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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
שערה , Exodus 9:31; Leviticus 27:16 , &c; a well- known kind of grain. It derives its Hebrew name from the long hairy beard which grows upon the ear. Pliny, on the testimony of Menander, says that barley was the most ancient aliment of mankind. In Palestine the barley was sown about October, and reaped in the end of March, just after the passover. In Egypt the barley harvest was later; for when the hail fell there, Exodus 9:31 , a few days before the passover, the flax and barley were bruised and destroyed: for the flax was at its full growth, and the barley began to form its green ears; but the wheat, and more backward grain, were not damaged, because they were only in the blade, and the hail bruised the young shoots which produce the ears.
The rabbins sometimes called barley the food of beasts, because in reality they fed their cattle with it. 1 Kings 4:28; and from Homer and other ancient writers we learn, that barley was given to horses. The Hebrews, however, frequently used barley bread, as we find by several passages of Scripture: for example, David's friends brought to him in his flight wheat, barley, flour, &c, 2 Samuel 17:28 . Solomon sent wheat, barley, oil, and wine, to the labourers King Hiram had furnished him, 2 Chronicles 2:15 . Elijah had a present made him, of twenty barley loaves, and corn in the husk, 2 Kings 4:22 . And, by miraculously increasing the five barley loaves. Christ fed a multitude of about five thousand, John 6:8-10 . The jealousy-offering, in the Levitical institution, was to be barley meal, Numbers 5:15 . The common mincha, or offering, was of fine wheat flour, Leviticus 2:1; but this was of barley, a meaner grain, probably to denote the vile condition of the person in whose behalf it was offered. For which reason, also, there was no oil or frankincense permitted to be offered with it. Sometimes barley is put for a low, contemptible reward or price.
So the false prophets are charged with seducing the people for handfuls of barley, and morsels of bread, Ezekiel 13:19 . Hosea bought his emblematic bride for fifteen pieces of silver, and a homer and a half of barley, Hosea 3:2 .
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Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Barley'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/b/barley.html. 1831-2.