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About the word…
“rye” in the Bible

also known as: rie (obsolete spelling)

Hebrew: כֻּסְּמִים —transliteration: kussemeth

True rye (Secale cereale) is a cereal grain and a type of grass, native to Turkey (central and eastern) and adjacent areas. It can be used to make flour, beer, etc. It has the advantage of being able to grow in poorer soils than most other cereal grains.

The King James Version translation mentions “rye” in Exodus 9:32 and Isaiah 28:25. In both cases, the margins of the Authorized and of the Revised King James Versions have “spelt.” The New King James Version says,

“But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.” —Exodus 9:32 NKJV

“…The barley in the appointed place, And the [a]spelt in its place?” —Isaiah 28:25 NKJV

The original Hebrew word in these texts is kussemeth. This Hebrew word also occurs in Ezek. 4:9, where the King James Version has “fitches” and the Revised King James Version “spelt.”

This, there can be no doubt, was the Triticum spelta, a species of hard, rough-grained wheat also called dinkel wheat or hulled wheat. Common wheat is Triticum aestivum.

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Article Version: March 13, 2018