It was during the planting of oats that the harrow came into play in the spring. First the ground was turned over by the single bottom plow pulled by our new 1949 Allis Chalmers tractor. Today, the tractor, which replaced our ancient Fordson, appears to be little more than a garden tractor. In the second, step we used a spring tooth “drag” to even out the furrows. The third step was loading the “drill’ boxes with oats seed and fertilizer and planted. Then came the last step, the harrowing. The harrow had spikes which when drug over the field would smooth out the final clods of dirt.
However, the word “harrow,” was also used to describe Jesus’ descent into hell between his crucifixion and resurrection. In the Apostles Creed we confess, “He descended into hell…” This is based on I Peter 3:18-19, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison.”
One of the interpretations of this passage is that Jesus went into “hell” to plunder or pillage hell of the souls of the righteous Old Testament believers.
An Easter Carol from the fourteenth century tells us of Christ,
Who baffled death and harrowed hell
And led the souls that love him well
All in the light of lights to dwell.
Most scholars interpret Jesus’ descent into hell as an occasion when he proclaimed his victory to those who had rejected him as Messiah and Savior.
I suspect that our harrow on the farm hasn’t been used for several decades. The “harrowing of hell” is also a concept fallen by the wayside.