Dr. Pococke has made a remark, which I have observed in no other traveller* and that is, that there is a double seed time and harvest in Egypt: rice, Indian wheat, and another sort that produces a large cane, and has an ear like millet, which they call the corn of Damascus, and in Italian, surgo rosso, being sown and reaped at a very different time from wheat, which in that country, it seems, is all bearded, barley, and flax. "The first," he says, "are sown in March, before the Nile overflows the lands, and reaped about October; whereas, the wheat and barley are sown in November and December, as soon as the Nile is gone off, and they are reaped before May."
Dr. Shaw seems not to have been aware of this, for he supposes that rice was sown at the same time with flax, wheat, and barley;§ yet it seems natural, that as wheat and barley are sown as soon as the inundation is over, and reaped before it returns, so likewise that those sorts of grain that require much water, should be sown before it begins, and be reaped just as it finishes. And though I have met with no direct observation of this kind,** yet Norden confirms one part of it: for he tells us, that he saw a great plain covered with Turkey wheat the twentieth of November, which began to be ripe; and that he saw the Arabs cutting their harvest in a neighboring plain the twenty ninth of that month.
If then this is fact, it will explain very determinately what is meant by the wheat and rye's being dark, or hidden, at the time of the plague of hail, Exod. ix.32; for it must mean, that they were sown, but not come up, contrary to the opinion of Dr. Shaw, who supposes that the expression imports, that they were of a dark green, and consequently yielded without hurt, while the barley and the flax, being more forward, were destroyed.
This will show also what the wheat was that, being hidden in the earth, escaped: it was Indian wheat, or surgo rosso, which sorts of wheat with the rye§§ escaped; while the barley, and wheat bearded like barley, and the flax, were smitten.
* It is to be met with in Thomson's Travels, vol. 3, p. 308, 309; but it is supposed there really was no such traveller, and that the book was a mere compilation from others.
The text says July, but it appears from the errata, March was the month he intended.
Vol. 1, p. 204.
§ Page 406, 407.
** Pococke's account has since been confirmed by Hasselquist, who found the rice, at Assotta, about three inches high the thirtieth of May, N. 8 p. 54. He indeed tells us, it had been sown but eight days before; but this must certainly have been a mistake, perhaps it should have been eight weeks. He elsewhere mentions the same month that Pococke does, as the time for reaping it, that of October.
Part 2, p. 17, and p. 36.
Or rice, according to Dr. Shaw, p. 407. Hasselquist however makes no doubt, but that the Egyptians learned the cultivation or rice under the Khalifs, at which time, he says, many useful plants were brought over the Red Sea to Egypt, which now grow spontaneously there, and enrich the country, p. 109, 110. this may be left to the curious to examine, it being of no consequence to my design here to examine, whether rice, or the corn of Damascus, or some other plant of importance to human life, was meant; it being sufficient to observe, that some sorts of farinaceous plants were then but just sown, while others were drawing to maturity.
Thomas Harmer, Observations on Various Passages in Scripture, &c.1814 American edition, Vol. iv.
This page is by James Eason.