To Plough; To Plow

Concise Bible Dictionary:

Woman plowing near Hebron. Dec. 8th, 1937
Besides the literal signification of breaking up the ground for tillage, this term is employed figuratively; as “plotting” wickedness (Job 4:88Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. (Job 4:8); Hos. 10:1313Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. (Hosea 10:13)). Israel, speaking of the trials they had passed through, say, “The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows” (Psa. 129:33The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows. (Psalm 129:3)). It is doubtless typical of the treatment which the blessed Lord received when on earth, especially His being scourged.

“317. Plowing” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

The Eastern plow is a rude affair, far inferior to the one in use in our country. It does not enter deep into the soil, and is of very light and simple construction, sometimes being made merely of the trunk of a young tree having two branches running in opposite directions. There are many plows, however, not quite so primitive in structure as this. See note on Isaiah 2:44And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4) (#482). Some of them have one handle and some have two handles, and they are usually drawn by two oxen. The plowmen often plow in company. Dr. Thomson says he has seen more than a dozen plows at work in the same field, each having its plowman and yoke of oxen, and all moving along in single file. Anderson makes a similar statement. We can thus see how Elijah “was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him.” He had not, as some have imagined, twenty-four oxen yoked to a single plow, but there were twelve plows in a file, each having its own oxen and plowman, and he was “with the twelfth”; that is, he had charge of the last plow in the file.

“766. Guiding the Plow” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

The Eastern plow is of very rude and simple workmanship. See note on 1 Kings 19:1919So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. (1 Kings 19:19) #(317). It is evident from the text that in our Lord’s time the plow usually had but one handle, and many such plows are still seen. One hand guides the plow, while the other holds the long goad (see note on Judges 3:3131And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel. (Judges 3:31), #225) by which the oxen are spurred on to their work. The plow being light, it is necessary for the plowman to lean forward with all his weight on the handle to keep the share in the ground. Many commentators suggest that by looking back the laborer would be unable to make straight furrows. This is true; but it is also true that he could not make any furrow at all, and this fact must not be overlooked in considering the figure used by our Lord in the text.

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