No description of the plow ("maḥareshet") is found in the Bible; but it may be assumed with certainty that the implement resembled, on the whole, the very simple plow which is still used by the fellahs of Palestine. It consists of a long pole with a wooden crosspiece at the lower end, and a handle parallel to the latter at the upper end, by means of which the plow is guided. The wooden foot ends in an iron share, slightly convex above, being 34 cm. long and 18 cm. wide at the back. This point has to be sharpened occasionally (comp. I Sam. xiii. 20). It is uncertain whether the "et" mentioned in the passage just cited is a different kind of plow from that described above; Fr. Delitzsch takes "et" to be the plowshare, which cuts the furrows, while the plow itself casts up the earth. As the fellahs generally do not remove the stones from the fields, thinking that the soil thereby retains the moisture for a longer period, that kind of plow is not wholly impractical, since it may readily be drawn through the stony soil. Moreover, this plow is easily used, being light enough to be lifted out of the furrow with one hand and to be replaced in the same way. Its disadvantage is that it does not plow deeply enough—only about 8 to 10 cm.—the land being therefore neither sufficiently utilized nor properly freed from weeds. As a consequence the latter grow rankly, and the grain requires additional handling before it can be used or brought to market.
The plow was drawn, as it commonly still is today, by a yoke of oxen, and on light soil by an ass (Isa. xxx. 24, xxxii. 20); but the yoking together of ox and ass, which is not seldom seen to-day, was forbidden, at least at the time of the Deuteronomist (comp. Deut. xxii. 10). The ox walks in front of the plow, usually in the yoke which is attached to the beam. To-day the yoke is fastened to the neck of the animal in such a way that the two blocks of wood which extend on each side of the neck from the yoke downward may be fastened at the lower end by a rope and the ox's neck be enclosed in aframe. The plower holds in his right hand the plow-handle and the guiding-rope, and in his left the ox-goad ("malmad"; Judges iii. 31; I Sam. xiii. 21). To one end of the latter is attached an iron point, with which the oxen are goaded to quicken their pace, and to the other end is fastened a small iron shovel which is used to remove the earth clinging to the plowshare.
In ancient times, as to-day, it was doubtless hardly sufficient to plow the fallow land once only, but it had to be gone over three times. The first plowing (in the winter) was followed by a second (in the spring), and a third (in the summer); the careful husbandman even plowed a fourth time (late in the summer). After the plow had turned the soil over, the latter was made smooth by a harrow, which perhaps consisted merely of a strong board or a roller (Hos. x. 11; Isa. xxviii. 4).
- Z. D. P. V. ix. 24 et seq.