Passover and the Barley Harvest

by Lorraine Day, M.D.

The three main feast days of Israel are each associated with a different harvest.  The barley ripens first around the time of Passover; the wheat ripens next around the time of Pentecost; and the grapes ripen last in the fall around the time of Tabernacles.

These three crops depict three classes of people.  The barley represents the overcomers; the wheat represents the rest of the believers; and the grapes represent the unbelievers.

The Barley Wave-Sheaf Offering

The wave-sheaf offering shortly after Passover was the firstfruits of the ripened barley that the priest offered to God in the early Spring.  It was always waved “on the morrow OF (NOT “after”) the Sabbath” at Passover (Lev 23:10-14).  This day is sometimes called the Feast of Firstfruits.  The Ascension of Jesus “on the morrow OF the Sabbath” is symbolized by the wave-sheaf offering. 

Seventh-day Sabbaths, AND Feast Day “Sabbaths” such as Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, began at sundown the evening before.  Jesus was crucified on Friday.  He died at 3:00 P.M. and His body was taken down off the Cross and placed into the tomb BEFORE sundown.  Sundown was the beginning of the Seventh-Day Sabbath, The Lord’s Day (Mark 2:28).

The “morrow OF the Sabbath” was the continuation of the Sabbath (that began on Friday night at sundown) meant the actual full day of the Seventh-day Sabbath, what we now term Saturday. 

The women came to the tomb on the morning OF the Sabbath (sabbaton – Sabbath - Saturday) and the tomb was already empty!  (See literal translation of these resurrection texts in “Was Jesus Really Resurrected on Sunday?” at  Jesus had already been resurrected.  He then appeared to Mary Magdalene in the area of the Garden Tomb on Sabbath (Saturday) morning, just before He was to ascend to His Father.  For Jesus told Mary Magdalene, “Do not detain Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father.” (John 20:17)

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.

The 7th plague was that of hail, which destroyed the barley and flax, but not the wheat and rye.  (This took place just prior to the Passover, which was the 10th plague.)  We read about the effects of the hail upon the barley in Egypt in Exodus 9:31,32.

And the flax and the barley were smitten, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was boiled.  But the wheat and rye were not smitten; for they were not grown up.

Overcomers are referred to as “Barley”

The three feasts of Israel, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles represent the three stages of salvation from justification to sanctification to glorification.

They also appear to reveal the nature and scope of the resurrections from the dead.  “Each crop represents a different class of people.  The barley, which ripens first, represents the overcomers of the first resurrection; the wheat, which ripens at Pentecost, represents the rest of the believers in general; and the grapes, which are trodden down at the end of the growing season, represent the unbelievers who are judged according to their works.”  The Barley Overcomers, by Stephen Jones, pg 10.

The Value of Barley

The first Scripture relevant to any study of barley is Leviticus 27:16.  It reads,

            “. . . an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.”

This is the value of barley in the eyes of God.  Fifty is the number of Pentecost and Jubilee.  Pentecost was to be celebrated on the 50th day; Jubilee in the 50th year.  Both are revelations of the outpouring of the Spirit of God.  Pentecost is the time when the earnest of the Spirit was poured out (Eph 1:14; 2 Cor 1:22 and 5:5).  The Jubilee signifies a greater outpouring, that is, the fullness of the Spirit. 

Thus, while Pentecost is a down payment of a Jubilee, or the promise of a Jubilee, both are depicted by the number 50.  The barley is valued at 50 shekels of silver, and this associates the barley with the outpouring of the Spirit, both in its earnest and its fullness.

This is consistent with the revelation of the overcomers who attain to the firsts resurrection; or, if they are alive at the end of the age, their “change” (transfiguration) without dying.  It is also consistent with the revelation of the “unleavened bread” at Passover and the flax (white linen – of righteousness) ripening at the same time, which is used in the priestly garments.  All of these details point to the fact that the barley company is raised first among God’s creatures.  James 1:18 says,

Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (“creation”).

