How did the Israelites harvest wheat in biblical times?

During springtime, the ancient Israelites harvested wheat and barley. This season was a time of hard work, community involvement, and celebration. Read about the harvesting process below.

The process started with the warm spring air helping the wheat and barley grow tall and turn golden. Farmers used sickles, which are curved blades, to cut the stalks. This was hard work, usually done in groups. Everyone, including men, women, and sometimes children, pitched in. They cut the stalks close to the ground and tied them into bundles.

These bundles were then taken to a threshing floor, a flat, open space often on a hilltop to use the wind for the next step. Here, the Israelites used a method called threshing to separate the grains from the stalks. They spread the bundles out and animals, like oxen, were led over them to break the stalks and release the grains.

After threshing, the grains and chaff (the husks and stalks) were mixed together. To separate them, they used a process called winnowing. They would toss the mixture into the air with shovels or forks, and the wind would blow away the lighter chaff, while the heavier grains fell back to the ground.

The grains were then collected and stored. This harvest was essential for food, such as bread, and it was a time of thankfulness. The Israelites celebrated with festivals like the Feast of Shavu'ot. Learn more about the harvest season in The Story of Ruth Activity Book


  1. What tool did the farmers use to cut wheat and barley?
  2. How did the oxen help to separate the grains from the stalks?
  3. Why did the farmers throw the wheat up in the air? 

The story of Ruth Activity Book

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