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The process by which threshed grain is separated from chaff, the extraneous, nonedible stalks and husks (Ruth 3:2). In ancient Palestine, the threshed grain and chaff was mounded on a flat open surface, or piled on a cloth, a wide but shallow basket, or a sieve. It was then raked or thrown into the air, where the brisk afternoon wind removed the lighter chaff (Ps 1:4). The heavier grain dropped back to the ground and was gathered. The threshed and winnowed grain was then ready for use or storage in granaries. John the Baptist used the process of winnowing as a metaphor for divine judgment (Matt 3:12; Luke 3:17; Jer 15:7).

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