In the book of Revelation, we are told of the 144,000 who sing a new song before the throne of God.  In Rev. 14:4, these are called “the Firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb”.  Firstfruits imply that a greater harvest is yet to come.”  Ibid. pg 11

Gideon; the Cake of Barley

Israel had been forced to pay tribute to the Midianites for 7 years.  When Israel finally repented and cried out to God for deliverance, God commissioned Gideon as a judge, or deliverer, to save Israel.  (Judges 6:8-10)

When Gideon finally mustered his army of 300 against the host of the Midianites, he wanted confirmation that this was not just his own carnal plan.  After all, the situation seemed hopeless.  So God told him to spy out the enemy camp to receive his confirmation.  Judges 7:13,13 says,

And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.

And his fellow answered and said, this is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; for into his hand hath God delivered Midian and all the host.

Thus, Gideon and his army represent the barley company, the overcomers who will inherit the promise of God at the end of this present age.  The manner in which Gideon’s army defeated the enemy tells us how the overcomers of today will receive the promise.

Each of the men in Gideon’s army was given a trumpet and a torch inside an earthen jar, or pitcher.  With little oxygen in the jar, the torches could only glow.  At the signal, they blew their trumpets and broke the jars, holding up the torches in the air, causing them to burst into flames.

The trumpet signifies the first resurrection of the dead at the Feast of Trumpets.  The torches within the pitchers signify the presence of God in our bodies, which are the earthen vessels.  At the appointed time, after blowing the trumpet for the first resurrection, these bodies of death will be broken, and the glory of God will burst into view, even as Jesus was transfigured before His disciples.

When Paul was expounding upon the transfiguration of Moses (2 Cor 3 & 4), he made reference to this battle of Gideon by saying in 2 Cor 4:6,7:

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Elisha Overcomes Death with Barley

Barley is a hardy plant that can withstand drought and extreme heat and cold.  So when the Scriptures talk of grain or meal in time of drought, it generally refers to barley, for wheat cannot grow under such severe conditions.  In this way barley is a very good symbol of the overcomer, who will flourish in “times of drought” in between revivals when the Spirit of God does not appear to be moving.

In contrast, the wheat company languishes when God seems to hide His face for a time.  Like Israel under Moses, they tested God by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex 17:7)  They do not understand that our faith is not tested while God is moving miraculously, but in those times when He is silent.  Thus, in the time of drought, the wheat dies.

There was a drought in the days of Elisha that teaches us more about the spiritual principles of barley.  2 Kings 4:38-41 says,

And Elisha came again to Gilgal; and there was a dearth (drought) in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.

And one went out into the field to gather herbs and found a wild vine and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full and came and shred them into the pot of pottage; for they knew them not.

So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out and said, O thou man of God, there is DEATH in the pot.  And they could not eat thereof.

But He said, Then bring MEAL.  And he (Elisha) cast it into the pot, and he said, Pour out for the people that they may eat.  And he cast it into the pot, and he said, Pour out for the people that they may eat.  And there was no harm in the pot.

Since this event occurred in a time of drought, the “meal” which they used was no doubt BARLEY.  (Wheat cannot withstand drought.)  And so the barley was used to overcome death.  It pictures resurrection of the dead.

Jesus Feeds the Multitude with Barley

In John, Chapter 6, Jesus fed the multitude with “five barley loaves and two small fishes.”  (John 6:9)

Vs 12  When they were filled, He said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost!

Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves that remained over and above them that had eaten.

The overcomers will inherit the first resurrection.  But first, they are the barley bread in Jesus’ hands that must be broken to feed the multitude.  It is not time to be victorious yet.  It is the time to die.  It is not yet time to enjoy a good reputation among the brethren, but to be made “of no reputation”  (Phil 2:7), following the path Jesus trod. 

The barley call is not only a call to righteousness, but to brokenness.  It is not a call, as yet, to victory, but to the despair of death.  It is not a call to the throne, but to the dungeon and the wilderness.  And when all self-righteousness is gone, when all impatience has run its course, then is death conquered by Life!


© Lorraine Day, M.D. 2006. All Rights Reserved.
This document cannot be reproduced in any form
except for downloading for personal use.

Return to Bible Study