatal for the Palestinian farmer to look back, because his implement is so light that the worker often has to press down with all his weight upon it to keep it from leaving the furrow.8 The Eastern farmers will sometimes plough together, each man having his own plough and team of oxen, and one following close behind the preceding one. This sort of farmer's club is adopted as a protection from roving Bedouin robbers, and also because co-operation is desired when the wheat farms are large. Thus Elisha was found ploughing with eleven other ploughmen and a total of twenty-four oxen (I Kings 19:19). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Ploughing After the Rain Getting ready for ploughing. The farmer gets ready for ploughing after the first rain starts falling, if he has not already done so before. He will spend the time making sure that his plough is in good repair and ready for action. He may need to cut and point a new goad to use in prodding his team of oxen. He must also see to it that his yoke is smooth and fits the necks of the animals. An ill-shaped or heavy yoke would gall them. The LORD JESUS spoke of "the easy yoke" promised to His obedient followers (Matthew 11:30). When the ground has been softened sufficiently by the rain, then the ploughing can begin. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Preparing the Soil The soil prepared for planting. The ground for hillside vineyards is not usually ploughed on account of its rocky character. Rather is the more arduous method of hoeing or spading by hand used. Isaiah pictures the process of cultivation the soil in the words, "and he fenced [digged] it" (Isaiah 5:2). If the farmer in charge of the vineyard does not have a small vineyard, he will probably need to have some workmen to help him, as was the case of the householder in CHRIST's Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-3), and in such a case it is to the marketplace that he will go to secure his workers. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Pruning the Grapevines Pruning of the grapevines. Before the arrival of springtime, the keeper of the vineyard prunes off every superficial branch, every branch that is sickly or feeble, so that the sap may flow into the healthy ones that will bear fruit. The branch that is located nearest the trunk or root usually bears the most grapes. JESUS indicates his familiarity with the pruning of the grapevines, in his famous allegory of the vine and the branches: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman [cultivator] Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth [prunes] it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:1-3). In this example, it is the Word that does the pruning. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Raids RAIDS PRACTICE AMONG ARAB DESERT TRIBES. When there is no strong ruler among the desert tribes of Arabs, (who is able to keep peace between the tribes) then some of the tribes may revert to the old pastime of raiding another tribe. They will select a tribe that is well supplied with cattle and goods, and will send out scouts to familiarize themselves with the tribe they wish to raid. They will organize their forces and plan to arrive there on a set night and usually in the dark of the moon. They will come up in stealth. One of the men or boys will approach the tents in order to attract the attention of the dogs, and then this young man will run in a different direction in order to attract the dogs away from the tents. When the place is sufficiently cleared of the dogs, then the men will rush in from different directions, untie the camels, drive off the sheep and cattle, and steal all the valuable property they can, to take home to their tents and give to their sheik. This will be done amid the screaming of the women. The men who oppose them are overcome. But the raiders are careful not to harm the women, and they are careful not to shed blood. Mohammedan religion permits raids, but does not allow lives to be lost in the process. If blood is shed then a "blood feud" is started, and this is a very serious matter, for they often run for generations. The tribe will endeavor to kill as many as were killed in the raid. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Removing Boulders Large stones gathered out of the land. After putting a hedge or wall around the vineyard, the next task is to gather out stones. Isaiah's parable says: "And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof" (Isaiah 5:2). It is not the small stones that are taken out, because their presence is important to aid in the retaining of moisture in the vineyard's soil. Rather the large boulders must be removed that would be a hindrance to the growing vines. Much of Israel's land has had these rocks present, and they must be laboriously moved in preparation for a crop of grapes. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Sifting Grain SIFTING THE GRAIN When the winnowing process is over, then comes the sifting of the grain. The wheat or barley will still be more or less mixed with certain amounts of chaff, little stones, and perhaps some tares. Sifting is therefore necessary before the grain can be ground into meal. This is the task of the women. The sifter seats herself on the floor, and shakes the sieve which contains the grain, until the chaff begins to appear on the top, and this is blown away by lung power. The stones are removed as are also the tares. The LORD JESUS made reference to the "sifting" of Simon Peter. He said: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:31). