Friday, July 31, 2020

All Our Seeds and Grains - Part I

It is understood that the Nephites, before leaving their home outside Jerusalem and going into the wilderness, gathered together their seeds. As Nephi said: “we had gathered together all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind, and also of the seeds of fruit of every kind” (1 Nephi 8). Mormon tells us that the Nephites had certain grains, including Barley, Wheat and Corn, when he wrote: “We began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley” (Mosiah 9:9).
    It should be noted that the distribution of several cereal and other crop progenitors, reported that these intersect in a small region of southeastern Turkey, near the claimed landing site of Noah’s Arc and the development of his settlement after landing.
    In addition, Lehi’s colony brought barley and wheat to the Land of Promise, and though they traveled some 8 years in the wilderness, they still had their seeds when they reached the Land of Promise.
As soon as they reached the Land of Promise they tilled the ground and planted all their seeds brought from Jerusalem

As Nephi states: “we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24, emphasis added). We also learn from Nephi that these seeds grew extremely well. ” And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24, emphasis added).
    Some of their seeds they brought were grains. As Mormon wrote: “And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits” (Mosiah 9:9, emphasis added).
Barley, then, is specifically mentioned by name as one of the cereals raised by Zeniff's colony (Mosiah 7:22) and apparently was a standard upon which the Nephite monetary system was based: "A senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain" (Alma 11:7;11:15). Interestingly, barley also appears to have been a standard for biblical monetary systems as well: "Two barley grains made a finger's breadth, 16 made a hand's breadth, 24 a span, and 48 were the biblical cubit—about 41 cm" (Leviticus 27:16; 2 Kings 7:1, 16, 18).
Barley crop

Western agriculture and its most important crop plants are thought to have originated in the Fertile Crescent, a geographical region extending from modern-day Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and western Syria into southeastern Turkey and along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers into Iraq and Iran.
    These plants included wild progenitors of modern cereal species, among them wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum), wild wheats (Triticum urartu, T. boeoticum, T. dicoccoides, Aegilops tauschii), and wild rye (S. vavilovii), intersect in this region.
    Barley was a founder crop (basic, staple crop) of Old World Neolithic 
food production and is still one of the main cereals cultivated in the 
Mediterranean agricultural belt. In the archaeological record, barley 
is commonly found with wheat. It appears to have been "the most 
abundant grain of the ancient Near East and the cheapest. It was 
the standard fare of the poor, the ration of the soldier, serf and slave, 
and the staff of life for the Greek peasantry.
    Michasel Zohary reports that barley is mentioned more than thirty 
times in the Bible and no fewer than thirteen timed in company with 
wheat. However, barley was considered inferior to wheat for human 
consumption and was less valued (Revelations 6:6). Consequently, it 
became the poor people's bread.
    The advantage barley has over wheat is that it will grow in relatively poor, salty, and arid soils in which wheat may not grow. Moreover, since barley ripens a month or more before wheat, it provided the first new flour each year, and in fact was apparently taken for the Omer.
The Passover meal in an ancient Jewish home

Offerings, סְפִירַת הָעוֹמֶר, at the Passover feast. This offering is an important verbal counting of each of the forty-nine days starting with the Sunday Wave Offering of a sheaf of ripe grain with a sacrifice immediately following the commencement רֵאשִׁית.
    For these reasons, even though wheat is more palatable, barley 
was perhaps a more important crop in ancient Israel. Jack Harlan
 observes that barley was apparently domesticated from its wild 
relative Hordeum spontaneum, commonly known as wild barley or 
spontaneous barley, is found today in southwestern Asia and was 
one of the earliest crops domesticated in the Near East. Wild
forms with fragile ears (seed heads) have been found in Syria 
and date to perhaps as early as 8000 BC. Similar remains have
been found in the southern Jordan highlands, dating to about
BC, and at Jarmo and the Zargos hills in Iraq around the same time.
    The first cultivated barley appears in Iran, Syria, Palestine, and 
Turkey at times ranging between 6000 and 7000 BC and is commonly
found with remains of other important crops such as emmer wheat, 
einkorn grain, flax, peas, and lentils. Irrigated barley was present by 
6000 BC and possibly earlier at Jericho. Zohary likewise concludes 
that the cultivation of barley appears to have begun about 8000 BC 
in southwestern Asia, where the wild progenitor of the two-rowed 
barley (Hordeum spontanum) is widespread. Later, the more advanced 
six-rowed primitive types of cultivated barley were derived under 
   The species of barley Lehi and his family would have known are 
limited. Eighteen species of barley are recognized today, but only 
two, Hordeum distichum (two-rowed barley), and H. hexastichum 
(six-rowed barley) have been cultivated.
    Barley ears have a unique structure. There are awns on the stem, 
which are the hair- or bristle-like appendage on a larger structure, 
and can contribute significantly to photosynthesis. The lemma is 
translucent and either the central or lateral spikelets may terminate 
 hood. They also contain triplets of spikelets arranged alternately 
on the rachis (axis of the barley ears containing spikelets). According 
to the morphology of the spikelets, barley under domestication can 
be divided into two principal types:
Two-rowed varieties of barley usually have a higher number of stem or tillers per plant and larger, heavier seed than six-rowed varieties. Six-rowed varieties on the other hand, usually have more seeds per inflorescence

