|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
28:23-29 The husbandman applies to his calling with pains and prudence, in all the works of it according to their nature. Thus the Lord, who has given men this wisdom, is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in his working. As the occasion requires, he threatens, corrects, spares, shows mercy, or executes vengeance. Afflictions are God's threshing instruments, to loosen us from the world, to part between us and our chaff, and to prepare us for use. God will proportion them to our strength; they shall be no heavier than there is need. When his end is answered, the trials and sufferings of his people shall cease; his wheat shall be gathered into the garner, but the chaff shall be burned with unquenchable fire.
Verse 25. - When he hath made plain the face thereof; i.e. leveled it - brought the ground to a tolerably even surface. Doth he not cast abroad the fitches? The Hebrew word translated "fitches" - i.e. "vetches" - is qetsach, which is generally allowed to represent the Nigella sativa, a sort of ranun-cuhs, which is cultivated in many parts of the East for the sake of its seeds. These are black, and have an aromatic flavor. Dioscorides (3:83) and Pliny (19:8) say that they were sometimes mixed with bread. And scatter the cummin. "Cummin" (Cuminum sativum) is "an umbelliferous plant, something like fennel." The seeds - or rather, berries - have "a bitterish warm taste, with an aromatic flavor" ('Dict. of the Bible,' vol. 1. p. 372). They seem to have been eaten as a relish with various kinds of food. And cast in the principal wheat; rather, and put in wheat in rows. Drill-ploughs, which would deposit grain in rows, were known to the Assyrians ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 198). And the rie in their place. Cussemeth, the word translated "rie," is probably the Holeus sorghum, or "spelt," which is largely cultivated in Palestine and other parts of the East, and is the ordinary material of the bread eaten by the poorer classes (see the 'Pulpit Commentary' on Exodus, pp. 219, 220). For "in their place," Kay translates, "in its own border." The wheat and the barley and the spelt would all be sown separately, according to the direction of Leviticus 19:19, "Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
When he hath made plain the face thereof,.... By harrowing it, after it is ploughed:
doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin; in sowing them in the ground, prepared for them; the former of these does not seem to be the same we so call, but something else. The Septuagint version calls it the little "melanthion" (c), the same with the "nigella" (d) of the Latins, and is sometimes called "gith" (e), as in the Vulgate Latin version here. The Syriac and Arabic versions render it "anise", which is mentioned along with "cummin", as common with the Jews, and which, in Christ's time, were tithed, Matthew 23:23 and both these in the text are by Kimchi said to be the food of man:
and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rye in their place? each in their proper place, or in soil suitable for them; some land being more suitable for the one than for the other, which the husbandman understands: "wheat" is the choicest and most excellent grain, and therefore called "principal"; or else because it is "first" sown, or sown in the best and "principal" ground: "barley" is said to be "appointed", or to be sowed in a place appointed for it; or "marked" (f), referring either to places marked in the field, where it should be sown; which sense the Targum and the Jewish commentators favour; or to sacks of it marked, in which the best seed for sowing was put: "and the rye in its border" (g); appointed for that Jarchi thinks this refers to the different places of sowing; the wheat was sown in the middle of the field; barley round about the mark or sign for that purpose; and rye upon the borders. The Targum is,
"as wheat is sown in an uncultivated field, and barley by the signs, and rye by the borders;''
but the whole is intended to express the wisdom of the husbandman, in sowing different seeds, not in the same field, which was forbidden by the law, Leviticus 19:19 but in ground suitable to each of them; and in the mystical sense designs the execution of divine judgments on men, in proportion to their sins, after they have been admonished of them, and reproved for them; and may be applied also to the sowing of the seed of the word in the hearts of men, and illustrated by the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:19.
(c) So Junius & Tremellius, and Piscator. (d) As here with Pagninus, Montanus. (e) So Vatablus and Castalio. (f) "hordeum signatum", Vatablus, Pagninus, Montanus; "signato loco", Tigurine version. (g) "speltam in termino ejus, vel suo", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
25. face—the "surface" of the ground: "made plain," or level, by harrowing.
fitches—rather, "dill," or "fennel"; Nigella romana, with black seed, easily beaten out, used as a condiment and medicine in the East. So the Septuagint, "cummin" was used in the same way.
cast in … principal wheat—rather, plant the wheat in rows (for wheat was thought to yield the largest crop, by being planted sparingly [Pliny, Natural History, 18.21]); [Maurer]; "sow the wheat regularly" [Horsley]. But Gesenius, like English Version, "fat," or "principal," that is, excellent wheat.
appointed barley—rather, "barley in its appointed place" [Maurer].
in their place—rather, "in its (the field's) border" [Maurer].
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