As we learned on yesterday’s daf when the yovel was in force, someone who wanted to redeem an ancestral field that he consecrated to the Temple would value the field based on the Torah’s set price (see Vayikra 27:16) of 50 shekel of silver for the area of “the sowing of a ḥomer of barley.” (In times when the yovel is not in force, someone who consecrates his field to the Temple must pay the value of the field based on the prevailing prices of real estate.)
The Mishna on today’s daf teaches:
If a man consecrated his field at the time when the law of the Jubilee is in force, he must pay fifty shekels for every piece of field sufficient for the sowing of a ḥomer of barley. If the field contained crevices ten handbreadths deep or boulders ten handbreadths high, they are not included in the measure, but if less than this, they are included. If he consecrated it two or three years before the Jubilee, then he must pay one sela shekel and one pundeyon for each year.
The Gemara quotes a baraita to explain the term “the sowing of a ḥomer of barley.”
The baraita explains that this refers to the size of the area of a field in which a kor of seeds is planted, and not the size of the area of a field that produces a kor of grain, which would be a much smaller area. Furthermore, the method used for planting was mapolet yad (hand seeding) and not mapolet shevarim (seeding with oxen).
These two different methods of farming – mapolet yad and mapolet shevarim – represent the advancement of farming in the time of the Sages. Mapolet shevarim made use of a mechanism that held seeds and was attached to the plow so that the seeds were distributed directly as the plowing was done. While this method saved time and effort, a much larger amount of seeds was needed in order to reach the same level of produce as planting with the mapolet yad method.