Notes Wheat

And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.

Genesis 41:5 (KJV)

And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk.

Genesis 41:5 (RSV)

However he went back to sleep and dreamed a second time; and here there were seven ears of grain, coming up on one stalk, fat and good.

Genesis 41:5 (NWT)

FIGURE 1.113 Wheat (Triticum aestivum). Source: BIB.

The biblical term "corn" is synonymous with grain; it does not refer to Indian maize, but usually to wheat, the most common cereal. Corn in those days often included as a mixture peas, beans, lentils, cumin, barley, millet, and spelt. Egypt was the chief granary of the Roman empire. As late as 1952, Moldenke and Moldenke say, "Even today Arabia imports all its wheat from Egypt, and the caravans which leave Egypt for the Red Sea are laden with precious wheat." In my first biblical book (BIB), I acceded to the Moldenkes and figured that wheats (Triticum aestivum) and spelts

(Triticum spelta) were what was intended in the biblical passages on corn and wheat. As so often, Israeli botanist Michael Zohary rather refutes those possibilities. Yes, it was wheat, but tetraploid durum wheat, Triticum durum, and emmer, Triticum dicoccum, rather than Tricitum aestivum or Triticum spelta. The latter do not even grow in Israel (ZOH). So what? From a medicinal point of view, they are pretty much equally good or bad (if you have celiac). Zohary adds that the two tetraploids were abundantly cultivated in Israel and vicinity, the durum wheat still dominant in Israel agriculture. Not only were these free wheats (free meaning without hull) important in bread (although rich in gluten), but also offered to God in tribute as, for example, the Showbread wheat (Hebrew hittah), probably included in the general terms bar (Genesis 41:49), dagan (Numbers 18:27), and kamah (Judges 15:5), as well as avur, carmel, geresh, and omer, scattered throughout the Old Testament. Zohary concluded that the ancestral species was Triticum dicoccoides, also native to Israel. "Domestication of wheat ... took place about 8000 years ago in one or more of the most primitive agricultural villages of the Assyrian mountains (Jarmo in Iraq), and probably in the Land of Israel as wel." (ZOH).

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