We have frequently had occasion to speak of corn in the course of these papers, but I have, however, never yet taken notice of the way of reaping it, which, according to an observation made by Mr. Maundrell, in his return from Jerusalem,1 is performed in the East, by plucking it up by handsful from the roots, leaving the most fruitful fields as naked as if nothing had grown there. This was their practice, he says, in all places of the East which he had seen, and from thence he concludes that our old version of Ps. xccix. 6, "Which withereth afore it be plucked up," in which there seems to be a manifest allusion to this custom, is better than our new translation.2
I cannot however, I confess, be of the opinion of this very ingenious author in this point: because the Hebrew word Plv shalaph which is commonly used for reaping, does by no means signify plucking up, but shortening, which is most naturally explained by cutting; and I have no where remarked the idea of plucking up, applied to the reaping of their corn, unless we are to understand the passage so, for the original word Plv shalaph, used by the Psalmist, appears no where else but in the sense of unsheathing a sword.
1 Page 144. [Henry Maundrell (1732), A Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, at Easter, A.D. 1697. 5th ed.]
2 [Which substitutes"afore it groweth up" for "afore it be plucked up"]