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Updated on December 2, 2014


Barley is the second of the seven species of food given to the Israelites when they reached the Promised Land. It is a grain cultivated in Israel. "For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey" (Deut. 8:7-8)

"It is a land the Lord careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year" (Deut.11:12).

Barley bread was used by the poorer people (Judg 7:13; 2 Kings 4:42) and was usually the food of horses (1 Kings 4:28). Barley was ready to be harvested by the time of the Passover in the middle of April (Ruth 1:22; 2 Sam. 21:9). Jesus Christ fed five thousand with five barley loaves and two fishes (John 6). There must be some significant in the using of the barley loaves of bread. In Biblical times, the people ate barley bread, but now barley is replaced with wheat.

In biblical times barley was the poor-man’s staple - eaten as porridge and barley cakes. Cattle and other livestock were also fed barley. Today, the grain has become a marginal culinary ingredient used in soups and stews. Barley’s most common modern use in Israel is as the basic ingredient for beer, sold locally in bottles and cans and served in pubs from the barrel.



The seven species of food symbolize the close relationship between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.

  • Rimon Season (pomegranate)—September/October—Rosh HaShanah/Yom Kippur/Sukkot
  • Tamar Season (date/honey)—September/October—Rosh HaShanah/Sukkot
  • Zayit Season (olive)—November/December—Hanukkah
  • Te’ena Season (fig)—January/February—Tu B’Shevat
  • Gefen Season (vine, grape)—March—Purim
  • Wheat and Barley Season—April/May/June—Passover/Shavuot

Passover/Shavuot Wikipedia

The date of Shavuot is directly linked to that of Passover. The Torah mandates the seven-week Counting of the Omer, beginning on the second day of Passover and immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the Giving of the Torah. On Passover, the Jewish people were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.

Tje Passover
Tje Passover



Re-Accept the Torah
The Torah was given by G‑d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than 3300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot we renew our acceptance of G‑d's gift and G‑d "re-gives" the Torah. The word Shavuot means "weeks." It marks the completion of the seven week counting period between Passover and Shavuot. The giving of the Torah was a far-reaching spiritual event—one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul for all times. Our Sages have compared it to a wedding between G‑d and the Jewish people. Shavuot also means oath and on this day G‑d swore eternal devotion to us, and we in turn pledged everlasting loyalty to Him.


Barley (in Hebrew, se’ora)

Question: What does barley represent (e.g. tzadik, knowledge, new beginnings, prosperity for Israel, the Torah, mitzvot, hope, beauty, etc.)?

(Several answers are possible, among others that barley represents a new beginning.)

Text 36. When a man sees barley in a dream, it is a sign that his iniquities are removed, for is said, “Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Isaiah 6:7). R. Zera said: I did not decide to go up from Babylonia to the Land of Israel until I saw Barley in a dream.

Brachot 57A

Text 37. When the barley is quite gone from the jar, strife comes knocking at the door. Baba Metzia 59a (Sefer Hahagadah, p293 #501)

Two Fish and five barley loaves
Two Fish and five barley loaves


Miracle of Loaves and Fishes (Why Barley?)

by: Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

"This Sunday, the Church has put together readings to bring out connections that many of us would fail to see without a little help. Just about every Christian has heard the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, in fact numerous times. But we’ve probably overlooked the fact that they were barley loaves. What significance could that have?

Plenty. First of all, someone in the Old Testament had multiplied loaves, and they too were barley loaves. Elisha was the successor of Elijah, the greatest of all the prophets. Elijah had multiplied flour and oil to save a widow and her son from starvation. Elisha did a bit better than his master, multiplying 20 barley loaves so as to feed 100, with some even left over. But in the Gospel, Jesus multiplies 5 barley loaves and feeds 5,000, leaving 12 baskets left over. We’re talking serious one-upmanship here.

So here’s one clear message: Jesus is a prophet greater than even Elijah and Elisha.

But there is someone else who is referenced here, though you have to look a bit harder to see him. Did anyone else in the Old Testament provide bread for God’s people in the wilderness? Of course! Moses and the manna. What is the symbolic number associated with Moses? There are five books of Moses which are called the Torah or Pentateuch. No wonder Jesus starts with five barley loaves. He is transforming the Mosaic Law into something much bigger, greater, and more nourishing. Moses predicted that God would raise up a prophet like himself (Deut 18:18). The people got the point–Jesus had to slip away to avoid them making him king (Jn 6:14-15).

But let’s get back to those barley loaves. There is even more symbolism here to probe. Barley is the first grain to be harvested in the Spring, and the feast of unleavened bread celebrates the first fruits of the barley harvest. Jesus performs this miracle as Passover approaches, and will go on later in John 6 to explain that he himself is the bread of life. The miracle of the loaves points backwards to great events in the Old Testament to give us clues as to who Jesus really is. But it also points forward to the future, to what Jesus will do in the upper room on the night before he died and which will made present again in every Eucharist. The people recline where there is much grass, verdant pastures (Psalm 23), and the Good Shepherd, after giving thanks (eucharistia in biblical Greek) feeds them with rich fare that causes their cup to run over with blessings of not only earthly satisfaction, but eternal life.


