Plants in the Bible
FREE Catholic Classes
When Moses spoke to the people about the Land of Promise, he described it as a "land of hills and plains" ( Deuteronomy 11:11 ), "a good land, of brooks and of waters, and of fountains: in the plains of which and the hills deep rivers break out: a land of wheat, and barley, and vineyards, wherein fig-trees and pomegranates, and oliveyards grow: a land of oil and honey" ( Deuteronomy 8:7-8 ). This glowing description, sketched exclusively from an utilitarian point of view, was far from doing justice to the wonderful variety of the country's productions, to which several causes contributed. First the differences of elevation; for between Lebanon, 10,000 feet above sea level, and the shores of the Dead Sea, 1285 feet below the Mediterranean, every gradation of altitude is to be found, within less than 200 miles. Sinuous valleys furrow the highland, causing an incredible variation in topography; hence, cultivated land lies almost side by side with patches of desert. The soil is now of clay, now of clay mixed with lime, farther on of sand; the surface rock is soft limestone, and basalt. In addition to these factors, variations of climate consequent on change of altitude and geographical position cause forms of vegetation which elsewhere grow far apart to thrive side by side within the narrow limits of Palestine. The vegetation along the west coast, like that of Spain, southern Italy, Sicily, and Algeria, is composed of characteristic species of Mediterranean flora. Near the perennial snows of the northern peaks grow the familiar plants of Alpine and sub-Alpine regions; the highlands of Palestine and the eastern slopes of the northern ranges produce the Oriental vegetation of the steppes; whereas the peculiar climate conditions prevailing along the Ghôr and about the Dead Sea favour a sub-tropical flora, characterized by species resembling those which thrive in Nubia and Abyssinia.
Over 3000 species of Palestinian flora are known to exist, but the Holy Land of our day can give only an imperfect idea of what it was in Biblical times. The hill-country of Juda and the Negeb are, as formerly, the grazing lands of the Judean herds, yet groves, woods, and forest flourished everywhere, few traces of which remain. The cedar-forests of Lebanon had a world-wide reputation ; the slopes of Hermon and the mountains of Galaad were covered with luxuriant pine woods; oak forests were the distinctive feature of Basan, throughout Ephraim clumps of terebinths dotted the land, while extensive palm groves were both the ornament and wealth of the Jordan Valley. The arable land, much of which now lies fallow, was all cultivated and amply rewarded the tiller. The husbandman derived from his orchards and vineyards abundant crops of olives, figs, pomegranates, and grapes. Nearly every Jewish peasant had his "garden of herbs", furnishing in season vegetables and fruits for the table, flowers, and medicinal plants. Only some 130 plants are mentioned in Scripture, which is not surprising since ordinary people are interested only in a few, whether ornamental or useful. The first attempt to classify this flora is in Gen., i, 11-12, where it is divided into: (1) deshe, signifying all low plants, e.g., cryptogamia; (2) ‘esebh, including herbaceous plants; (3) ‘es peri, embracing all trees. In the course of time, the curiosity of men was attracted by the riches of Palestinian vegetation; Solomon, in particular, is said to have treated about the trees (i.e., plants) from the lofty cedar "unto the hyssop that cometh out of the wall" ( 1 Kings 4:33 ). Of the plants mentioned in the Bible , the most common varieties may be identified either with certainty or probability; but a large proportion of the biblical plant-names are generic rather than specific, e.g., briers, grass, nettles, etc.; and just what plants are meant in some cases is impossible to determine, e.g., algum, cockle, gall, etc. A complete alphabetical list of the plant-names found in the English Versions is here given, with an attempt at identification.
Acacia. See Setim .
Acanth. See Brier .
