Four different root words have been translated "parched" in English Versions of the Bible:
(1) qalah, "roasted." This word is applied to corn or pulse. It is a common practice in Palestine and Syria to roast the nearly ripe wheat for eating as a delicacy. A handful of heads of fully developed grain, with the stalks still attached, are gathered and bound together and then, holding the bunch by the lower ends of the stalks, the heads are toasted over a fire of straw or thorn bush. By the time most of the sheaths are blackened the grain is toasted, and, after rubbing off the husks between the hands, is ready to eat (Leviticus 2:14). A form of pulse is toasted in the same way and is more sought after than the grain. In the larger towns and cities, venders go about the streets selling bunches of toasted chick-peas. The Bible references, however, are probably to another form of roasted grain. The threshed wheat or pulse is roasted over a fire on an iron pan or on a fiat stone, being kept in constant motion with a stirrer until the operation is finished. The grain thus prepared is a marketable article. Parched grain is not now so commonly met with as the pulse, which either roasted or unroasted is called chommoc (from Arabic "to roast" or "parch"). Parched pulse is eaten not only plain, but is often made into confection by coating the seeds with sugar. In Bible times parched wheat or pulse was a common food, even taking the place of bread (Leviticus 23:14; Joshua 5:11; Ruth 2:14). It was a useful food supply for armies, as it required no further cooking (1 Samuel 17:17). It was frequently included in gifts or hostages (1 Samuel 25:18; 2 Samuel 17:28).
(2) charer, "burned" or "parched" (compare Arabic chariq, "burned"), is used in the sense of dried up or arid in Jeremiah 17:6.
(3) tsicheh, is used in Isaiah 5:13, the King James Version "dried up" the Revised Version (British and American) "parched" tsechichah in Psalms 68:6, the King James Version "dry," the Revised Version (British and American) "parched."
(4) sharabh, rendered "parched" in the King James Version, is "glowing" in the Revised Version (British and American). The word implies the peculiar wavy effect of the air above parched ground, usually accompanied by mirages (compare Arabic serdb, "mirage") (Isaiah 35:7; 49:10). In predicting a happy future for Zion the prophet could have chosen no greater contrast than that the hot glowing sands which produce illusive water effects should be changed into real pools.
James A. Patch
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