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, the chief of the forth priestly course (1 Chr. 24:8).
used, in Amos 9:9, of a small stone or kernel; in Matt. 13:31,
of an individual seed of mustard; in John 12:24, 1 Cor. 15:37,
of wheat. The Hebrews sowed only wheat, barley, and spelt; rye
and oats are not mentioned in Scripture.
Heb. belil, (Job 6:5), meaning properly a mixture or medley
(Lat. farrago), "made up of various kinds of grain, as wheat,
barley, vetches, and the like, all mixed together, and then sown
or given to cattle" (Job 24:6, A.V. "corn," R.V. "provender;"
Isa. 30:24, provender").
(Ex. 9:31), meaning "swollen or podded for seed," was adopted in
the Authorized Version from the version of Coverdale (1535). The
Revised Version has in the margin "was in bloom," which is the
more probable rendering of the Hebrew word. It is the fact that
in Egypt when barley is in ear (about February) flax is
an ear of corn, the month of newly-ripened grain (Ex. 13:4;
23:15); the first of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, and the
seventh of the civil year. It began about the time of the vernal
equinox, on 21st March. It was called Nisan, after the Captivity
(Neh. 2:1). On the fifteenth day of the month, harvest was begun
by gathering a sheaf of barley, which was offered unto the Lord
on the sixteenth (Lev. 23:4-11).
parts of peace-offerings were so called, because they were waved
by the priests (Ex. 29:24, 26, 27; Lev. 7:20-34; 8:27; 9:21;
10:14, 15, etc.), in token of a solemn special presentation to
God. They then became the property of the priests. The
first-fruits, a sheaf of barley, offered at the feast of
Pentecost (Lev. 23:17-20), and wheat-bread, the first-fruits of
the second harvest, offered at the Passover (10-14), were
large, the sixth month of the civil and the twelfth of the
ecclesiastical year of the Jews (Esther 3:7, 13; 8:12; 9:1, 15,
17, 19, 21). It included the days extending from the new moon of
our March to the new moon of April. The name was first used
after the Captivity. When the season was backward, and the lambs
not yet of a paschal size, or the barley not forward enough for
abib, then a month called Veadar, i.e., a second Adar, was
Cakes made of wheat or barley were offered in the temple. They
were salted, but unleavened (Ex. 29:2; Lev. 2:4). In idolatrous
worship thin cakes or wafers were offered "to the queen of
heaven" (Jer. 7:18; 44:19).
Pancakes are described in 2 Sam. 13:8, 9. Cakes mingled with
oil and baked in the oven are mentioned in Lev. 2:4, and "wafers
unleavened anointed with oil," in Ex. 29:2; Lev. 8:26; 1 Chr.
23:29. "Cracknels," a kind of crisp cakes, were among the things
Jeroboam directed his wife to take with her when she went to
consult Ahijah the prophet at Shiloh (1 Kings 14:3). Such hard
cakes were carried by the Gibeonites when they came to Joshua
(9:5, 12). They described their bread as "mouldy;" but the
Hebrew word "nikuddim", here used, ought rather to be rendered
"hard as biscuit." It is rendered "cracknels" in 1 Kings 14:3.
The ordinary bread, when kept for a few days, became dry and
excessively hard. The Gibeonites pointed to this hardness of
their bread as an evidence that they had come a long journey.
We read also of honey-cakes (Ex. 16:31), "cakes of figs" (1
Sam. 25:18), "cake" as denoting a whole piece of bread (1 Kings
17:12), and "a [round] cake of barley bread" (Judg. 7:13). In
Lev. 2 is a list of the different kinds of bread and cakes which
were fit for offerings.
insolence; pride, a poetical name applied to Egypt in Ps. 87:4;
89:10; Isa. 51:9, as "the proud one."
