|Noah Webster's Dictionary|
(n.) Plural of Sheaf.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
shef, shevz ('alummah, `omer, `amir): When the grain is reaped, it is laid in handfuls back of the reaper to be gathered by children or those who cannot stand the harder work of reaping (Psalm 129:7). The handfuls are bound into large sheaves, two of which are laden at a time on a donkey (compare Nehemiah 13:15). In some districts carts are used (compare Amos 2:13). The sheaves are piled about the threshing-floors until threshing time, which may be several weeks after harvest. It is an impressive sight to see the huge stacks of sheaves piled about the threshing-floors, the piles often covering an area greater than the nearby villages (see AGRICULTURE). The ancient Egyptians bound their grain into small sheaves, forming the bundles with care so that the heads were equally distributed between the two ends (see Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, 1878, II, 424; compare Joseph's dream, Genesis 37:5-8). The sheaves mentioned in Genesis 37:10-12, 15 must have been handfuls. It is a custom in parts of Syria for the gatherers of the sheaves to run toward a passing horseman and wave a handful of grain, shouting kemshi, kemshi (literally, "handful"). They want the horseman to feed the grain to his horse. In Old Testament times forgotten sheaves had to be left for the sojourner (Deuteronomy 24:19); compare the kindness shown to Ruth by the reapers of Boaz (Ruth 2:7, 15).
Figurative: "Being hungry they carry the sheaves" is a picture of torment similar to that of the hungry horse urged to go by the bundle of hay tied before him (Job 24:10). The joyful sight of the sheaves of an abundant harvest was used by the Psalmist to typify the joy of the returning captives (Psalm 126:6).
James A. Patch
Sheaves (13 Occurrences)
Genesis 37:7 for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and behold, your sheaves came around, and bowed down to my sheaf." (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Ruth 2:7 She said,'Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.' So she came, and has continued even from the morning until now, except that she stayed a little in the house." (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ruth 2:15 When she had risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, "Let her glean even among the sheaves, and don't reproach her. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Nehemiah 13:15 In those days saw I in Judah some men treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys therewith; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day in which they sold food. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Job 5:26 You shall come to your grave in a full age, like a shock of grain comes in its season. (See NIV)
Job 24:10 So that they go around naked without clothing. Being hungry, they carry the sheaves. (WEB JPS ASV NAS RSV NIV)
Psalms 126:6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed for sowing, will certainly come again with joy, carrying his sheaves. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Psalms 129:7 with which the reaper doesn't fill his hand, nor he who binds sheaves, his bosom. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Jeremiah 9:22 Speak, Thus says Yahweh, The dead bodies of men shall fall as dung on the open field, and as the handful after the harvester; and none shall gather them. (See RSV)
Jeremiah 50:26 Come ye against her from every quarter, open her storehouses; pile her up like sheaves, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left. (DBY)
Amos 2:13 Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves. (KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV)
Micah 4:12 But they don't know the thoughts of Yahweh, neither do they understand his counsel; for he has gathered them like the sheaves to the threshing floor. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Zechariah 12:6 In that day I will make the chieftains of Judah like a pan of fire among wood, and like a flaming torch among sheaves; and they will devour all the surrounding peoples, on the right hand and on the left; and Jerusalem will yet again dwell in their own place, even in Jerusalem. (WEB JPS ASV NAS RSV NIV)