Sidebar: “Ears of Corn”?

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Does the New Testament depict the disciples picking yellow sweet corn (maize) in firs-century Israel?

This article originally appeared in the JP magazine as a sidebar attached to Shmuel Safrai’s Sabbath Breakers.

Revised: 14-May-13

The King James Version of Luke 6:1 speaks of the disciples plucking ears of corn, which to an American suggests yellow sweet corn rather than the grain the King James translators had in mind. In fact, corn is a generic term used to refer to the most important cereal crop of a region, be it maize, wheat or oats. In the Land of Israel, the main field crops in ancient times were חִטִּים (khitim, wheat) and שְׂעוֹרָה (se’orah, barley). Barley is mentioned thirty-four times in the Hebrew Scriptures, thirteen times together with wheat.

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Ruth with a sheaf of barley. From a mosaic in the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of Joshua N. Tilton.

Ruth with a sheaf of barley. From a mosaic in the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of Joshua N. Tilton.


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  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin
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    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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