Rahab, (Heb. Rahab; i.e., "broad," "large"). When the Hebrews
were encamped at Shittim, in the "Arabah" or Jordan valley
opposite Jericho, ready to cross the river, Joshua, as a final
preparation, sent out two spies to "spy the land." After five
days they returned, having swum across the river, which at this
season, the month Abib, overflowed its banks from the melting of
the snow on Lebanon. The spies reported how it had fared with
them (Josh. 2:1-7). They had been exposed to danger in Jericho,
and had been saved by the fidelity of Rahab the harlot, to whose
house they had gone for protection. When the city of Jericho
fell (6:17-25), Rahab and her whole family were preserved
according to the promise of the spies, and were incorporated
among the Jewish people. She afterwards became the wife of
Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah (Ruth 4:21; 1 Chr. 2:11;
Matt. 1:5). "Rahab's being asked to bring out the spies to the
soldiers (Josh. 2:3) sent for them, is in strict keeping with
Eastern manners, which would not permit any man to enter a
woman's house without her permission. The fact of her covering
the spies with bundles of flax which lay on her house-roof (2:6)
is an 'undesigned coincidence' which strictly corroborates the
narrative. It was the time of the barley harvest, and flax and
barley are ripe at the same time in the Jordan valley, so that
the bundles of flax stalks might have been expected to be drying
just then" (Geikie's Hours, etc., ii., 390).
(John 2:1-11) "lasted usually for a whole week; but the cost of
such prolonged rejoicing is very small in the East. The guests
sit round the great bowl or bowls on the floor, the meal usually
consisting of a lamb or kid stewed in rice or barley. The most
honoured guests sit nearest, others behind; and all in eating
dip their hand into the one smoking mound, pieces of the thin
bread, bent together, serving for spoons when necessary. After
the first circle have satisfied themselves, those lower in
honour sit down to the rest, the whole company being men, for
women are never seen at a feast. Water is poured on the hands
before eating; and this is repeated when the meal closes, the
fingers having first been wiped on pieces of bread, which, after
serving the same purpose as table-napkins with us, are thrown on
the ground to be eaten by any dog that may have stolen in from
the streets through the ever-open door, or picked up by those
outside when gathered and tossed out to them (Matt. 15:27; Mark
7:28). Rising from the ground and retiring to the seats round
the walls, the guests then sit down cross-legged and gossip, or
listen to recitals, or puzzle over riddles, light being scantily
supplied by a small lamp or two, or if the night be chilly, by a
smouldering fire of weeds kindled in the middle of the room,
perhaps in a brazier, often in a hole in the floor. As to the
smoke, it escapes as it best may; but indeed there is little of
it, though enough to blacken the water or wine or milk skins
hung up on pegs on the wall. (Compare Ps. 119:83.) To some such
marriage-feast Jesus and his five disciples were invited at Cana
of Galilee." Geikie's Life of Christ. (See CANA T0000702.)
God his salvation, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, who
became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1 Kings 19:16-19).
His name first occurs in the command given to Elijah to anoint
him as his successor (1 Kings 19:16). This was the only one of
the three commands then given to Elijah which he accomplished.
On his way from Sinai to Damascus he found Elisha at his native
place engaged in the labors of the field, ploughing with twelve
yoke of oxen. He went over to him, threw over his shoulders his
rough mantle, and at once adopted him as a son, and invested him
with the prophetical office (compare Luke 9:61, 62). Elisha
accepted the call thus given (about four years before the death
of Ahab), and for some seven or eight years became the close
attendant on Elijah till he was parted from him and taken up
into heaven. During all these years we hear nothing of Elisha
except in connection with the closing scenes of Elijah's life.
After Elijah, Elisha was accepted as the leader of the sons of
the prophets, and became noted in Israel. He possessed,
according to his own request, "a double portion" of Elijah's
spirit (2 Kings 2:9); and for the long period of about sixty
years (B.C. 892-832) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2
After Elijah's departure, Elisha returned to Jericho, and
there healed the spring of water by casting salt into it (2
Kings 2:21). We next find him at Bethel (2:23), where, with the
sternness of his master, he cursed the youths who came out and
scoffed at him as a prophet of God: "Go up, thou bald head." The
judgment at once took effect, and God terribly visited the
dishonour done to his prophet as dishonour done to himself. We
next read of his predicting a fall of rain when the army of
Jehoram was faint from thirst (2 Kings 3:9-20); of the
multiplying of the poor widow's cruse of oil (4:1-7); the
miracle of restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem
(4:18-37); the multiplication of the twenty loaves of new barley
into a sufficient supply for an hundred men (4:42-44); of the
cure of Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy (5:1-27); of the
punishment of Gehazi for his falsehood and his covetousness; of
the recovery of the axe lost in the waters of the Jordan
(6:1-7); of the miracle at Dothan, half-way on the road between
Samaria and Jezreel; of the siege of Samaria by the king of
Syria, and of the terrible sufferings of the people in
connection with it, and Elisha's prophecy as to the relief that
would come (2 Kings 6:24-7:2).
