As in ancient times, so to-day barley (Arabic sha'ir) is the most plentiful cereal of Palestine. It is the chief food of horses (1Ki 4:28), mules, and donkeys, oats being practically unknown. It is still used by the poor for making bread (Jg 7:13; Joh 6:9,13 etc.) in the villages, but not in the cities. Barley was the special ritual offering for jealousy (Nu 5:16). The barley harvest (Ru 1:22) precedes that of wheat: it begins around Jericho as early as March, and in Jerusalem and the neighbourhood at the end of May.
E. W. G. Masterman.