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Sowing Seed How and when the seed is sown. The farmer usually carries his seed to his field in a large sack on the back of his donkey. and then the leather bag which he carries under his arm is replenished with seed from the sack.13 As a rule, the seed is scattered broadcast on the ground, and then it is covered over by the ploughing. Often the sower walks along, scattering his seed, and then one of his family, or a servant if he has one, follows directly with the plough. The Biblical word "to sow" as used in the Pentateuch (Genesis 26:12; Leviticus 25:3, etc.), means "to scatter seed." [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Tares Tares. The tares are also enemies of the grain. In his Parable of the Tares, JESUS said: "While men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat" (Matthew 13:25). In the Holy Land, tares are something called "wild wheat," because they resemble wheat, only the grains are black. Thomson has this to say about the tares: "The Arabic name for tares is zawan, and they abound all over the East, and are a great nuisance to the farmer. The grain is small, and is arranged along the upper part of the stalk, which stands perfectly erect. Its taste is bitter, and when eaten separately, or when diffused in ordinary bread, it causes dizziness, and often acts as an emetic. In short, it is a strong soporific poison, and must be carefully winnowed, and picked out of the wheat, grain by grain, before grinding, or the flour is not healthy. Of course the farmers are very anxious to exterminate it, but that is nearly impossible. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    The Mattock Use of pickax or mattock. Where the ground is hard, or on the rocky hillside, it is not possible to use the plough. In such places, if the peasant farmer is industrious, he will prepare the soil by using the pickax or mattock. Isaiah speaks of "hills that shall be digged with the mattock" (Isaiah 7:25). By using such an implement, all the available ground is utilized for the crop. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    The Watchman's Booth or Tower The construction of a booth or tower. For centuries Palestinian vineyards have had watchmen, whose duty it has been to be on the lookout for marauders of any kind. Sometimes a simple booth is constructed for him, on a high spot where he can view the entire vineyard. This is made of branches and boughs of trees, and provides a shelter from the rays of the sun. This place becomes the home for the watchman for the summer months of the year. In the winter months this booth is deserted. Isaiah said: "The daughter of Zion is left as a cottage [booth] in a vineyard" (Isaiah 1:8). Often a more durable abode is made for the watchman, especially if his family is to live with him for the summer. Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard mentions the building of a tower "in the midst" of the vineyard (Isaiah 5:2). JESUS' Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen speaks of the building of a tower in the vineyard (Matthew 21:33). Also when CHRIST told of the man who did not count the cost of building a tower, it was doubtless a vineyard-tower to which he was referring (Luke 14:28-30). These towers were of varying height, all the way from ten feet to an occasional forty feet. These towers were not the same as the ones connected with the city walls. Nor are they the same as the more modern towers now in use by the Jews returning to the land of their fathers, who use them as a protection for their agricultural colonies. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Thieves Thieves. Thieves are also great foes of the grain farmer. This has been especially true in modern times when the government has not been stable and efficient, as sometimes under the Turkish rule. Under those conditions, when the crop of grain has been planted a distance from the villages where the Fellahin farmers have lived, or if it was planted near to the territory of some of the wild tribes of Bedouin Arabs, there has been risk of losing the crop or at least a portion of it. In Bible times, Israel many times lost grain to her enemies. This was especially true in the days of the Judges. "And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east" (Judges 6:3). With enemies nearby, crops may be lost to them, and even the seed is often taken. If therefore the peasant farmer is very poor, and his supply of seed to plant is not large, he would go forth to sow his seed with a certain amount of fear and trembling, wondering if he would get a harvest from his scattering, or if the enemy would take it from him. As the feelings of the Oriental are easily moved, one can imagine him going forth with tears to sow, and if a harvest was actually reaped, what great rejoicing would be his! This is the picture the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote: "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5, 6). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Three Harvest Times for Figs THE FIG TREE Three crops of figs in Israel. The early figs, not very many in number, but large in size, are ripe a month before the main crop; the summer or main crop is used in August and September; and the winter figs remain on the trees until late in the fall of the year. Mention is made in Scripture of the firstripe figs as being desirable (Hosea 9:10), and the ease with which they are secured when the tree is shaken (Nahum 3:12). The summer crop that is not eaten as fresh fruit is dried on the housetops, and then used in the winter months. