Notes Chickpea

The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.

Isaiah 30:24 (KJV)

And the oxen and the asses that till the ground will eat salted provender, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork.

Isaiah 30:24 (RSV)

And the cattle and the full-grown asses cultivating the ground will eat fodder seasoned with sorrel, which was winnowed with the shovel and with the fork.

Isaiah 30:24 (NWT)

Provender, perhaps a mistranslation, was mentioned six times in the Bible (KJV). In my first Medicinal Plants of the Bible, I did not include the chickpea; none of the scholars I had read seemed to stress that as a possibility. Since then, however, I have read that the word provender of the Bible might better have been translated as hummus, and indeed may have been the chickpea. And yes, the leaves of the provender are eaten, more by animals than by humans. But humans do ingest cooked young leaves like spinach. According to Zohary, the biblical hamitz, cognate with the Arabic humus and the Aramaic himtza, means chickpea, and today himtza is modern Hebrew for chickpea ("The RSV translation as 'provender' is mistaken.")(ZOH). I will accept Zohary's conclusions and include chickpea. But there are still version variations; it is "clean" in KJV, it is "salted" in RSV, and "seasoned with sorrel" in NWT (Zohary did not index Rumex = sorrel in ZOH, but lists more than 15 varieties and species of Rumex in FP1). Chickpea, apparently, was originally domesticated in Turkey and some neighboring countries. It has been found in pre-pottery Neolithic levels of some prehistoric sites, in Early Bronze Age deposits of Jericho, in Iraq, as well as elsewhere. Earliest records are from Turkey "dating from 5000 BC" (ZOH). Allegedly, the cicer of the Romans, Horace referred to parched seed as food for the poor. Supposedly cultivated in Egypt since the earliest times of the Christian era, it was perhaps considered common and/or unclean (DEP). Today, I believe that chickpea was one of several pulses, including Pisum, Vicia, even Trigonella (if you consider that a pulse) already cultivated in the biblical world in biblical times, more than 2000 years ago.

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