Barley (Hordeum) – John 6:8-13 , Numbers 5:15
Coarse Barley bread was a common staple of lower class people in Palestine. Finer textured wheat bread was eaten by the wealthy. These loaves were a humble gift from this poor lad. In Judges 7:13, the Midianite soldier dreamed of a loaf of barley bread felling the camp of the Midianites. The dream was correctly interpreted to prophesy that the Israelites (despised as eaters of barley bread), under Gideon’s leadership, would defeat Midian. Barley is the first grain harvested, and it was probably a barley field where Ruth gleaned. The Jewish spring feast of First fruits is on the 16th of Nissan. The Lord’s acceptance of their barley offering signified his pledge of a later full harvest. Symbolically, the feast of First fruits pictures Christ’s resurrection which occurred on the Feast of First fruits. His resurrection is the promise to believers that our bodies will be resurrected in the future. See 1 Corinthians 15:20.
Brambles (Blackberries) – Numbers 33:55
There are a variety of plants known as brambles. What they have in common is flowers, edible fruit, and a thicket type of growth with thorns. They are easily grown and seem to love the most worthless plot of ground – like ditches. Their fruit can be eaten naturally or made into jam or jelly. Once established they are hard to eliminate from a garden, hence the warning from God.
Date Palm – John 12:13
The Date Palm grew in oases in Sinai and the warmest parts of Palestine. It is very tall, has a thick trunk, huge leaves, and produces Dates. It became one of Israel’s national symbols. Its leaves were the branches people carried when Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Jericho was known as the city of Palm Trees. This Palm tree inspired the stone carvers of many ancient buildings.
Gall (Poppy) – Hosea 10:4
The bold watermelon pink colored flowers of this plant appear in springtime on what is also called the opium poppy. The gall in the vinegar offered to Jesus on the cross is believed to have come from the seeds of this plant. It is a reseeding annual whose seeds are held in a hard capsule and thrown, when fully dry, to the ground for next year.
Grape Vine – Song of Solomon 2:15
Grapes and their vines were common imagery for Hebrew people in scripture. Grapes symbolize abundance and prosperity. In Micah 6:15, the withholding of wine is punishment for sin. The Nazarites self-denial of grapes and the products of grapes is because joy is associated with grapes. In Isaiah 5, God uses a poor vineyard to picture a wayward Israel. In Revelation 14, grapes will be thrown into the winepress of God’s judgment and wrath. Grapes were eaten fresh, dried as raisins, as juice, and as fermented juice (wine). Grapes grow on climbing vines. They require the care of a gardener to prune, feed, water, control mildew, mulch, and train the runners.