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An important Biblical crop, as one would imagine, wheat is mentioned fifty-two times, most frequently as ḥittâ. There are several striking passages in which wheat occurs, for instance, when Gideon threshed wheat at the time of his call (Judg 6:11); Ruth arrived at the right time in Bethlehem (Ruth 2:23), so that she could glean plenty of wheat. Ornan was threshing wheat (1 Chron 21:20) when he saw the angel. We also have the picture of the end of the world when the “wheat” will be gathered (Luke 3:17), and the need of death to self (John 12:24)—“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth.”

Wheat is, of course, Triticum aestivum, the ordinary summer or winter wheat, or Triticum compositum, the bearded wheat, with several ears on one stalk. There is also the Egyp. wheat, Triticum tungidum; the one-grained wheat, Triticum monoccum; the wild wheat, Triticum dicoccoides.

The writer found only two actual varieties growing in Pal. on his last visit. These were Triticum durum zenati x Bonterli and Triticum vulgare Florence x aurore.

When the Israelities settled in Pal., they became great farmers and produced vast quantities of wheat which they exported. Much went by ship to Tyre (Amos 8:5) and to other parts of the Mediterranean. However, some think that in Jotham’s time (2 Chron 27:5), the farmers had become lazy, because he demanded as payment from the Ammonites 100,000 bushels of wheat.

The wheat harvest in Pal. is from the third week of April until the second week of June, depending on the soil, situation, and time of sowing. This is such an important time of the year that people referred to “after the wheat harvest” or “at the time of the wheat harvest” as in Genesis 30:14, and in Ruth.

The threshing was done as a rule with a long, flexible stick known as a flail (Isa 41:16). It could be trodden out by oxen walking round and round over the cut wheat (Deut 25:4), or there was always the crushing or bruising of the wheat ears by means of a wheel of a cart running over it. This method is described for bread corn in Isaiah 28:28.

The terms “corn” and “wheat” seem to be alternatives, and even today one refers to the “corn fields” of Great Britain. Americans must not confuse this corn with sweet corn.

Our Lord’s reference to one-hundred-fold in Matthew 13 has been questioned by some doubters, but good varieties and strains of Triticum aestivum can carry heads of corn containing 100 grains.

The sowing of wheat was usually done in the winter in Pal.—broadcast and lightly plowed in. Occasionally, the sowing was done in rows (Isa 28:25) “put in wheat in rows...in its proper place”—presumably in straight lines.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


((1) chiTTah, the specific word for wheat (Ge 30:14; Ex 34:22, etc.), with puros (Judith 3:3; Sirach 39:26);

(2) bar, or bar (Jer 23:28; Joe 2:24; Am 5:11; 8:6); in other passages translated "grain" or "corn";

See also

  • Plants