« PreviousContinue »
thorns and thistles, and other weeds. In like manner,
the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil; and, unless God prevent, will only do wicked works. This is an awful consideration : it should remind us of the importance of looking to Jesus for pardon and peace, through the blood which he shed upon the cross, which, by the Holy Spirit, is of power to cleanse us from all unrighteous
Let us pray earnestly, that God the Holy Spirit may sanctify our hearts, “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble us ;” and may we all be "filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God,” Heb. xii. 15; Phil. i. 11.
At first, men probably dug the earth, having few or no tools or implements to assist them. Noah is spoken of as a "husbandman," Gen. ix. 20 : perhaps he contrived ploughs and other instruments of agriculture. Ploughs are mentioned by Moses, Deut. xxii. 10, when he is referring to an idolatrous custom of the heather; also by Job iv. 8. The prophets Jeremiah, iv. 3, and Hosea, x. 12,
mention ploughing up the fallow ground. Job, xxxix. 10, speaks of harrows, which are also noticed in other passages of Scripture. Ploughing is mentioned in Gen. xlv. 6, when Joseph says, “ There are five years, in which there shall neither be earing nor harvest ;" for the word earing is an old English word that means ploughing; the Hebrew word there translated by it, is rendered ploughing in some
other texts. The expression “ear the ground,” is also used, 1 Sam. viii. 12. The ploughs usually were much smaller and weaker than those used in England : they had a share and coulter, but much less than those now used, as may be concluded from the prophet proposing that the swords should be beaten into ploughshares, Isa. ii
. 4; Mic. iv. 3. See the drawing on page 67. As the ploughs were smaller and lighter, they required much care in directing them : this may assist to explain Luke ix. 62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Referring to the care and attention necessary in ploughing, our Lord shows the necessity of going forward with steadiness, in attention to the concerns of our souls, and the work we are appointed to perform in his service.
Oxen were used in these ploughs, as by Elisha ; also 1 Sam. xiv. 14; Amos vi. 12. They were driven by goads, or long sticks with sharp iron points, which were of large size, as would be necessary when many oxen were used. We read of twelve yoke, or pairs, used with Elisha's plough, 1 Kings xix. 19 ; in that case the plough probably was very heavy and cumbrous. Maundrell describes the goads used in Syria, not many years ago, as eight feet long, and having a small spade at one end : with one of these Shamgar slew the Philistines, Judg. iii. 31 ; these also are the pricks mentioned, Acts ix. 5. They were formidable instruments.
It is not unusual for the wandering tribes to occupy a piece of land for a season, sowing and reaping the harvest, and then departing : Isaac did thus in Gerar, Gen. xxvi. 12, when he was blessed to receive a hundredfold increase. Sometimes payment is made to the parties nominally possessors of the soil.
SOWING AND HARVEST.
In Exod. ix. 31, 32, various crops grown in Egypt are mentioned. Isaiah (xxviii. 25,) speaks of several sorts of grain, which were sown by the Jews. In the parable of the sower, our Lord spoke of a return of thirty, sixty, and even a hundredfold, Matt. xiii. 8. Gen. xxvi. 12, states how plentiful a harvest Isaac reaped, even a hundredfold
what he had sown. In Egypt there is a sort of wheat that bears several ears upon one stalk, as described by Pharaoh in relating his dream, Gen. xli. 5, and produces very plentifully. Some persons have tried to grow this wheat in England, but our climate and soil do not well suit it. Three months after sowing the corn, the harvest usually began,
and in four months was at its height. The barley harvest was the first, 2 Sam. xxi. 9; that began about the time of the passover, and the wheat harvest about the time of pentecost. They used sickles to cut the corn, as we do now:
see Joel ji. 13; Deut. xvi. 9 ; and several other texts. They bound up the corn in sheaves, Gen. xxxvii. 7 ; Deut. xxiv. 19; Ruth ii. 15, and then piled them in shocks, Judg. xv. 5. As corn, and other sorts of grain are the produce of the ground, and not made by the contrivance of man, there has been less alteration in the methods of cultivation, than in the processes of arts and manufactures.
In the second chapter of Ruth, may be read a very beautiful and particular account of the way in which the harvest was managed in Judæa. There was an overseer set over the reapers, verse 5, and women were employed in the harvest-field as well as men, verse 8.
The refreshment for the reapers while they were at work in the field was only bread and parched corn; their drink was water, with vinegar, or a weak sort of wine, mixed with it, which is very refreshing, as Dr. Clarke found when travelling in those hot countries. At the end of. harvest, there was great rejoicing and a feast, Psa. cxxvi.6; Isa. ix. 3 ; xvi. 9, 10. These feasts were usual on other occasions, such as sheep-shearing, 1 Sam. xxv. 36; 2 Sam. xiii. 23. From the account of Nabal’s preparations, it is plain that large quantities of all sorts of provisions were got ready. The corn was carried home, sometimes on men's shoulders, sometimes on the backs of the cattle, and sometimes in a wagon or cart, Amos. ii. 13. It was then piled up in stacks, Exod. xxii. 6 ; or in barns, Matt. vi. 26; xiii. 30; Luke xii. 18, 24. The reapers in Egypt cut off the ears of corn, and left the stubble standing; this supplied the Israelites, Exod. v. 12, with straw for bricks.
The poor were allowed to glean, for the owners were forbidden to strip the field quite bare; some was to be left “ for the poor and the stranger," Lev. xxiii. 22: this also reminds of Ruth. It seems unkind to object to poor people gleaning, if those who are allowed to do so are honest, and do not attempt to take any except what is fallen.
After the corn is brought home, the next thing is to thresh out the grain.
This was done in different ways; sometimes by horses, Isa. xxviii. 28, or by drawing the wheels of a cart over the corn: but more frequently by oxen, which are mentioned by Hosea, x. 11; and by Moses, Deut. xxv. 4, where it is particularly said, that the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn is not to be muzzled to prevent him from eating. Travellers observe this at the present day, though the oxen are muzzled when employed in other things. The horses and oxen either trod out the corn with their feet, or dragged large stones and heavy pieces of wood, or the carriage already mentioned, backwards and forwards. This method was used by other ancient nations; it is mentioned by Homer; and is still practised in the east. The most simple and usual way probably was, by beating the corn with a flail or staff: see Isa. xxviii. 27. Thus Gideon, Judg. vi. 11; and Araunah, or Ornan, and his sons, 1 Chron. xxi. 20.
This engraving represents the method of treading out corn, usual in modern as in ancient times in the east. The scene is near the sea of Galilee; the back ground shows the common mode of pitching tents.
The floors, or places where the corn was threshed, are mentioned several times : that of Araunah was the place where Solomon's temple was afterwards built. At the floor of Atad, Joseph mourned for Jacob, Gen. 1. 10. These floors were made with some expense and trouble; they were carefully levelled, and covered at the top, but open at the sides in the day time, to let the wind blow away the chaff; to which the destruction of the wicked is compared, Psa. i. 4. They were shut up or guarded at night to preserve the corn from being stolen. The grain was winnowed or separated from the chaff, by turning it over with a shovel
, using a fan to blow away the chaff, Isaiah xxx. 24. John the Baptist alludes to this when speaking of the separation of the righteous from the wicked, Matt. iii. 11, 12.
During the last fifty years, machines for threshing and other purposes have been invented, which differ from the