During this week we discussed the Seven Species, named in Hebrew ‘Shivat HaMinim.’ The Seven Species are seven agricultural products − two grains and five fruits − that are listed in the Hebrew Bible as being special products of the Land of Israel and were given to Israel as a gift and a blessing by God upon entering the land after its long exile.
“A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil, and honey”
For thousands of years, the Seven Species have played an important role in the food of Jews in Israel and the religious traditions of Judaism. For example, it is traditional to decorate the Sukkah (a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot) with the Seven Species. It is also traditional to eat the Seven Species during the Tu Bishvat holiday. This name means “the 15th of the month of Shvat, on which day Jews celebrate the ‘New Year of the Trees.’”
In the next few weeks, we’ll go through the Hebrew names of fruit and vegetables that are mentioned in the Bible. Our word today is the second of the Seven Species, ‘se•o•ra,’ barley.
Se•o•ra, barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain. It was one of the first cultivated grains and is now grown widely. It was used in the biblical era as a grain from which bread was made, and later in history, was eaten widely by peasants in Medieval Europe. Barley has also been used as animal fodder, as a source of fermentable material for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods. It is used in soups and stews, and in the barley bread of various cultures. Barley grains are commonly made into malt in a traditional and ancient method of preparation.