Four different words have been translated "chaff" in the Old Testament:
(1) mots, is found in Job 21:18; Psalms 1:4; 35:5; Isaiah 17:13; 29:5; 41:15; Hosea 13:3; Zechariah 2:2.
(2) chashash, occurs in two verses (Isaiah 5:24; 33:11). Compare "chashish," an Arabic word which, as commonly used, denotes grass either standing or cut, green or dry, although, strictly speaking, dry or cut grass alone. In the Revised Version (British and American) Isaiah 5:24 the translation is "dry grass."
(3) tebhen, is translated "chaff" in the King James Version (Jeremiah 23:28). The same word is rendered "straw" in the Revised Version (British and American) (compare Arabic tibn).
(4) 'ur, a Chaldaic word, occurs in Daniel 2:35.
In the New Testament achuron, is found in Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:17.
In the process of winnowing, as it has been carried on in the East for thousands of years, the grain is tossed into the air so that the wind may cause a separation of chaff and straw. The light husks from the wheat and fine particles of straw are dispersed by the wind in the form of a fine dust; the heavier straw which has been broken into short pieces by the threshing process falls near at hand on the edge of the threshing-floor, while the grain falls back upon the pile. In Syria and Palestine, that which falls near at hand as cut straw is called tibn. This word occurs in the Arabic translation of
Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:17. This straw is ordinarily saved and fed as "roughage" to the animals. It could easily be gathered and burned, as indicated in the above-mentioned verses, while the chaff is blown away beyond recovery, a strong figure to depict complete annihilation (Job 21:18; Isaiah 29:5; 41:16; Hosea 13:3; Daniel 2:35).
See AGRICULTURE; STRAW; WINNOWING.
JAMES A. Patch