one of the earliest cultivated grains. It bore the Hebrew name hittah , and was extensively cultivated in Palestine. There are various species of wheat. That which Pharaoh saw in his dream was the Triticum compositum, which bears several ears upon one stalk ( Genesis 41:5 ). The "fat of the kidneys of wheat" ( Deuteronomy 32:14 ), and the "finest of the wheat" ( Psalms 81:16 ; 147:14 ), denote the best of the kind. It was exported from Palestine in great quantities ( 1 Kings 5:11 ; Ezekiel 27:17 ; Acts 12:20 ).
Parched grains of wheat were used for food in Palestine ( Ruth 2:14 ; 1 Samuel 17:17 ; 2 Sam 17:28 ). The disciples, under the sanction of the Mosaic law ( Deuteronomy 23:25 ), plucked ears of corn, and rubbing them in their hands, ate the grain unroasted ( Matthew 12:1 ; Mark 2:23 ; Luke 6:1 ). Before any of the wheat-harvest, however, could be eaten, the first-fruits had to be presented before the Lord ( Leviticus 23:14 ).
the well-known valuable cereal, cultivated from the earliest times, is first mentioned in ( ( Genesis 30:14 ) in the account of Jacobs sojourn with Laban in Mesopotamia. Egypt in ancient times was celebrated for the growth of its wheat; the best quality was all bearded; and the same varieties existed in ancient as in modern times, among which may be mentioned the seven-eared quality described in Pharaohs dream. ( Genesis 41:22 ) Babylonia was also noted for the excellence of its wheat and other cereals. Syria and Palestine produced wheat of fine quality and in large quantities. ( Psalms 81:16 ; 147:14 ) etc. There appear to be two or three kinds of wheat at present grown in Palestine, the Triticum vulgare , the T. spelta , and another variety of bearded wheat which appears to be the same as the Egyptian kind, the T. compositum . In the parable of the sower our Lord alludes to grains of wheat which in good ground produce a hundred-fold. ( Matthew 13:8 ) The common Triticum vulgare will sometimes produce one hundred grains in the ear. Wheat is reaped to ward the end of April, in May, and in June, according to the differences of soil and position; it was sown either broadcast and then ploughed in or trampled in by cattle, ( Isaiah 32:20 ) or in rows, if we rightly understand ( Isaiah 28:25 ) which seems to imply that the seeds were planted apart in order to insure larger and fuller ears. The wheat was put into the ground in the winter, and some time after the barley; in the Egyptian plague of hail, consequently, the barley suffered, but the wheat had not appeared, and so escaped injury.
Wheat, usually the bearded variety, is cultivated all over Palestine, though less so than barley. The great plain of the Hauran is a vast expanse of wheat fields in the spring; considerable quantities are exported via Beirut, Haifa, and Gaza. The "wheat harvest" was in olden times one of the regular divisions of the year (Exodus 34:22; Judges 15:1; 1 Samuel 12:17); it follows the barley harvest (Exodus 9:31,32), occurring in April, May or June, according to the altitude.
E. W. G. Masterman
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