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Threshing Floor

THRESHING FLOOR (Heb. gōren, Gr. halōn). The place where grain was threshed. Usually clay soil was packed to a hard smooth surface. Sheaves of grain were spread on the floor and trampled by oxen often drawing crude wooden sleds with notched rims (Deut.25.4; Isa.28.27; 1Cor.9.9). A shovel and fan were used in winnowing the grain (Isa.30.24). Since robbers would visit the floor at threshing time (1Sam.23.1), the laborers slept there (Ruth.3.4-Ruth.3.7). Threshing floors were often on hills where the night winds could more easily blow away the chaff.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The location and method of making threshing-floors have already been described under AGRICULTURE. These floors have come into prominence because of the Biblical events which occurred on or near them. Joseph with his kinsmen and Egyptian followers halted for seven days at the threshing-floor of Atad to lament the death of Jacob (Ge 50:10). Probably there was a group of floors furnishing a convenient spot for a caravan to stop. Travelers today welcome the sight of a threshing-floor at their halting-place. The hard, level spot is a much preferable to the surrounding stony fields for their tents.

David built an altar on Ornan’s (Araunah’s) threshing-floor (2Sa 24:18-24; 1Ch 21:18-27), which later became the site of the Temple (2Ch 3:1). David probably chose this place for his altar because it was on an elevation, and the ground was already level and prepared by rolling. Uzzah died near the threshing-floor of Nacon for touching the ark (2Sa 6:6). Ru reveals herself to Boaz on his threshing-floor (Ru 3:6-9).

Threshing-floors are in danger of being robbed (1Sa 23:1). For this reason, someone always sleeps on the floor until the grain is removed (Ru 3:7). In Syria, at the threshing season, it is customary for the family to move out to the vicinity of the threshing-floor. A booth is constructed for shade; the mother prepares the meals and takes her turn with the father and children at riding on the sledge.

The instruments of the threshing-floor referred to in 2Sa 24:22 were probably:

(1) the wooden drag or sledge, charuts or moragh, Arabic lauch eddiras;

(2) the fan (fork), mizreh, Arabic midra, for separating straw from wheat;

(3) shovel, meghraphah, Arabic mirfashat, for tossing the wheat into the air in winnowing;

(4) broom, maT’aTe’, for sweeping the floor between threshing and for collecting the wheat after winnowing;

(5) goad, malmedh, Arabic messas;

(6) the yoke, `ol, Arabic tauk;

(7) sieve, kebharah, Arabic gharbal;

(8) dung catcher, Arabic milkat.