Help finding historical farming practices data

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Feb 11 2015 1:45 AM

I was in a picky mood when I read: "No farmer tries to retain and use the chaff because it is useless.'

Zuck, Roy B. Basic Bible Interpretation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth. Edited by Craig Bubeck Sr. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1991.

As any self-respecting farm kid would know, chaff can be used as animal fodder and mulch ... and farmers don't waste anything. So are there any sources detailed enough to show that the Israelites wasted chaff?

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 2:36 AM

I have not read the entries but perhaps something useful could be found there:

Interesting that chaff is a symbol of something worthless but "straw" is equated with fodder. If the chaff refers to the light stuff like husks, it would be of limited value as fodder or anything else (and difficult to gather up in a useful quantity). Straw on the other hand would presumably be obtained from the bindings of grain and cut before the process of removing husks (chaff) from grain.

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HJ. van der Wal | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 3:19 AM

Francis:

If the chaff refers to the light stuff like husks,

That is the question that came to my mind.

According to Gustaf Dalman's Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina (Volume 3, page 112) with the threshing method used in "modern day" Palestine the stalk is broken up in small pieces which are used as fodder:

Ziel und Wirkung dieser Dreschmethode, die mit der Schlegelmethode Deutschlands nicht zu vergleichen ist, besteht nicht nur in der Trennung des Korns von der Ähre, dessen Halm sonst unverändert bliebe, sondern zugleich in der Zerstückelung des Halms zu kleinen Teilen, die als Viehfutter dienen. Diese Wirkung wäre bei feuchter Luft unmöglich, sie vollzieht sich aber bei trockener Ostluft und Sonnenglut, welche für das Dreschen notwendige Voraussetzung sind (S. 75 f.), weil unter ihrem Einfluß die Getreidepflanze spröde und zerbrechlich geworden ist.

Wie Weizen (l;iaml,l, I,linta) und Gerste (sa1tr) werden auch Saubohnen (fül), Linsen ('adas), Knotenwicken (kirsenne), Griechenklee (I,lelbe) und Graserbsen (gilbäne) gedroschen, deren brauner Häcksel (tibnal,lmar) als Viehfutter nützlich ist.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 3:35 AM

Francis:

Interesting that chaff is a symbol of something worthless but "straw" is equated with fodder. If the chaff refers to the light stuff like husks, it would be of limited value as fodder or anything else (and difficult to gather up in a useful quantity). Straw on the other hand would presumably be obtained from the bindings of grain and cut before the process of removing husks (chaff) from grain.

Modern practice uses byproducts of the sugar industry (molasses) to add weight to the chaff or in combining captures the chaff within the straw. Certainly what the wind picks up is primarily chaff but it would have certainly settled around the threshing floor except on windy days. I don't know if they used the wind or fans for winnowing. And it may be that they used it as mulch by default rather than consciously and hence thought of chaff as "worthless".

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 3:42 AM

MJ. Smith:
Modern practice uses byproducts of the sugar industry (molasses) to add weight to the chaff or in combining captures the chaff within the straw. Certainly what the wind picks up is primarily chaff but it would have certainly settled around the threshing floor except on windy days. I don't know if they used the wind or fans for winnowing. And it may be that they used it as mulch by default rather than consciously and hence thought of chaff as "worthless".

The question is whether the biblical data warrants the notion that chaff was associated with worthlessness. To be driven by the wind may be a method used to get rid of husks and it symbolizes "what goes away" (Psalm 1) but the idea that the husk (not the wicked) is worthless does not necessarily follow. The chaff could both be driven by the wind (and so a suitable symbol) AND be collected for other use. Have you examined the relevant passages to see if there is a clear association with worthlessness or whether it is an inference that is not clearly supported anywhere?

