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Seed, Seedtime

SEED, SEEDTIME. Heb. זֶ֫רַע, H2446, serves for both Eng. words and, like Gr. σπέρμα, G5065, and σπόρος, G5078, is used to indicate both agricultural and human seed, the latter both in a narrow physical sense and as a description of the descendants of a common ancestor.

Seedtime to the farmer in Pal. occurred in late October or November. After the dry, hot summer it was impossible to plow and plant until the early rains (see Rain) had softened the ground and made it workable. Sowing then took place; the Israelite was commanded not to mix his seed in any field or vineyard, but to plant only one crop (Lev 19:19; Deut 22:9), a stricture parallel to that regarding the mixture of human seed by intermarriage with other nations.

The main types of seed and crop grown by the Israelite farmer were wheat, barley, and rye, as well as a number of vegetables. Of these, the barley might be expected to mature first, roughly ten weeks after seedtime, or about the time of the Passover (see Seasons). Maturing of the other crops occurred thereafter, the wheat approximately six weeks after the barley.

Our Lord gave the word “seed” a new dimension of meaning when He said “the seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). Thereafter the NT combines the agricultural and physical concepts of the seed in its presentation of spiritual truth; the word of God is sown, takes root in the hearts of men, who are then born as children into the family of God (1 Pet 1:23), and become a spiritual seed or nation.