Two-rowed forms, traditionally called Hordeum distichum L., in which 
only the median spikelet in each triplet is fertile and usually armed 
with a prominent awn (or beard—bristles that protrude upward 
from the spikelets). The two lateral spikelets are reduced, they are 
born on longer stalks and are grainless and awnless. Each ear thus 
contains only two rows of fertile spikelets.
Six-rowed forms, traditionally referred to as H. hexastichum L., in 
which the three spikelets in each triplet bear seeds and usually all 
are armed. Ears in these varieties therefore have six rows of fertile  
spikelets. Lehi and his family would probably have brought one or 
perhaps both of these barley species with them on their journey to 
the New World.
2. Corn/Maize. Although corn is a general term used to refer to grain 
or kernels of grain in the King James Version of the Bible (Genesis 41:5; 
Exodus 22:6; Isaiah 28:28),  when corn is referred to in the Book of 
Mormon (Mosiah 7:22; 9:9, 14), we assume that Joseph Smith was 
referring to maize or corn as it is known in America today and that 
the Prophet Joseph Smith was not using the term in the generic biblical 
sense. This is perhaps evidenced in Mosiah 9:9: "And we began 
to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of 
corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, 
and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply
and prosper in the land."
 Quinoa and kiwicha are two very important grains in Peru, which were unknown in the U.S. in Joseph Smith’s time
As previously mentioned, the appearance in this passage of the Nephite 
terms neas and sheum suggests that Joseph Smith was not familiar 
with the plants to which these two words referred and so he left the
terms in their original language. In contrast, he would have been 
amply familiar with wheat, barley, and maize, or "corn," as he would 
 have called it, and accordingly translated the Nephite terms for these 
grains into English.
     Maize is a New World plant first domesticated in the Americas, 
possibly in more than one area. It is generally believed that maize 
originated in Mexico and was domesticated from wild maize 
(teosinte) in south central or southwestern Mexico in semiarid 
regions at elevations above 4,500 feet. By comparison, the
following highest heights of the states within the Heartland 
and Great Lakes theories are: Illinois 1234 feet, Indiana 1257, 
Iowa 1670, Ohio 1549, Missouri 1772, Pennsylvania 3213, New
York 5344, Michigan 1979, Wisconsin 1951, Kentucky 4145, and 
Tennessee 6643. Two states are over 4500 feet necessary for the 
growth of Corn.
    New York’s mean elevation is 1000 feet, with one mountain range, 
 the Adirondack Mountains, at 5344 feet. It is located in the northeast 
corner of the state and not within the lands claimed to be the Land of 
Promise. Tennessee is also above the barley grain level, but city 
development is limited to 2418 feet. The height in Tennessee is 
limited to the southwestern corner of the state.
    Therefore, not a single state has a land level of development for 
planting that is anywhere near the 4500 feet level indicate being 
 where corn/maize originated (Christine A. Hastorf,   “Rio Balsas 
most likely region for maize domestication,” PNAS vol.106, no.13, 
March 2009, pp4957-4958; Anthoiny J. Ranere et al., “The cultural 
and chronological context of early Holocene maize and squash 
domestication in the Central Balsas River Valley, Mexico,” PNAS, 
vol.106, no.13, pp5014-5018; both articles Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff, 
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and
Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA, and approved January 23, 2009).
(See the next post, “All Our Seed and Grains – Part II,” for additional 
information regarding the seeds brought to the Land of Promise by Lehi)

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