Algum (A. V., 2 Chronicles, 2:8; D. V., 9:10, 11, "thyme trees", "fir trees"; written "almug" in AV.,1 Samuel 10:11-12 ). No doubt the same tree is signified, the double name being due to a mere accidental transposition of the letters; if linguistic analogy may be trusted in, almug is correct (cf. Tamil, valguka). The algum tree is spoken of as a valuable exotic product imported to Palestine by Hiram's and Solomon's fleets ( 1 Kings 10:11 ; 2 Chronicles 2:8 ; 9:10 ), suitable for fine joinery and making musical instruments ( 1 Kings 10:12 ; 2 Chronicles 9:11 ). Josephus (Ant., VIII, vii, 1) says it was somewhat like the wood of the fig tree, but whiter and more glittering. According to most modern scholars and certain rabbis, the red sandal-wood, Pterocarpus santalina, is intended, though some of the uses made of it appear to require a stouter material. The identification proposed by Vulg. (see Thyine ) is much more satisfactory.
Almond tree,Hebrew luz ( Genesis 30:37 ; "hazel" in A. V. is a mistranslation; cf. Arab. laux ), apparently an old word later supplanted by shaqed ( Genesis 43:11 ; Numbers 17:8 ; Ecclesiastes 12:5 ); which alludes to the early blossoming of the tree. Almonds are ( Genesis 43:11 ) considered one of the best fruits in the Orient, and the tree, Amygdalus communis, has always been cultivated there. Several varieties, A. orientalis, Ait., or A. argentea, A. lycioides, Spach, A. spartioides, Spach, grow wild in districts such as Lebanon, Carmel, Moab.
Almug. See Algum .
Aloes (Proverbs 7:17 ; Song of Songs 4:14 ; John 19:39 ; A. V., Psalm 45:8 ) is reckoned among "the chief perfumes". In A. V., Num. xxiv, 6 ("lign aloes"; D. V., "tabernacles" is an erroneous translation), a tree is clearly intended. The officinal aloes, Liliacea, is not alluded to; the aloes of the Bible is the product of a tree of the genus Aquilaria, perhaps A. agallocha, Roxb., a native of northern India ; at a certain stage of decay, the wood develops a fragrance well known to the ancients (Dioscorides, i, 21), and from it a rare perfume was obtained.
Amomum ( Revelation 18:13 , neither in the Greek New Testament, Vulg., A. V., nor D. V., but found in critical editions, such as Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Nestle), a perfume well known in antiquity (Dioscor., i, 14; Theophr., "Hist. plant.", ix, 7; "De odor.", 32; etc.). The Assyrian variety was particularly prized (Virg., Eclog., iv, 25; Josephus, "Ant.", XX, ii, 3; Martial., "Epigr.", vii, 77; Ovid, "Heroid.", xxi, 166; etc.), and probably obtained from Cissus vitignea, a climbing plant native of India but found also in Armenia, Media, and Pontus (Pliny, "Nat. hist.", xii, 13).
Anise (Matthew 23:23 ), not the anise, Pimpinella anisum, but rather the dill, Anethum graveolens, shabath of the Talmud, shibith of the Arabs, is meant. Dill has always been much cultivated in Palestine; its seeds, leaves, and stems were subject to tithe, according to Rabbi Eliezer (Maasaroth, 1:I; cf. Matthew 23:23 ), which opinion, however, others thought excessive (Schwab, "Talmud de Jerus.", III, 182).
Apple tree, Heb., thappuakh (cf. Arab, tiffah ; Egypt. dapih, "apple") and the description of the tree and its fruit indicate the common apple tree, Malus communis, which is beautiful, affording shade for a tent or a house (Cant., ii, 3; viii, 5), and bears a sweet fruit, the aroma (Cant., vii, 8) of which is used in the East to revive a fainting person (cf. Cant., ii, 5). Apple groves flourished at an early date (Ramses II) in Egypt (Loret, "Flore pharaonique", p. 83); place-names like Tappuah ( Joshua 12:17 ) or Beth-tappuah (A. V., Joshua 15:53 ) indicate that they were a distinct feature of certain districts of Palestine.
Arum. See Cockle.
Ash Tree. Is., xliv, 14 (A. V. for Heb., ’oren ; D. V. "pine") depicts a planted tree, watered only by rain, whose wood is suitable to be carved into images and useful as fuel ( Isaiah 44:15 ). Probably the tree intended is Pinus pinea, the maritime or stone pine, rather than the ash, as the various species of Fraxinus grow only in the mountains of Syria, outside Palestine.
