Daily Archives: May 20, 2011

Fields white for harvest

Many biblical accounts contain information not easily understood without some knowledge of the history and culture of the time. Such is true in the account of Jesus traveling through Samaria in John 4. You probably recall that He met the woman of Samaria when she came to the well to draw water.

While His disciples were in the city buying food Jesus taught the Samaritan woman. She then went into the city and began to tell the men that she had met this man who knew her intimate life.

When the disciples returned to Jesus He said,

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. (John 4:35 ESV)

This is one of those statements with a literal meaning as well as a spiritual one. What did he mean by four months? Four months separate the sowing and the harvesting. Barley harvest could begin around April 15. Wheat harvesting begins six weeks later in late May or early June. In May the fields would be white unto harvest. This helps to date the episode in John 4 to December or January, depending on whether the crop was barley or wheat.

When Jesus said the fields were white for harvest He was speaking of a spiritual harvest. The disciples did not know that He and the woman had already sowed the seed. They would reap the harvest. It is not inappropriate to see the harvesting in the two days Jesus stayed there teaching (John 4:39-43), or in the later events of Acts 8:39-43.

The photo below was made from En-Dor, looking north to Mount Tabor. The wheat fields are almost ready for harvesting.

Wheat ready for harvest at En-Dor near Mount Tabor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Wheat ready for harvest at En-Dor near Mount Tabor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Under some light the fields even have a white appearance, as you see in the photo below.

Wheat ready for harvest near En-Dor and Mount Tabor. May 13. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Wheat white for harvest. May 13. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

These little tips, scattered here and there in Scripture, reveal much about the daily life and culture of Bible times.