God's Kingdom Ministries

Chapter 2

The Barley Harvest

Each of the three main feast days of Israel, which we have already discussed briefly, are associated with different harvests. The barley ripens first around the time of Passover; the wheat ripens later around the time of Pentecost; and the grapes ripen last just prior to the feast of Tabernacles.

These three crops depict three classes of people, as we will show soon. The barley represents the overcomer; the wheat represents the Church; and the grapes represent the unbelievers. There is a profound revelation in each of these crops, but our present study will focus on just the first one, barley.

The Barley Wave-Sheaf Offering

The wave-sheaf offering shortly after Passover was the first fruits of the barley that the priest offered to God in the early spring. It was always waved “on the day after the Sabbath” after Passover (Lev. 23:11). This day is sometimes called the feast of the first fruits or the counting of the omer.

Barley was the first crop to ripen in the spring in Canaan and Egypt. In fact, the Hebrew month of Abib (“green ears”) has direct reference to the ripening of barley in that month. On the first day of that month, the priest would inspect a sheaf of barley to see if it had “eared out” yet. If so, it was announced to all the people that Passover would be observed in Jerusalem two weeks later. If the barley grain was still closed, with the grain covered by the husk, the priest would announce that they would have to wait another month before Passover could be observed lawfully.

In such a case, a thirteenth month would be added to the previous year, rather than starting the new year with that month. Lunar months are only 29 1/2 days long, so 12 lunar months only covered 354 days. Thus, in order to keep pace with the seasons and the solar cycles, the Hebrews would add a reset month every two or three years. The earing of the barley determined whether that month was to be a 13th “reset” month or the first month of the new year.

This was also important, because it retained the symbolism of Israel’s feast days. Passover signified the death of the lamb and had prophetic reference to the crucifixion of Jesus. The wave-sheaf offering signified resurrection from the dead, for on this day Jesus was raised. Thus, the people could not lawfully observe the Passover unless the barley was eared out, for this signified newness of life.

Jesus presented Himself before His Father in the heavenly Temple at the time the priest waved the barley sheaf in the earthly temple. The waving motion, up and down, signified resurrection. Though Jesus had actually been raised from the dead “very early in the morning” (Luke 24:1), He did not allow Mary to touch Him prior to the wave-sheaf offering (John 20:17). Not until the wave-sheaf offering was Jesus declared legally alive in the court of heaven.


Before Ruth, the Moabitess turned to the God of Israel, it is not specified if she believed in the true God, Only when Naomi, her mother-in-law wanted to return to Israel did she profess her devotion to God. Probably, that was her starting point from being a Moabitess to become an Israelite.

Ruth did not labour too long in gleaning the barley by following the workers in Boaz's field. She returned to Israel during the beginning of the harvest and by the end of the harvest, Boaz had asked for her hand. in marriage. Boaz was an influential man and he could choose to marry any Israelite maiden, but he chose to marry Ruth, a widow of Moabite descendants. God chose Ruth because of her devotion to the God of Abraham.

Thus Ruth became an ancestress of David, king of Israel from which the Messiah was born of the house of Judah. God works in mysterious ways. Barley was the first crop of spring and the Israelites were thankful for the new beginning in the Land of Promise.


Passover in 2010 will start on Tuesday, the 30th of March and will continue for 7 days until Monday, the 5th of April.

In the Jewish calender, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Jews will celebrate Passover on the sunset of Monday, the 29th of March.

Barley Soup - YouTube

Barley Soup - YouTube

► 5:47► 28, 2009 - Uploaded by AboutEatingThis barley soup starts with a bit of bacon for flavor and texture and adds some won... ...

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Do you know that Jesus performed the miracle of feeding 5000 with 5 barley loaves and 2 fishes?

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Do you know that the waving motion, up and down of the barley bread signified resurrection?

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Do you know that barley represents knowledge, new beginnings, prosperity for Israel, the Torah, mitzvot, hope, beauty, etc.?

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© 2010 einron


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    • einron profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      trinity 92

      It is interesting what you wrote. In Elisha's case, the loaves were multiplied 5 times to feed a hundred men while Jesus was able to

      to multiply the loaves of 5 into 1000 times. There is no comparison

      between the two.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I read II Kings 4: 42-44 and John 6: 1-15. In studying the various insights, I decided to look up what exactly BARLEY LOAVES mean - its significance and nutritional value. (Elisha received 20 loaves and multiplied it for a 100 men and Jesus took 5 loaves and multiplied them for 5000 people). What I read from your post is very educative and has opened my understanding in deeper levels of expounding scripture. God bless you.

    • einron profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA


      Thank you for commenting! Glad you learnt a lot from the hub.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I had a dream of so much Barley harvest, made some wine and I could not get drunk out of it. I was so much rained on in the dream.

      Your teaching about the barley harvest is teaching me a lot.

    • einron profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      Thanks Quill for your comments and appreciate what you said about the hard work. We must work hard for the Lord.

      Peace and blessings.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub and very informative...thank you for all the hard work...


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You know I'm book marking this. It is amazing how much information there is on each of the 7 species. This work you're doing when completed is going to be a wealth of information that little is known about. God is awesome, and I love your photos!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You know I'm book marking this. It is amazing how much information there is on each of the 7 species. This work you're doing when completed is going to be a wealth of information that little is known about. God is awesome, and I love your photos!


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