Aspalathus (Ecclus., xxiv, 20; Greek, xxiv, 20; D. V. "aromatical balm") is quite frequently alluded to by ancient writers (Theognis Hippocrates, Theophrastes, Plutarch, Pliny etc.) as a thorny plant yielding a costly perfume. It is impossible to identify it withcertainty, but most scholars believe it to be Convolvulus scoparius, also called Lignum rhodium (rose-scented wood).
Aspen. See Mulberry .
Astragalus a genus of Papilionaceous plants of the tribe Lotea, several species of which yield the gum tragacanth ( Hebrew nek’oth , Arab. neka’at ) probably meant in Genesis 37:25 ; 43:11 (D.V. "spices"; "storax"). In 2 Kings 20:13 , and Isaiah 39:2 , Hebrew nekothoth has been mistaken for the plural of nek’oth and mistranslated accordingly "aromatical spices"; A.V. and R.V. give, in margin, "spicery"; A. V. "precious things" is correct. The gum spoken of in Gen. was probably gathered from the species found in Palestine, A. gummifer, A. rousseaunus, A. kurdicus, A. stromatodes.
Balm,Balsam, the regular translation of Hebrew çori ( Genesis 37:25 ; 43:11 ; Jeremiah 8:22 ; 46:11 ; 51:8 ), except in Ezech., xxvii, 17 ( Hebrew pannag ) and Ecclus., xxiv, 20a (Greek ’aspalathos , see Aspalathus ); xxiv, 20b (Greek sm&úrna ). The çori is described as coming from Galaad ( Jeremiah 8:22 ; 46:11 ) and having medicinal properties ( Jeremiah 51:8 ). It is obtained from Balsamodendron opobalsamum, Kunth., which is extant in tropical regions of east Africa and Arabia and yields the "balm of Mecca "; and Amyris gileadensis, a variety of the former, which gave the more extravagantly prized "balm of Judea ", and is now extinct; it was extensively cultivated around the Lake of Tiberias , in the Jordan Valley, and on the shores of the Dead Sea (Talm. Babyl. Shabbath, 26 a ; Josephus, "Ant.", IX, i, 2; Jerome, "Quæst in Gen.", xiv, 7; Pliny, "Nat. hist.", xii, 25, etc.). The word çori is also applied to the gum from the mastic tree, or lentisk ( Pistacia lentiscus, cf. Arab. daru ), and that from Balanites ægyptica, Del., falsely styled "balm of Galaad". The meaning of pannag, mentioned in Ezech., xxvii, 17, is not known with certainty ; modern commentators agree with R. V. (marginal gloss) that it is "a kind of confection".
Balsam, Aromatical. See Aspalathus .
Barley ( Hebrew se’orah, "hairy", an allusion to the length of the awns) was cultivated through the East as provender for horses and asses ( 1 Kings 4:28 ), also as a staple food among the poor, working men, and the people at large in times of distress. The grain was either roasted ( Leviticus 2:14 ; 2 Kings 4:43 ) or milled, kneaded and cooked in ovens as bread or cake. Barley, being the commonest grain, was considered a type of worthless things, hence the contemptuous force of Ezech., xiii, 19; Judges, vii, 13; and Osee, iii, 2. Hordeum ithaburense, Boiss., grows wild in many districts of Palestine; cultivation has developed the two ( H. distichum ), four ( H. tetrastichum ), and six-rowed ( H. hexastichum ) barley. The harvest begins in April in the Ghôr, and continues later in higher altitudes; a sheaf of the new crop was offered in oblation on the "sabbath of the Passover ".
Bay tree, so A. V. in Ps. xxxvii, 35; D. V. (xxxvi) "Cedar of Libanus", which renderings are erroneus. The correct meaning of the Heb. text is: "as a green tree", any kind of evergreen tree, "in its native soil".
