Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

wheat, but possesses the convenient recommendation of being able to ripen well upon any kind of soil. Under all conditions of moisture and dryness the crops are still good. The straw is firm and stiff, and thus is not easily laid by storms; the grain is not attacked by birds, and is seldom spoiled by smut. Hence, in ancient times, spelt was a resource with farmers whose land was harsh. Being inferior to wheat, it was sown also in strips along the margin of the former, supplying a kind of fence. The history begins as early as that of the other grains. Herodotus says that the Egyptians made bread of olupa, which grain others, he remarks, term (ca. Both these names are employed by Homer, who introduces spelt as a grain adapted for horses and cattle. The later classical authors connect spelt very particularly with Egypt and Syria. Long before the Christian era it had become an important food-plant with the Romans. It held a recognized place in sacrifices; and when mingled with vetches, barley, and other plants, was considered to furnish excellent green fodder. The Roman name for it was far. The agricultural mixture was called farrago, and now we employ farrago for any kind of medley.

Not surprising is it, therefore, that spelt should be one of the cereals of which mention is made in Holy Writ. It is intended, there can be little doubt, by the Hebrew name kussemeth, which word is derived from kasam, to shave, the ears or spikes of spelt having a singularly trimmed or shorn appearance, though the length of the awns varies considerably in different sorts. Kussemeth occurs thrice in the Old Testament, but in all three instances is unfortunately inisrendered in the Authorized Version, which gives on two occasions rye,” and in the third place, " fitches.” “The flax and the barley were smitten, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled ; but the wheat and the kussemeth were not smitten, for they were not grown up" (Exod. ix. 31, 32). "The appointed barley and kussemeth(Isa. xxviii. 25). “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and kussemeth, and make thee bread thereof” (Ezek. iv. 9). Rye is a grain of colder climates than those of south-western Asia. Even at the present day it is not cultivated in the Mediterranean region; and there is no reason to suppose that it was even known in the Old Testament periods. “Fitches," in the Ezekiel text, is the mistaken repetition of a term which occurs in the Authorized Version rendering of Isaiah xxviii. 25, 27, where it stands as the translation of ketzach, the same English word doing duty for two different Hebrew words, and in each case wrongfully. Ketza.ch will be dealt with by and by.

BARLEY (Hordeum hexastichon).-Barley, like wheat, is a cereal of immemorial celebrity. The birthplace, though vaguely supposed to be Georgia, is unknown; the early history has never been related. Pliny, on the authority of Menander, says that it was the earliest of the cereals known to mankind-antiquissimum frumentum. That it was cultivated in Egypt, B.c. 1500, may be considered certain. Homer mentions it under the names of kpion and kpl. Æschylus speaks of barley-wine, the original preparation of which is ascribed by the Greek prose authors to the subjects of the Pharaohs. With the primitive Hebrews it stood next in importance to wheat.

The name given to barley by the Hebrews was seorah, or the hairy, a term evidently referring to the long awns, which are more remarkable than even those of bearded wheat. The particular species they had in cultivation, according to Decandolle, was the Hordeum hexastichon, by English farmers called winter or square barley, and so named on account of the spike being constituted of six vertical rows of grain, those of the Hordeum vulgare having only four rows, and those of the distichon only two. It further differs in the comparative smallness of the grains. The herastichon, according to the same author, was the species also cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans ; it is of this species likewise that remains exist in the ancient lakedwellings of Switzerland. By the Hebrews it was sown in October, and reaped in March and April, or just before the Passover, though a portion of the seed seems to have been reserved for a second sowing in early spring. The harvest, at all events in Egypt, was earlier than that of wheat, as indicated in Exodus ix., just now quoted.

Barley is mentioned in Scripture on about twenty-three different occasions, usually as human food, though in 1 Kings iv. 28 it holds precisely the same place as in Homer, “ Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries.” It is invariably dealt with as something inferior to wheat, and whenever anything figurative or metaphorical is in hand, it is associated with ideas of humility. Take, for instance, the appearance of the barley-cake in the vision related in Judges vii. The Israelites had been oppressed by Midian for the space of seven years. “ The Midianites, and the Amalekites, and all the children of the east, lay along in the valley like locusts for multitude; and their camels were without number. . . . And when Gideon was come, a man ... said, Behold, I dreamed . . . and, lo, a cake of barleybread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it, that it fell. . . . And his fellow answered, This is nothing

.

In

else save the sword of Gideon, for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. And it was so.” Gideon was a man of low-born condition. “Behold," says he for himself, "my family is

poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.” The barley-cake thus becomes an eminently appropriate emblem, Gideon is intended by it, and through the help of God, Gideon conquers. Numbers v. 15 the jealousy-offering is ordered to consist of the tenth part of an ephah of barley-meal, on which is to be poured neither oil nor frankincense, jealousy being a mean and ignoble sentiment. Contrariwise, when the offering is to be one of pure reverence,

a sweet savour unto the Lord,” the primary material is “fine wheaten flour.” In 2 Kings vii. 18, “Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel," means there shall be food both for rich and poor. The idea comes up anew in the Apocalypse, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny.”

