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SICKLE (sĭk'l, Heb. hermēsh, a reaping hook, maggāl, a reaping hook, Gr. drepanon, a tool used for cutting grain). The earlier sickles varied in size, shape, and the material from which they were made. The earliest type seems to have been constructed of wood. It resembled our modern scythes, though smaller, and its cutting edge was made of flint. Later sickles were constructed of metal. These were used mostly for cutting grain, but on occasion they were used for pruning. Mark and John use the sickle in a figurative sense as the instrument of God’s judgment (Mark.4.29; Rev.14.14-Rev.14.20).

SICKLE. Two words are tr. “sickle” in the OT. חֶרְמֵשׁ, H3058, appears only in Deuteronomy 16:9 and 23:25. A sickle was a curved cutting tool for harvesting grain.

In Jeremiah 50:16 and Joel 3:13 the term מַגָּ֖ל appears. It is a metathesized form which meant a hooked or curved staff. The term is common in later Heb. documents and Aram. The NT word, δρέπανον, G1535, occurs in Mark 4:29 and Revelation 14:14-19. In usage the NT follows the Joel passage in presenting the sickle as the instrument of divine wrath and fulfillment.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(chermesh (De 16:9; 23:25), maggal; compare Arabic minjal (Jer 50:16; Joe 3:13); drepanon (Mr 4:29; Re 14:14-19)): Although the ancients pulled much of their grain by hand, we know that they also used sickles. The form of this instrument varied, as is evidenced by the Egyptian sculptures. The earliest sickle was probably of wood, shaped like the modern scythe, although much smaller, with the cutting edge made of sharp flints set into the wood. Sickle flints were found at Tel el-Chesy. Crescent-shaped iron sickles were found in the same mound. In Palestine and Syria the sickle varies in size. It is usually made wholly of iron or steel and shaped much like the instrument used in western lands. The smaller-sized sickles are used both for pruning and for reaping.

James A. Patch

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