An important cereal crop that has long supplied man with a valuable item of diet and has at times, in recent years as anciently, been sold at a price double or triple that of barley. (Compare 2Ki 7:1, 16, 18; Re 6:6.) Wheat (Heb., chit·tahʹ; Gr., siʹtos), either by itself or mixed with other grains, was commonly made into bread. (Ex 29:2; Eze 4:9) This cereal could also be eaten raw (Mt 12:1) and was made into grits by crushing its kernels. Especially the green ears of wheat were prepared by roasting. (Le 2:14; 2Sa 17:28) Wheat was exacted as tribute from defeated tribes or nations (2Ch 27:5), and it figured in offerings made to Jehovah.—1Ch 23:29; Ezr 6:9, 10.
The plant itself, when young, resembles grass and is bright green. Mature wheat, however, may measure from 0.6 to 1.5 m (2 to 5 ft) in height and is golden brown. Its leaves are long and slender, and the central stem terminates in a head of kernels. One variety of wheat (Triticum compositum) cultivated in Egypt of old, and still encountered there, has several ears per stalk. (Compare Ge 41:22, 23.) The varieties of wheat that have been commonly cultivated in Palestine in more recent years, and likely also in Bible times, are bearded, that is, they have coarse, prickly hairs on the husks of the kernels.
True to God’s promise, the Israelites found Palestine to be a land of wheat and barley. (De 8:8; 32:14; Ps 81:16; 147:14) Not only did they have enough for themselves but they also were able to export grain. (2Ch 2:8-10, 15) In Ezekiel’s time, commodities from Judah and Israel, including “wheat of Minnith,” were being traded in Tyre.—Eze 27:17.
Wheat was sown in Palestine about the same time as the barley, in the month of Bul (October-November), after the early fall rains had sufficiently softened the soil for plowing. (Isa 28:24, 25) The wheat harvest followed the barley harvest (Ru 2:23; compare Ex 9:31, 32) and was closely associated with the Festival of Weeks, or Pentecost, in the month of Sivan (May-June), at which time two leavened loaves made of wheat flour were presented as a wave offering to Jehovah. (Ex 34:22; Le 23:17) After the wheat was threshed, winnowed, and sifted, it was often stored in underground pits, a practice perhaps alluded to at Jeremiah 41:8.
The Bible also makes illustrative reference to wheat. It is used to represent persons acceptable to Jehovah, “the sons of the kingdom.” (Mt 3:12; 13:24-30, 37, 38; Lu 3:17) Both Jesus and the apostle Paul mentioned wheat in illustrating the resurrection. (Joh 12:24; 1Co 15:35-38) And Jesus likened the test to come upon his disciples, as a result of the trials he was about to undergo, to the sifting of wheat.—Lu 22:31.