We then find Elisha at Damascus, to carry out the command
given to his master to anoint Hazael king over Syria (2 Kings
8:7-15); thereafter he directs one of the sons of the prophets
to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead
of Ahab. Thus the three commands given to Elijah (9:1-10) were
at length carried out.
We do not again read of him till we find him on his death-bed
in his own house (2 Kings 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of
Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters
the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away:
"My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen
Afterwards when a dead body is laid in Elisha's grave a year
after his burial, no sooner does it touch the hallowed remains
than the man "revived, and stood up on his feet" (2 Kings
Tilling the ground (Gen. 2:15; 4:2, 3, 12) and rearing cattle
were the chief employments in ancient times. The Egyptians
excelled in agriculture. And after the Israelites entered into
the possession of the Promised Land, their circumstances
favoured in the highest degree a remarkable development of this
art. Agriculture became indeed the basis of the Mosaic
The year in Israel was divided into six agricultural
I. SOWING TIME.
Tisri, latter half
(beginning about the autumnal equinox.)
Kisleu, former half.
Early rain due = first showers of autumn.
II. UNRIPE TIME.
Kisleu, latter half.
Sebat, former half.
III. COLD SEASON.
Sebat, latter half.
Nisan, former half.
Latter rain due (Deut. 11:14; Jer. 5:24; Hos. 6:3; Zech. 10:1;
James 5:7; Job 29:23).
IV. HARVEST TIME.
Nisan, latter half.
(Beginning about vernal equinox. Barley green. Passover.)
Sivan, former half., Wheat ripe. Pentecost.
V. SUMMER (total absence of rain)
Sivan, latter half.
Ab, former half.
VI. SULTRY SEASON
Ab, latter half.
Tisri, former half., Ingathering of fruits.
The six months from the middle of Tisri to the middle of Nisan
were occupied with the work of cultivation, and the rest of the
year mainly with the gathering in of the fruits. The extensive
and easily-arranged system of irrigation from the rills and
streams from the mountains made the soil in every part of
Israel richly productive (Ps. 1:3; 65:10; Prov. 21:1; Isa.
30:25; 32:2, 20; Hos. 12:11), and the appliances of careful
cultivation and of manure increased its fertility to such an
extent that in the days of Solomon, when there was an abundant
population, "20,000 measures of wheat year by year" were sent to
Hiram in exchange for timber (1 Kings 5:11), and in large
quantities also wheat was sent to the Tyrians for the
merchandise in which they traded (Ezek. 27:17). The wheat
sometimes produced an hundredfold (Gen. 26:12; Matt. 13:23).
Figs and pomegranates were very plentiful (Num. 13:23), and the
vine and the olive grew luxuriantly and produced abundant fruit
Lest the productiveness of the soil should be exhausted, it
was enjoined that the whole land should rest every seventh year,
when all agricultural labour would entirely cease (Lev. 25:1-7;
It was forbidden to sow a field with divers seeds (Deut.
22:9). A passer-by was at liberty to eat any quantity of corn or
grapes, but he was not permitted to carry away any (Deut. 23:24,
25; Matt. 12:1). The poor were permitted to claim the corners of
the fields and the gleanings. A forgotten sheaf in the field was
to be left also for the poor. (See Lev. 19:9, 10; Deut. 24:19.)
Agricultural implements and operations.
The sculptured monuments and painted tombs of Egypt and
Assyria throw much light on this subject, and on the general
operations of agriculture. Ploughs of a simple construction were
known in the time of Moses (Deut. 22:10; compare Job 1:14). They
were very light, and required great attention to keep them in
the ground (Luke 9:62). They were drawn by oxen (Job 1:14), cows
(1 Sam. 6:7), and asses (Isa. 30:24); but an ox and an ass must
not be yoked together in the same plough (Deut. 22:10). Men
sometimes followed the plough with a hoe to break the clods
(Isa. 28:24). The oxen were urged on by a "goad," or long staff
pointed at the end, so that if occasion arose it could be used
as a spear also (Judg. 3:31; 1 Sam. 13:21).
When the soil was prepared, the seed was sown broadcast over
the field (Matt. 13:3-8). The "harrow" mentioned in Job 39:10
was not used to cover the seeds, but to break the clods, being
little more than a thick block of wood. In highly irrigated
spots the seed was trampled in by cattle (Isa. 32:20); but
doubtless there was some kind of harrow also for covering in the
seed scattered in the furrows of the field.
