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Have you signed the census, yet?

Shalom, welcome weary traveler. Have you journeyed far?

Do not forget to pay your taxes.

I have seen the Roman soldiers carrying off those who refused to pay their taxes. Beware of the Roman soldiers they are in a foul mood this night.

Keep your valuables and children close to you. There are rumors that the Romans sell small children to the Phoenicians as slaves.

I do not know the answer to that question. Perhaps the rabbi would know. He is in the synagogue and is a wise and learned man. Or maybe the scribe, he can read and write in four languages

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Background on grains of Biblical times:

Method of measuring grain. In selling grain in Bible lands it is the custom that each measure must run over. Likewise such liquids as oil or milk should run over a small amount into the buyer's vessel. A bushel measure is used for measuring the grain. As this measure begins to be full to the brim, the grain is pressed down, and then two or three shakes are given from side to side to settle the grain. The man who is doing the measuring then puts more grain on top, and repeats the shaking process until the measure is actually full clear to the brim. He then presses gently on the grain and makes a small hollow place on top and taking additional handfuls of grain he makes a cone on the surface. He builds up the cone until it can hold no more, some of it beginning to run over. Following this the grain is emptied into the buyer's container. Such is Oriental measure.

JESUS said, "Give, and it shall be given you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38). The word translated "bosom" means "lap," it is not in his bosom but in the skirt of his garment that there is ample room, and there the Oriental carries his grain, like a woman among us might carry things in her folded apron.

Grains and bread[edit]

Durum wheat was the wheat most commonly grown in ancient Israel

Grain products comprised the majority of the food consumed by the ancient Israelites. The staple food was bread, and it was such a vital part of each meal that the Hebrew word for bread, lehem, also referred to food in general. The supreme importance of bread to the ancient Israelites is also demonstrated by the fact that Biblical Hebrew has at least a dozen words for bread, and bread features in numerous Hebrew proverbs (for example, Proverbs 20:17, Proverbs 28:19).[14][17] Bread was eaten at just about every meal, and is estimated to have provided from 50 to 70 percent of an ordinary person’s daily calories. The bread eaten until the end of the Israelite monarchy was mainly made from barley flour; during the Second Temple period, bread from wheat flour become predominant.[12][14]

Porridge and gruel were made from ground grain, water, salt and butter. This mixture also formed the basis for cakes, to which oil and fruits were sometimes added before baking.[18]

The Israelites cultivated both wheat and barley. These two grains are mentioned first in the biblical list of the Seven Species of the land of Israel and their importance as food is also seen in the celebration of the barley harvest at the festival of Shavuot and of the wheat harvest at the festival of Sukkot.[10]

Rice was introduced during the early Second Temple period through contact with the Persians. By the Roman period, rice had become an important export, and the Jerusalem Talmud states about rice that “there is none like it outside Israel,” and that notable rabbis served rice at the Passover seder.[7][19]


Barley was the grain most commonly used to make into flour for bread in Iron Age Israel.

Barley (hordeum vulgare) was the most important grain during the biblical period, and this was recognized ritually on the second day of Passover in the Omer offering, consisting of barley flour from the newly ripened crop. Furthermore, its significance to Israelite society, not only as a source of food, is illustrated by the biblical method for measuring a field by the amount of barley (rather than of wheat) with which it could be sown.[20]

Barley was initially predominant because it matured earlier and tolerated harsher conditions than wheat, growing in areas with less rainfall and poorer soils, such as the northern Negev and the hill country.[10] It had a high yield potential and was resistant to insect infestation. It could be sown without plowing, and could therefore be grown on small plots of land that oxen or even donkeys could not reach, and it did not need artificial irrigation. It ripened a month earlier than wheat and was thus available to replenish supplies used up during the winter sooner than wheat, and also provide some food security if the more vulnerable wheat crop was poor or failed.[20]

Two varieties of barley were cultivated: two rowed and sixed rowed. Two rowed barley was the older, hulled form; six rowed barley was unhulled and easier to thresh, and since the kernels remained intact, store for longer periods. Hulled barley was thus the prevalent type during the Iron Age, but gruels made from it must have had a gritty taste due to the barley’s tough outer layers.[20]

Bread was primarily made from barley flour during the Iron Age (Judges 7:13, 2 Kings 4:42), as barley was more widely and easily grown, and was thus more available, cheaper, and could be made into bread without a leavening agent[4] even though wheat flour was regarded as superior.[10] It was presumably made from dough that was a simple mixture of barley flour and water, divided into small pieces, formed by hand into round shapes and then baked.[20]

However, barley declined as the staple from the biblical period, to a poverty food by the end of the Second Temple period, and by the Talmudic era it was regarded mostly as animal fodder.[20]


Emmer wheat (triticum dicoccum) was initially the most widespread variety of wheat, as it grew well in the warm climate and was resistant to fungal rot. It was high yielding, with large grains and relatively high amounts of gluten, and bread made from emmer wheat flour was thus fairly light in texture. However, emmer required time-consuming pounding or roasting to remove its husk, and during the Iron Age, durum wheat (triticum durum), a descendent of emmer, gradually replaced emmer and became the favored grain for making fine flour. Durum grew well in the rich soil of the larger valleys of the central and northern areas of the country, where rainfall exceeded 225 millimeters per year, was higher yielding than emmer, and its grains released more easily from the chaff. It could therefore be separated from the husk without roasting or pounding first, thus reducing the work required for threshing, and also leaving most of the grains whole, which was better for longer storage.[10][21]

However, durum is a hard grain and was difficult to grind with the early hand-held grindstones. The flour also had to be sifted repeatedly to obtain fine flour (such as the solet required in the Temple offerings). Thus, durum was primarily used for porridges, or parboiled and dried, or roasted and boiled, and barley flour continued to be used for making bread, until another hybrid of emmer, common or “bread” wheat (triticum aestivum) replaced barley as the primary grain after the Greek conquest of the land of Israel and, together with durum wheat, became widespread during the Greco-Roman period, constituting the bulk of the grain crop by the end of the Second Temple period. The introduction of common wheat, which contained more starch and had a higher level of gluten, spread the use of wheat for bread-making and led to the production of loaves that were more lightly textured than barley and durum wheat breads.[22]

Preparation of grains[edit]

A series of developments in technology for threshing, milling and baking improved both the quantity and the quality of the grain and the means for preparation that were available, from the beginning of the Iron Age until the end of the Second Temple period:

In the early Iron Age, grain was threshed to remove it from the stalks by beating it with sticks or by oxen treading on it. This usually broke most of the grain kernels, which limited their storage time because broken kernels spoil more quickly than unbroken ones. The development of the threshing-board, which was pulled over the stalks by oxen, left most of the grain kernels intact and enhanced their storage time. Numerous threshing floors and threshing boards have been discovered at archaeological sites of ancient Israel.[6]

Once separated from the stalks, the grain was used in a number of ways: Most simply, unripe kernels of grain were eaten fresh, particularly in the spring, before ripe grain was available, and both unripe and ripe grain was roasted over fire for immediate use. Ripe grains of wheat were also parboiled and dried, like modern bulgur, and then prepared as porridge. Whole or cracked grain was also used to make gruel and in stews. Most frequently, grains were ground into flour to prepare bread.[4][17]