Bdellium ( Genesis 2:12 ; Numbers 11:7 ), either a precious stone or the aromatic gum of Amyris agallochum, a small resinous tree of northern India, found also, according to Pliny, in Arabia, Media, and Babylonia.
Beans ( 2 Samuel 17:28 ; Ezekiel 4:9 ), the horse-bean ( Faba vulgaris ; cf. Hebrew pol and Arab. ful ), an ordinary article of food, extensively cultivated in the East. The string-bean, Vigna sinensis, kidney-bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, and Phaseolus molliflorus, also grow in Palestine.
Blackthorn. See Bur .
Blasting. See Mildew .
Borith, a Heb. word transliterated in Jer., ii, 22, and translated in Mal., iii, 2 by "fuller's herb" (A. V. "scap").St. Jerome in his Commentary on Jer., ii, 22, identifies borith with the "fuller's weed", which was not used, like the Dipsacus fullonum, Mill., to dress cloth, but to wash it; St. Jerome adds that the plant grew on rich, damp soil, which description applies to a species of Saponaria ; yet many modern scholars think he refers to some vegetable alkali procured by burning plants like Salsola kali and the Salicornias ( S. fructicosa; S. herbacea ) abundant on the coast.
Boxthorn. See Bramble .
Box tree ( Isaiah 41:19 ; 60:13 ; in D. V., Ezekiel 27:6 , instead of "ivory and cabins", we should read: "ivory inlain in boxwood"), probably the Hebrew the’ashshur . The box tree does not grow in Palestine, and indeed the Bible nowhere intimates this, but it mentions the box tree of Lebanon, Buxus longifolia, Boiss., and that imported from the islands of the Mediterranean.
Bramble, translated fromHebrew ’atad in Judges, ix, 14-15, also rendered "thorn", in Ps. lvii, 10. The Latin version has in both places rhamnus, "buckthorn"; of which several species grow in Palestine and Syria, but Arabic writers hold that the various kinds of Lycium or boxthorn are meant.
Briers. (1)Hebrew kharul rendered "burning" in D. V., Job, xxx, 7, "thorns" in Prov., xxiv, 31 and Sophon., ii, 9, according to which texts it must be large enough for people to sit under, and must develop rapidly in uncultivated lands. Its translation as "thistles" or "nettles" is unsuitable, for these plants do not reach the proportions required by Job, xxx, 7, hence it is generally believed to be either the acanth, Acanthus spinosus, or rest-harrow, two species of which, Onamis antiquarum, and particularly O. leiosperma, Boiss., are very common in the Holy Land. (2) Hebrew barquanim ( Judges 8:7, 16 ) probably corresponds to the numerous species of Rubus which abound in Palestine; according to Moore (Judges, ad loc. ), Phaceopappus scoparius, Boiss., is intended. (3) Hebrew khedeq ( Micah 7:4 ). See Mad-apple . (4) Hebrew shamir ( Isaiah 5:6 ; 9:18 ; 10:17 ; 32:13 ), the flexible Paliurus aculeatus, Lam., Arab. samur, the supposed material of Christ's crown of thorns. (5) Hebrew shqyth ( Isaiah 7:23-5 ), a word not found outside of Isaias, and possibly designating prickly bushes in general.
Broom. See Juniper .
Buckthorn . See Bramble .
Bulrush represents three Heb. words: (1) gome Ex., ii, 3; Is., xviii, 2; xxxv, 7), Cyperus papyrus, is now extinct inEgypt (cf. Isaiah 19:6-7 ), where it was formerly regarded as the distinctive plant of the country (Strab., xvii, 15) and the Nile was styled "the papyrus-bearer" (Ovid, "Metam.", xv, 753), but still grows around the Lake of Tiberias , Lake Huleh. (2) ’Agmon (A. V., Isaiah 58:5 ; D. V. "circle") is variously rendered (D. V. Isaiah 19:15 ; Job 40:21 ). The plant whose flexibility is alluded to in Is., lviii, 5, A. V. appears to be either the common reed, Arundo donax, or some kind of rush; Juncus communis, J. maritimus, Lam., J. acutus are abundant in Palestine. (3) Suph ( Isaiah 19:6 ; A. V. "flag"; etc.), Egypt. tûf , probably designates the various kinds of rush and sea-weeds ( Jonah 2:6 ). Yam Suph is the Hebrew name for the Red Sea.
