WHAT ARE “FITCHES?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
These appear four times in Scripture in three verses:
- “When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place?” (Isaiah 28:25).
- “For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod” (Isaiah 28:27).
- “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof” (Ezekiel 4:9).
One context clue is they are used in conjunction with various grains (“wheat,” “barley,” et cetera) and food in general (“beans,” “bread,” et cetera). Ezekiel was to use “fitches” as an ingredient in an “interesting” recipe for bread (see our related study linked at the end of this article).
“Fitches” are an herbaceous annual plant—the common name is “fennel” or “black cumin,” but the technical or scientific name is Nigella sativa—whose black seeds are used as a seasoning. The flavor is pungent or strong. It also has medicinal properties.