The reaping of the corn was performed either by pulling it up
by the roots, or cutting it with a species of sickle, according
to circumstances. The corn when cut was generally put up in
sheaves (Gen. 37:7; Lev. 23:10-15; Ruth 2:7, 15; Job 24:10; Jer.
9:22; Micah 4:12), which were afterwards gathered to the
threshing-floor or stored in barns (Matt. 6:26).
The process of threshing was performed generally by spreading
the sheaves on the threshing-floor and causing oxen and cattle
to tread repeatedly over them (Deut. 25:4; Isa. 28:28). On
occasions flails or sticks were used for this purpose (Ruth
2:17; Isa. 28:27). There was also a "threshing instrument" (Isa.
41:15; Amos 1:3) which was drawn over the corn. It was called by
the Hebrews a moreg, a threshing roller or sledge (2 Sam. 24:22;
1 Chr. 21:23; Isa. 3:15). It was somewhat like the Roman
tribulum, or threshing instrument.
When the grain was threshed, it was winnowed by being thrown
up against the wind (Jer. 4:11), and afterwards tossed with
wooden scoops (Isa. 30:24). The shovel and the fan for winnowing
are mentioned in Ps. 35:5, Job 21:18, Isa. 17:13. The refuse of
straw and chaff was burned (Isa. 5:24). Freed from impurities,
the grain was then laid up in granaries till used (Deut. 28:8;
Prov. 3:10; Matt. 6:26; 13:30; Luke 12:18).
originally denoted only the sea-coast of the land of Canaan
inhabited by the Philistines (Ex. 15:14; Isa. 14:29, 31; Joel
3:4), and in this sense exclusively the Hebrew name Pelesheth
(rendered "Philistia" in Ps. 60:8; 83:7; 87:4; 108:9) occurs in
the Old Testament.
Not till a late period in Jewish history was this name used to
denote "the land of the Hebrews" in general (Gen. 40:15). It is
also called "the holy land" (Zech. 2:12), the "land of Jehovah"
(Hos. 9:3; Ps. 85:1), the "land of promise" (Heb. 11:9), because
promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 24:7), the "land of Canaan"
(Gen. 12:5), the "land of Israel" (1 Sam. 13:19), and the "land
of Judah" (Isa. 19:17).
The territory promised as an inheritance to the seed of
Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21; Num. 34:1-12) was bounded on the east by
the river Euphrates, on the west by the Mediterranean, on the
north by the "entrance of Hamath," and on the south by the
"river of Egypt." This extent of territory, about 60,000 square
miles, was at length conquered by David, and was ruled over also
by his son Solomon (2 Sam. 8; 1 Chr. 18; 1 Kings 4:1, 21). This
vast empire was the Promised Land; but Israel was only a part
of it, terminating in the north at the southern extremity of the
Lebanon range, and in the south in the wilderness of Paran, thus
extending in all to about 144 miles in length. Its average
breadth was about 60 miles from the Mediterranean on the west to
beyond the Jordan. It has fittingly been designated "the least
of all lands." Western Israel, on the south of Gaza, is only
about 40 miles in breadth from the Mediterranean to the Dead
Sea, narrowing gradually toward the north, where it is only 20
miles from the sea-coast to the Jordan.
Israel, "set in the midst" (Ezek. 5:5) of all other lands,
is the most remarkable country on the face of the earth. No
single country of such an extent has so great a variety of
climate, and hence also of plant and animal life. Moses
describes it as "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of
fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a
land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and
pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein
thou shalt not eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack
any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose
hills thou mayest dig brass" (Deut. 8:7-9).
"In the time of Christ the country looked, in all probability,
much as now. The whole land consists of rounded limestone hills,
fretted into countless stony valleys, offering but rarely level
tracts, of which Esdraelon alone, below Nazareth, is large
enough to be seen on the map. The original woods had for ages
disappeared, though the slopes were dotted, as now, with figs,
olives, and other fruit-trees where there was any soil.
Permanent streams were even then unknown, the passing rush of
winter torrents being all that was seen among the hills. The
autumn and spring rains, caught in deep cisterns hewn out like
huge underground jars in the soft limestone, with artificial
mud-banked ponds still found near all villages, furnished water.
Hills now bare, or at best rough with stunted growth, were then
terraced, so as to grow vines, olives, and grain. To-day almost
desolate, the country then teemed with population. Wine-presses
cut in the rocks, endless terraces, and the ruins of old
vineyard towers are now found amidst solitudes overgrown for
ages with thorns and thistles, or with wild shrubs and poor
gnarled scrub" (Geikie's Life of Christ).
