Manners & Customs: Ploughing
Ploughing and Ploughs in ancient Bible times
The Plough. One type of Syrian or Palestinian plough is made up of two wooden beams which are joined together, and at the front end it is hooked to a yoke, and at the rear end it is fastened to a crosspiece, the upper part of which serves as the handle, and the lower part holds the iron ploughshare or colter.
Even today many may be seen in Bible lands plowing with what we might term a "forked stick." Bible writers often mention iron ploughshares (I Samuel 13:20, etc.). These ploughs could without much work be changed into swords for warfare. Thus the prophet Joel said: "Beat your ploughshares into swords" (Joel 3:10). Exactly the reverse of this prophecy was suggested by both the prophets Isaiah and Micah in predicting the Golden Age (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Products of the carpenter. There are several products of the Eastern carpenter's skill. Many have wondered what JESUS as a carpenter made. There is an old tradition that has come down to us, that he was a maker of plows and yokes.
The yoke, and most of the plow, with the exception of the iron ploughshare, are constructed of wood, and so would be the task of the carpenters. As there were many farmers among the ancient Hebrews, as there are among the Arab peasants today, there would be a great demand for yokes and plows. Other products of the carpenter would include wooden locks and wooden keys for houses, doors, roofs, windows, low tables, chairs or stools and chests for storage use. The carpenter's most ornamental work would include paneling of the roof, latticework for windows, and decorative art on house doors. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Donkeys for Ploughing
The donkey sometimes utilized for ploughing. The ox has been more generally used for this purpose, but occasionally the donkey becomes the animal to pull the Oriental plough.
The prophet Isaiah speaks of both the ox and the donkey being used thus: "Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass" (Isaiah 32:20). The law of Moses forbade the mixed yoke, i.e., ploughing with an ox and a donkey together, or any other combination (cf. Deuteronomy 22:10).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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]
Plough in Easton's Bible Dictionary
first referred to in Gen. 45:6, where the Authorized Version
"earing," but the Revised Version "ploughing;" next in
and Deut. 21:4. The plough was originally drawn by
sometimes also by asses and by men. (See AGRICULTURE
Plough in Smiths Bible Dictionary
The ploughs of ancient Egypt consisted of a share-often
pointed with iron or bronze--two handles and a pole which was
inserted into the base of the two handles. Ploughs in Israel
have usually but one handle with a pole joined to it near the
ground and drawn by oxen, cows or camels.
Plough Scripture - Luke 9:62
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the
plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
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.
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]
Plow in Naves Topical Bible
Shares of, sharpened by the smiths of the Philistines
-Used by Elisha with twelve yoke (pairs) of oxen
-By Job's servants
Plow in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
plou (charash; arotrioo): No implement of the Bible is more
frequently illustrated today than the plow. This is partly
because there is every reason to believe that the plows
still used throughout Egypt, Israel, and Syria are
counterparts of the ancient ones. The first plows were
probably an adaptation of the ancient Egyptian hoe, where
the handle was lengthened in order that animals might be
hitched to it. To make it easier to break up the ground, it
was pointed, and handles were added by which it could be
guided. The ancient plow probably varied in type in
different sections of the country, as it does today. In one
form a young tree Of oak or other strong wood of a diameter
of 3 or 4 inches is cut off just below a good-sized branch
and again 15 or 20 inches above. The upper end of the
severed trunk is pointed and forms the share. Between this
and the side branch is fitted a brace. The branch is cut off
10 or 12 ft. from the trunk and forms the pole. A lighter
stick, about 3 ft. long, projects upward from the share and
forms the handle. The plow used in Syria is of slightly
different construction. The handle and share are one
continuous piece, so cut that there is a slight bend at the
middle. The share is pointed and is used bare in the plains,
or in more stony regions is shod with iron. The pole is of 2
pieces joined end to end. The thicker end of the pole is
notched, so that it may be attached firmly to the share. The
whole plow is so light that it can be easily carried on a
man's shoulder. These plows literally scratch the soil, as
the Hebrew word implies. They do not turn over the ground as
the modern implement does. The plowman guides the plow with
one hand, and with the other sometimes goads the oxen, and
at other times with the chisel end of his goad breaks away
the lumps of earth or other material which impedes the
progress of his plow.
In addition to the words which are found above, the
following terms occur: `abhadh (literally, "to serve"),
"worked" or "plowed" (Dt 21:4); palach (literally, "to break
open," Ps 141:7).
One special law is mentioned in connection with plowing,
namely that an ox and an ass should not be yoked together
(Dt 22:10), a prohibition which is utterly disregarded
today. Oxen were principally used for plowing (Job 1:14).
Often several yokes of oxen followed each other plowing
parallel furrows across the field, a sight still common on
the plains of Syria (1 Ki 19:19). Plowing was done by bond
servants (Lk 17:7; compare `abhadh, Dt 21:4). Plowing cannot
be done before the rains (Jer 14:4); on the other hand the
soil is too sticky to plow in the winter time (Prov 20:4).
The law requiring one day of rest in every seven days
included plowing time (Ex 34:21).
Figurative: "The plowers plowed upon my back" typified deep
affliction (Ps 129:3; compare 141:7). "Plow iniquity" is
urged in the sense of "plant iniquity." Doing evil was sure
to bring evil consequences (Job 4:8; compare Mic 3:12). As
surely as planting comes after plowing, so surely will
Yahweh carry out His decree of destruction (Isa 28:23-25).
"Judah shall plow," i.e. become enslaved (Hos 10:11);
compare "Foreigners shall be your plowmen" (Isa 61:5). "Will
one plow there with oxen?" (Am 6:12), "neither plowing nor
harvest" (Gen 45:6) are figures of desolation. Zion plowed
as a field, i.e. utterly destroyed (Jer 26:18). The plowman
shall overtake the reaper, i.e. the soil shall be so fertile
as to require no rest--typical of great abundance (Am 9:13).
No opportunity to plow because of lack of rain is a desolate
picture of drought (Jer 14:4). As the plowman expects to
share in the fruits of the harvest, so might an apostle
expect his temporal needs to be provided for (1 Cor 9:10).
"If ye had not plowed with my heifer," i.e. used my wife,
was Samson's reply to those who had secured the answer to
his riddle from her (Jdg 14:18). "Beat their swords into
plowshares" (or hoes) (Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3) typified peace;
"beat your plowshares into swords"--war (Joel 3:10). "Having
put his hand to the plow, and looking back," i.e. longing
for evil things when one has set his face toward doing what
is right, unfits a man for the kingdom of God (Lk 9:62;
compare Gen 19:26; Phil 3:13).
Plow Scripture - 1 Corinthians 9:10
Or saith he [it] altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no
doubt, [this] is written: that he that ploweth should plow in
hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of
Plow Scripture - 1 Samuel 14:14
And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer
made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of
land, [which] a yoke [of oxen might plow].
Plow Scripture - Amos 6:12
Shall horses run upon the rock? will [one] plow [there] with
oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of
righteousness into hemlock:
Plow Scripture - Deuteronomy 22:10
Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.
Plow Scripture - Hosea 10:11
And Ephraim [is as] an heifer [that is] taught, [and] loveth
to tread out [the corn]; but I passed over upon her fair neck:
I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, [and] Jacob
shall break his clods.
Plow Scripture - Isaiah 28:24
Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break
the clods of his ground?
Plow Scripture - Job 4:8
Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow
wickedness, reap the same.
Plow Scripture - Proverbs 20:4
The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; [therefore]
shall he beg in harvest, and [have] nothing.
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]
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]
If you notice a broken link or any error PLEASE report it by clicking HERE
© 1995-2019 Bible History Online