barley Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
barley in Easton's Bible Dictionary
a grain much cultivated in Egypt (Ex. 9:31) and in Israel
(Lev. 27:16; Deut. 8:8). It was usually the food of horses (1
Kings 4:28). Barley bread was used by the poorer people (Judg.
7:13; 2 Kings 4:42). Barley of the first crop was ready for the
harvest by the time of the Passover, in the middle of April
(Ruth 1:22; 2 Sam. 21:9). Mention is made of barley-meal (Num.
5:15). Our Lord fed five thousand with "five barley loaves and
two small fishes" (John 6:9).
barley in Smith's Bible Dictionary
is one of the most important of the cereal grains, and the most hardy of them all. It was grown by the Hebrews, #Le 27:16; De 8:8; Ru 2:17| etc., who used it for baking into bread chiefly among the poor, #Jud 7:13; 2Ki 4:42; Joh 6:9,13| and as fodder for horses. #1Ki 4:28| The barley harvest, #Ru 1:22; 2:23; 2Sa 21:9;10| takes place in Israel in March and April, and in the hilly district as late as May. It always precedes the wheat harvest, in some places by a week, in others by fully three weeks. In Egypt the barley is about a month earlier than the wheat; whence its total destruction by the hail storm. #Ex 9:31|
barley in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
BAR'LEY . Ex 9:31. A well-known species of grain used for bread, Jud 7:13; John 6:9-13, and also as food for horses and dromedaries. 1 Kgs 4:28. Barley-harvest, Ruth 1:22, usually comes in April -- earlier at Jericho, later on the hills. It precedes wheat-harvest about three weeks in Palestine and a month in Egypt. As human food barley was held in low estimation, which adds significance to the connection between Gideon and the barley-cake in the dream which the man told "his fellow." Jud 7:13. "If the Midianites were accustomed in their extemporaneous songs to call Gideon and his band 'eaters of barley bread,' as their successors, the haughty Bedouins, often do to ridicule their enemies, the application would be all the more natural." -- Thomson. The same fact adds force to Eze 13:19, and elucidates Hos 3:2 and Num 5:15.
barley in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
First mentioned in Exodus 9:31, which shows the barley harvest was earlier than the wheat, a month earlier in Egypt. Neither is found wild. Cereals and the art of converting them into bread were probably God's direct gift to man from the first. The worship of Ceres was probably a corruption of this truth. Canaan was "a land of wheat and barley" (Deuteronomy 8:8). Barley was a food for horses (1 Kings 4:28), but also for men. The hordeum distichum, or "two rowed barley" was that usual in Israel (Judges 7:13; Ezekiel 4:12). Its inferiority to wheat is marked by the jealousy offering being of barley, whereas the ordinary (minchah) meat, offering was of fine wheaten flour (Leviticus 2:1), and the purchase price of the adulteress (Hosea 3:2). The scanty supply, marking the poverty of the disciples, but multiplied by Jesus, was five barley loaves (John 6:9).
The people in Israel still complain that their oppressors leave them nothing but barley bread to eat (Thomson's Land and Book, p. 449). A measure of wheat is made equivalent to three of barley (Revelation 6:6). Barley rapidly ripens. Some was sowed at the autumnal rains in October or November, other barley seed immediately after winter. Barley harvest was a note of time; as when it is said Rizpah, the afflicted widow of Saul, watched over her seven sons' bodies "from the beginning of barley harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven" (2 Samuel 21:9-10), i.e., from May until September. In the Midianite's dream Gideon was regarded as a mere vile barley cake, yet it is just such whom God chooses to overthrow the mighty (Judges 7:13; 1 Corinthians 1:27).