508. Threshing

Isaiah 28:27‑28; Judges 6:11; Ruth 2:17; 2 Samuel 24:22; 1 Chronicles 21:23‑25; Proverbs 20:26; Isaiah 41:15; Amos 1:3  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Isaiah 28:27-2827For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. 28Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen. (Isaiah 28:27‑28). The fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.
Four different modes of threshing are here referred to:
1. With a rod or flail. This was for the small delicate seeds, such as fitches and cummin. It was also used for grain when only a small quantity was to be threshed, or when it was necessary to conceal the operation from an enemy. It was doubtless in this manner that Ruth, when she was in the field of Boaz, “beat out” at evening what she had gleaned during the day.
See Ruth 2:1717So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley. (Ruth 2:17). It was probably in the same way that Gideon “threshed wheat by the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites” (Judges 6:1111And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. (Judges 6:11)). With a stick he could beat out a little at a time, and conceal it in the tub of the wine-press from the hostile Midianites.
2. With the charuts, “threshing instrument.” This was a machine in some respects resembling the ordinary stone-sledge of American farmers. Professor Hackett describes one he saw at Beirut: “The frame was composed of thick pieces of plank, turned up in front like our stone-sledge, and perforated with holes underneath for holding the teeth. The teeth consisted of pieces of sharp basaltic rock about three inches long, and hardly less firm than iron itself. This machine is drawn over the grain by horses or oxen, and serves, together with the trampling of the feet of the animals, to beat out the kernels and cut up the straw preparatory to winnowing” (Illustrations of Scripture, p 161). The teeth were sometimes of iron. See Amos 1:33Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron: (Amos 1:3). The tribulum of the Romans resembled this instrument.
This instrument is still known in Egypt by the name of mowrej. It consists of three or four heavy rollers of wood, iron, or stone, roughly made and joined together in a square frame, which is in the form of a sledge or drag. The rollers are said to be like the barrels of an organ with their projections. The cylinders are parallel to each other, and are stuck full of spikes having sharp square points. It is used in the same way as the charuts. The driver sits on the machine, and with his weight helps to keep it down. This instrument is probably referred to in Proverbs 20:2626A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them. (Proverbs 20:26), where it is said, “A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.”
(It is proper to say that authorities are not agreed as to the difference between the charuts, the agalah, and the morag. In the above account we have endeavored, as far as possible, to harmonize the conflicting opinions of various expositors.)
4. The last mode of threshing referred to in the text is that of treading out the grain, for an explanation of which see note on Deuteronomy 25:44Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. (Deuteronomy 25:4) (#207).