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Agriculture

First mentioned in Gen. 4:2; some laws pertaining to it are found in Lev. 19:9–10, 19; 23:10–14, 22; 25:3–7, 11, 18–22; Deut. 24:19–22; 25:4; 26. Cultivation of the vine and olive, two of the most important products of Palestine, necessarily implies a settled life and could not be practiced by wandering tribes. In addition to the vine and olive, various kinds of cereal grains were extensively cultivated. The plowshare and the pruninghook together represent agriculture (Isa. 2:4; Joel 3:10). Among other implements of husbandry mentioned are the sickle, the threshing instrument, the winnowing shovel, and the winnowing fork. Grain was either simply parched (Ruth 2:14), pounded in a mortar (Prov. 27:22), or ground in a handmill made of two slabs of stone that were placed one upon another. The work of grinding was usually performed by slaves, often by female slaves, and hence came to be regarded as degrading (Judg. 16:21; Lam. 5:13). Thus Isaiah, addressing Babylon, bids her descend from the throne and grind meal (Isa. 47:2). Mention is also made of millstones (Matt. 18:6); large and heavy, they were turned by the use of animals. See also Rain.