Agriculture in Smiths Bible Dictionary

This was little cared for by the patriarchs. The pastoral life, however, was the means of keeping the sacred race, whilst yet a family, distinct from mixture and locally unattached, especially whilst in Egypt. When grown into a nation it supplied a similar check on the foreign intercourse, and became the basis of the Mosaic commonwealth. "The land is mine," Le 25:23 was a dictum which made agriculture likewise the basis of the theocratic relation. Thus every family felt its own life with intense keenness, and had its divine tenure which it was to guard from alienation. The prohibition of culture in the sabbatical year formed a kind of rent reserved by the divine Owner. Landmarks were deemed sacred, De 19:14 and the inalienability of the heritage was insured by its reversion to the owner in the year of jubilee; so that only so many years of occupancy could be sold. Le 25:8-16, 23-35 Rain.-- Water was abundant in Israel from natural sources. De 8:7; 11:8-12 Rain was commonly expected soon after the autumnal equinox. The period denoted by the common scriptural expressions of the "early" and the "latter rain," De 11:14; Jer 5:24; Ho 6:3; Zec 10:1; Jas 5:7 generally reaching from November to April, constituted the "rainy season," and the remainder of the year the "dry season." Crops.--The cereal crops of constant mention are wheat and barley, and more rarely rye and millet(?). Of the two former, together with the vine, olive and fig, the use of irrigation, the plough and the harrow, mention is made ln the book of Job 31:40; 15:33; 24:6; 29:19; 39:10 Two kinds of cumin (the black variety called fitches), Isa 28:27 and such podded plants as beans and lentils may be named among the staple produce. Ploughing and Sowing.--The plough was probably very light, one yoke of oxen usually sufficing to draw it. Mountains and steep places were hoed. Isa 7:25 New ground and fallows, Jer 4:3; Ho 10:12 were cleared of stones and of thorns, Isa 5:2 early in the year, sowing or gathering from "among thorns" being a proverb for slovenly husbandry. Job 5:5; Pr 24:30,31 Sowing also took place without previous ploughing, the seed being scattered broad cast and ploughed in afterwards. The soil was then brushed over with a light harrow, often of thorn bushes. In highly- irrigated spots the seed was trampled by cattle. Isa 32:20 Seventy days before the passover was the time prescribed for sowing. The oxen were urged on by a goad like a spear. Jud 3:31 The proportion of harvest gathered to seed sown was often vast; a hundred fold is mentioned, but in such a way as to signify that it was a limit rarely attained. Ge 26:12; Mt 13:8 Sowing a field with divers seed was forbidden. De 22:9 Reaping and Threshing.--The wheat etc., was reaped by the sickle or pulled by the roots. It was bound in sheaves. The sheaves or heaps were carted, Am 2:13 to the floor--a circular spot of hard ground, probably, as now, from 50 to 80 or 100 feet in diameter. Ge 1:10,11; 2Sa 24:16,18 On these the oxen, etc., forbidden to be muzzled, De 25:4 trampled out the grain. At a later time the Jews used a threshing sledge called morag, Isa 41:15; 2Sa 24:22; 1Ch 21:23 probably resembling the noreg, still employed in Egypt --a stage with three rollers ridged with iron, which, aided by the driver's weight crushed out, often injuring...

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