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HJ. van der Wal | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 5:10 AM

I've found the relevant passage in Dalman (page 138-139). In contrast to straw/chaff (תֶּ֫בֶן) and straw stubble (קַשׁ) the chaff (מֹץ, aramaic ע֣וּר) was not used in ancient Israel. The Scripture passages he quotes are: Is. 29:5, Zeph. 2:2, Hos. 13:3, Ps. 1:4; 35:5, Job 21:18,Is. 17:13; Is. 41:15.

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 5:24 AM

H.-J.van der Wal:
The Scripture passages he quotes are: Is. 29:5, Zeph. 2:2, Hos. 13:3, Ps. 1:4; 35:5, Job 21:18,Is. 17:13; Is. 41:15.

None of these refer specifically to the idea of worthlessness.

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Charlene | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 7:57 AM

MJ. Smith:

I was in a picky mood when I read: "No farmer tries to retain and use the chaff because it is useless.'

Zuck, Roy B. Basic Bible Interpretation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth. Edited by Craig Bubeck Sr. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1991.

As any self-respecting farm kid would know, chaff can be used as animal fodder and mulch ... and farmers don't waste anything. So are there any sources detailed enough to show that the Israelites wasted chaff?

I would have to disagree with Zuck on this one. While living in Jerusalem, I taught some lectures for the University of the Holy Land dealing with the land, nature, and society of Biblical times. One of the best books that deals with your question (among many other things) is "Agriculture in the Iron Age" by Oded Borowski. Unfortunately Logos does not offer it. This would be a great addition to the Logos resources. I did find out that the article on Agriculture in the ABD was written by Borowski, but he doesn't deal with it in as much detail as he does his book.

Also I did a quick search on chaff in my resources and saw among other things that chaff was used in the chaff/straw fodder for the animals as well as the roofing material of the houses  In silos found at Megiddo, remains of chaff and straw were found. It may have also been used in pig fodder, etc., etc., etc.!

I only looked at a few of my resources, but there were over 5000 articles with chaff mentioned! Big Smile

.

 

Charlene

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 11:43 AM

Pliny, in his Natural History (free in the Perseus Collection), notes some practical uses for chaff:

"Cato says: ‘You can make manure of stable-litter, lupines, chaff, bean-stalks and holm-oak or oak leaves.'"

Pliny the Elder, Natural History: Books XVII–XIX, trans. H. Rackham, vol. 5, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press; William Heinemann Ltd, 1961), 39.

"The more careful growers recommend that the ground should be turned up five times before putting in the turnip, and four for rape, care being taken, in both cases, to manure it well. Rape, they say, will thrive all the better, if it is sown together with some chaff."

"The smoke, too, of burning chaff will be an effectual protection against the effects of fogs, when likely to be injurious."

Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, ed. John Bostock (Medford, MA: Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, 1855), 4101.

The New Unger's Bible Dictionary says:

"The 'refuse of the wheat' (Heb. mapāl; Amos 8:6) was the waste, the chaff, which was sold to the poor by their rich oppressors."

Merrill Frederick Unger et al., The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988).

NAC elaborates on that:

"Putting chaff and trash with good grain to sell to desperately hungry poor people was the ultimate in greed."

Billy K. Smith and Franklin S. Page, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, vol. 19B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 146.

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 11:55 AM

MJ. Smith:
As any self-respecting farm kid would know, chaff can be used as animal fodder and mulch ... and farmers don't waste anything. So are there any sources detailed enough to show that the Israelites wasted chaff?

I know (by reputation) of someone who might be a good resource. Gary Derickson of Corban College has an undergraduate degree in Agriculture. 

http://inside.corban.edu/personnel/gary-w-derickson 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 11 2015 12:55 PM

Thank you all. I've learned much ... including the placement of Zuck on my precise & accurate scale.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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abondservant | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 12 2015 11:22 PM

The foxfire books may be a good refutation of that - not from bible times... But from a primitive American perspective. I haven't read this topic specifically, but, they make use of EVERYTHING in that book - nothing seems to be wasted. Would be surprised if they didn't have a use for chaff as well.

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