From an early period the land was inhabited by the descendants
of Canaan, who retained possession of the whole land "from Sidon
to Gaza" till the time of the conquest by Joshua, when it was
occupied by the twelve tribes. Two tribes and a half had their
allotments given them by Moses on the east of the Jordan (Deut.
3:12-20; compare Num. 1:17-46; Josh. 4:12-13). The remaining
tribes had their portion on the west of Jordan.
From the conquest till the time of Saul, about four hundred
years, the people were governed by judges. For a period of one
hundred and twenty years the kingdom retained its unity while it
was ruled by Saul and David and Solomon. On the death of
Solomon, his son Rehoboam ascended the throne; but his conduct
was such that ten of the tribes revolted, and formed an
independent monarchy, called the kingdom of Israel, or the
northern kingdom, the capital of which was first Shechem and
afterwards Samaria. This kingdom was destroyed. The Israelites
were carried captive by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, B.C. 722,
after an independent existence of two hundred and fifty-three
years. The place of the captives carried away was supplied by
tribes brought from the east, and thus was formed the Samaritan
nation (2 Kings 17:24-29).
Nebuchadnezzar came up against the kingdom of the two tribes,
the kingdom of Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, one
hundred and thirty-four years after the overthrow of the kingdom
of Israel. He overthrew the city, plundered the temple, and
carried the people into captivity to Babylon (B.C. 587), where
they remained seventy years. At the close of the period of the
Captivity, they returned to their own land, under the edict of
Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4). They rebuilt the city and temple, and
restored the old Jewish commonwealth.
For a while after the Restoration the Jews were ruled by
Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and afterwards by the high
priests, assisted by the Sanhedrin. After the death of Alexander
the Great at Babylon (B.C. 323), his vast empire was divided
between his four generals. Egypt, Arabia, Israel, and
Coele-Syria fell to the lot of Ptolemy Lagus. Ptolemy took
possession of Israel in B.C. 320, and carried nearly one
hundred thousand of the inhabitants of Jerusalem into Egypt. He
made Alexandria the capital of his kingdom, and treated the Jews
with consideration, confirming them in the enjoyment of many
After suffering persecution at the hands of Ptolemy's
successors, the Jews threw off the Egyptian yoke, and became
subject to Antiochus the Great, the king of Syria. The cruelty
and opression of the successors of Antiochus at length led to
the revolt under the Maccabees (B.C. 163), when they threw off
the Syrian yoke.
In the year B.C. 68, Israel was reduced by Pompey the Great
to a Roman province. He laid the walls of the city in ruins, and
massacred some twelve thousand of the inhabitants. He left the
temple, however, unijured. About twenty-five years after this
the Jews revolted and cast off the Roman yoke. They were
however, subdued by Herod the Great (q.v.). The city and the
temple were destroyed, and many of the inhabitants were put to
death. About B.C. 20, Herod proceeded to rebuild the city and
restore the ruined temple, which in about nine years and a half
was so far completed that the sacred services could be resumed
in it (compare John 2:20). He was succeeded by his son Archelaus,
who was deprived of his power, however, by Augustus, A.D. 6,
when Israel became a Roman province, ruled by Roman governors
or procurators. Pontius Pilate was the fifth of these
procurators. He was appointed to his office A.D. 25.
Exclusive of Idumea, the kingdom of Herod the Great
comprehended the whole of the country originally divided among
the twelve tribes, which he divided into four provinces or
districts. This division was recognized so long as Israel was
under the Roman dominion. These four provinces were, (1) Judea,
the southern portion of the country; (2) Samaria, the middle
province, the northern boundary of which ran along the hills to
the south of the plain of Esdraelon; (3) Galilee, the northern
province; and (4) Peraea (a Greek name meaning the "opposite
country"), the country lying east of the Jordan and the Dead
Sea. This province was subdivided into these districts, (1)
Peraea proper, lying between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok; (2)
Galaaditis (Gilead); (3) Batanaea; (4) Gaulonitis (Jaulan); (5)
Ituraea or Auranitis, the ancient Bashan; (6) Trachonitis; (7)
Abilene; (8) Decapolis, i.e., the region of the ten cities. The
whole territory of Israel, including the portions alloted to
the trans-Jordan tribes, extended to about eleven thousand
square miles. Recent exploration has shown the territory on the
west of Jordan alone to be six thousand square miles in extent,
the size of the principality of Wales.