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Threshing Methods Methods of threshing. Three methods of threshing were in use in ancient times, and in some places in the East today. (1) A flail was used for threshing small quantities of grain. Ruth must have used such a wooden instrument. "And beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley" (Ruth 2:17). And without doubt Gideon was also using such an instrument when he was threshing a small amount of wheat secretly, for fear of the enemy. "Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites" (Judges 6:11). (2) A threshing instrument was often used. One type that has been used in Bible lands in modern days, is composed of two wooden planks joined together, about three feet wide and six feet long, and underneath has rows of cut square holes, and sharp stones or pieces of metal are driven into these. Isaiah well describes such a threshing instrument: "Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth" (Isaiah 41:15). This threshing board is pulled by the oxen over the grain, and the thresher sits or stands upon the instrument, with his goad in his hand to hurry up the animals.36 Another type of threshing instrument takes the form of a small wagon with low cylindrical wheels that serve as saws.37 The prophet must have been thinking of this sort of instrument when he mentioned "the cart wheel" in connection with the threshing activity of the farmer (Isaiah 28:27, 28). (3) The oxen alone were driven over the grain in order to thresh it. This method was the most common method used by the Jews in Old Testament times. The animals were turned over the layer of grain as it lay upon the threshing floor, and their hoofs did the work of threshing. Many of the Fellahin today will say that this is the best way of threshing. "This must have been the same in Bible days, for the Hebrew verb "to thresh" is doosh, which has as its root-meaning 'to trample down], 'to tread under foot'" (cf. Job 39:15; Daniel 7:23). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Vineyards on Hills Hillsides often used. Although vineyards are to be found in various locations in Israel, it has been customary during past years for the hillsides to be utilized for the purpose, or the ground at the foot of a hill that slopes gently. Grapevines like a sandy or loose soil. They need plenty of sunshine and air by day, and dew by night, and their roots will penetrate deep crevices of rock to get nourishment. It was "in a very fruitful hill" that Isaiah's vineyard grew (Isaiah 5:1). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Waiting for Rain Before Ploughing PRELIMINARY PREPARATION FOR PLANTING THE GRAIN Waiting for rain before beginning to plough. In Israel, ploughing is done after the early rains have softened the earth (cf. Psalm 65:10). These rains usually come the latter part of October or the first part of November. If they do not come then, the farmer must wait for them before he can plough his ground. Job said, "They waited for me as for the rain" (Job 29:23). Jeremiah described lack of rain thus: "There was no rain in the earth, the ploughmen were ashamed, they covered their heads" (Jeremiah 14:4). Once the rain has come, the industrious farmer will start his ploughing. "The sluggard will not plough by reason of the cold" (Proverbs 20:4). Such a man will retreat into his home and enjoy the warmth of his fire, but he will miss the harvest. Dr. Thomson tells of one year when the farmers waited until the month of February for sufficient rain to enable them to plough the ground for the grain crop. The harvest came late, but was abundant. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

    Winnowing Grain WINNOWING THE GRAIN Winnowing was accomplished by the use of either a broad shovel or of a wooden fork which had bent prongs. With this instrument, the mass of chaff, straw, and grain was thrown against the wind. Because there was generally a breeze blowing in the evening, this was the time when it was normally done. So Naomi said to Ruth concerning Boaz: "Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshing floor" (Ruth 3:2). When the Bible speaks of the farmer's fan, it does not mean that some instrument was used to increase the wind. Rather, the fan was the shovel or wooden fork used when unseparated grain and straw was thrown against the wind. The prophet Jeremiah tells of GOD using a fan to winnow His people Israel: "And I will fan winnow them with a fan in the gates of the land" (Jeremiah 15:7). When the grain and straw, not as yet separated, are thrown into the air, the wind causes the mass of material to fall as follows: Since the grain is the heaviest, it naturally falls beneath the fan. The straw is blown to the side into a heap, and the lighter chaff and the dust are carried beyond into a flattened windrow. This gave to the Psalmist his figure: "The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away" (Psalm 1:4). The chaff is burned as Scripture often indicates. "And the flame consumeth the chaff" (Isaiah 5:24). John the Baptist was familiar with the winnowing process and the burning of the chaff. He said: "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17). Dr. Lambie reports seeing an additional process used by Bible land Arabs. After being thrown against the wind, the grain is placed on a rock and the farmer uses a mat about eighteen inches square with which to fan the grain, while a helper keeps turning it over, in order to get rid of any remaining chaff. There is no definite reference to such a practice in the Bible, but it is possible this method may have been used in olden times as an additional means of cleaning the grain, or perhaps it was employed when the winds were quiet. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]