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winnowing fork

A hand device used by the farmer to throw the mix from his shredded pile of grain and straw into the air to let the wind carry the straw and chaff away and the grain fall back for collection (Isa 41:16). Such fine separation of straw and chaff from the kernels of wheat became a metaphor for the punishment of Jerusalem by God (Jer 15:7; Matt 3:12; Luke 3:17). In the final stages the grain would be thrown up into the breeze by shovel, the breeze carrying off the last of the chaff and leaving the grain ready for sifting and the removing of pebbles by direct hand inspection.

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.