It is in connection with the story of Ruth that barley holds its most beautiful Scripture aspect; and this not only because of the incidents which pertain to this most lovable tale, unsurpassed in exquisite feeling, simplicity, and naturalness, but on account of its identification once again, and in a manner so striking, with the idea of humility. The story opens with her devotedness to Naomi : “ Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee ; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge : thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried : the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.” The contract completed, the two women journey onwards to Bethlehem. Then come the gleaning in the barley-field, and the meeting with Boaz, and by and by the joyful wedding, and the blessings of the whole neighbourhood. This is the beginning, but the tale ends really and truly only with the birth of our Lord, for it was from the union of Boaz and the young widow that eventually arose the house of David, so that, literally and directly, Ruth was the ancestress of Christ. Surely it cannot be without a purpose that this “sweet story of old," "given by inspiration of God," with sequel so momentous, includes as one of its leading circumstances, scattered ears of barley, and patient and cheerful gleaning, the very foundation of a Christian life. What could be more in keeping with the history of the ancestress of our Lord, who has promised to dwell with those who are of “humble spirit,” and to "give grace to the humble,” than that Ruth should commence her own representative life, which was assigned, be it remembered, to a period when there was perfect peace in the country, with gathering up the symbol of that in which He rejoices ? The events which it has pleased God to have had recorded for our instruction did not happen fortuitously, nor were they placed upon record without a Divine purpose. What it has pleased God to insert in the Bible He has inserted for a purpose, and because significant of something that will endure for ever, and the purpose and significance in question concern every human being. Every true Christian beginning is after the manner of Ruth's morning in the barley-field.

Every other scriptural allusion to barley, when employed as the basis of a spiritual idea, involves a similar principle, not omitting that one in the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the loaves being made of barley ; nor that one in Hosea iii. 2. Once, in the Old Testament, faithfully translated in the Authorized Version, barley appears to have been named in error, viz., in 1 Chron. xi. 13, the earlier and more authentic record, in 2 Sam. xxiii. 11, giving as the scene of the event described, a field of lentils.

MILLET (Sorghum vulgare).—Once, and once only, in the Old Testament, mention is made of millet. It appears, under the Hebrew name of dôchan or duchan, in Ezek. iv. 9, where this grain is associated with wheat, barley, beans, and lentils. Little is known in England of millet as an article of human food, but in warm countries, India most particularly, it holds a front place, and appears to have done so from the remotest times. Sir Gardner Wilkinson mentions it as found with other seeds in the Egyptian tombs. Herodotus says that millet was one of the farm-plants of the country around Babylon, adding that he fears to mention its stature and its fecundity, lest at home he should not be believed. It is to its extraordinary fruitfulness that the name of millet, given in after ages, expressly refers. The remark made by Herodotus shows that at the period of his travels millet had not extended so far westwards as Greece, though subsequently it became diffused throughout the Mediterranean region, and in modern times it has been carried much further. Pliny describes it under the name of Milium Indicum (xviii. 7). There is a reference also in Apollonius, who considered it one of the most remarkable plants in nature. In Africa, for many ages, millet has been a staple, going by the name of durra, doora, or dhourra, which in commerce sometimes changes to dari. To what extent it was cultivated in ancient Palestine there is no evidence to show. The occurrence of the name only once would seem to indicate that the place it held with the Hebrew farmer was quite subordinate. The name of millet having been applied somewhat generally, the signification of dôchan may perhaps have been wider than here indicated. There is every reason, however, to believe that the grain ordinarily had in view was the produce of the Sorghum. Under cultivation it is a noble and reed-like grass, attaining a stature of several feet. The leaves are long and broad; the grain is borne in a large and erect panicle; every seed, when ripe, is enclosed in a shining skin, yellowish, reddish, or black, according to the variety; the flour is white and sweet. It is from the branches of the panicle that the common whisks of the brushmakers' shops are manufactured. Possibly the Hebrew dóchan may have included the grain commonly known in England as millet-seed, the produce of the Panicum miliaceum, this grass having likewise been cultivated in the East from time immemorial. Unlike the Sorghum, the Panicum is familiar, growing readily in England, and in favourable seasons ripening its grain abundantly. The stems rise to the height of four or five feet; the large terminal panicles are much divided, very delicate, and half-pendulous; the glossy seeds seem little pearls, only that the colour is pale amber. Beyond this, however, the name of dôchan would not extend, the various East Indian grains which to-day bear the name of millet never having been grown much beyond the limits of their native country. Dr. Royle thinks that one or other of the two millets above described may be referred to in the perplexing term pannag, employed by Ezekiel in his account of the commerce of Tyre :—“Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy merchants : they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, and pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm” (xxvii. 17). Whatever the term denotes, pannag was evidently a product of the country. It has been thought to be the name of some flavouring substance; but that it more probably denotes millet is shown by the rendering in the Syriac version of the Old Testament, made in the first century of the Christian era, which employs the identical and undisputed word dôchan.

Bread, for the preparation of which these various grains were cultivated, is mentioned in Scripture at least 250 times. Many sorts were in use, as shown in the 2nd and 8th chapters of Leviticus, where the kinds suitable for offerings are particularized as 6 bread baked in the oven," “ unleavened bread," " unleavened wafers," “ bread baked in a pan," &c. The entire Hebrew ritual having been representative and

« ForrigeFortsæt »