Bur, so, D. V., Os., ix, 6; x, 8, translatingVulgate lappa, "burdock", for Hebrew khoakh and qosh . Khoakh recurs in Prov., xxvi, 9; Cant., ii, 2 (D. V. "thorns"); 2 Kings 14:9 ; II Par., xxv, 18; Job, xxxi, 40 (D. V. "thistle"); "thorn" is the ordinary meaning of qosh . If burdock is the equivalent of khoakh, then Lappa major, D. C., growing in Lebanon is signified, as Lappa minor, D. C., is unknown in Palestine; however, the many kinds of thistles common in the East suit better the description. Yet, from the resemblance of Arab. khaukh with Hebrew khoakh, some species of blackthorn or sloe tree Prunus ursina, and others, Arab. khaukh al-dib might be intended.
Burnet. See Thistle (5).
Bush, Burning, Hebrew seneh, "thorny" ( Exodus 3:2-4 ; Deuteronomy 33:16 ), probably a kind of whitethorn of goodly proportions ( Cratægus sinaitica, Boiss.) common throughout the Sinaitic Peninsula. Arab. sanna is applied to all thorny shrubs.
Calamus,Hebrew qaneh ( Exodus 30:23 ; Ezekiel 27:19 ; Song of Songs 4:14 , and Isaiah 43:24 ; D. V. "sweet cane"; Jeremiah 6:20 : "sweet-smelling cane"), a scented reed yielding a perfume entering into the composition of the spices burned in sacrifices ( Isaiah 43:24 ; Jeremiah 6:20 ) and of the oil of unction ( Exodus 30:23-5 ). The qaneh is, according to some, Andropogon schœnanthus, which was used in Egypt for making the Kyphi or sacred perfume; according to others, Acorus aromaticus .
Cane, Sweet (Song of Songs 4:14 ; Isaiah 43:24 ). See Calamus.
Cane, Sweet-smelling ( Jeremiah 6:20 ). See Calamus.
Camphire (A. V.,Song of Songs 1:14 ; D.V. 4:13 ; "cypress"). From Hebrew kopher . The modern "camphor" was unknown to the ancients. Pliny identifies cyprus with the ligustrum of Italy, but the plant is no other than the henna tree ( Lawsonia alba ) the Orientals are so fond of. Its red sweet-scented spikes ( Douay Version, Cant., i, 13; "clusters") yield the henna oil; from its powdered leaves is obtained the reddish-orange paste with which Eastern women stain their finger and toe nails and dye their hair. Ascalon and Engaddi were particularly renowned for their henna.
Caper, Hebrew abiyyonah ( Douay Version, Ecclesiastes 12:5 ), the fruit of the caper tree, probably Capparis spinosa; C. herbacea, and C. ægyptiaca are also found in Palestine.
Carob, Greek kerátion (Luke 15:16 ), translated "husks" (A.V.; D.V.), the coarse pods of the locust tree, Ceratonia siliqua, "St. John's bread-tree".
Cassia,Hebrew qiddah ( Exodus 30:24 ; Ezekiel 27:19 ; D. V. "stacte"). Egypt. qad, the aromatic bark of Cinnamomum cassia, Bl., of India, an ingredient of the oil of unction ( Exodus 30:24 ), and the Egyptian Kyphi . In Ps. xliv (A. V., xlv, 8), 9, qeçi’ah, the Aramaic equivalent of qiddah, is possibly an explanation of ’ahaloth . There is no Biblical reference to the cassia, from which the senna of medicine is obtained.
Cedar, indiscriminately applied to Cedrus libani, C. bermudensis, Juniperus virginiana, and Cupressus thymoides, as Heb., ’erez was used for three different trees: (1) The cedar wood employed in certain ceremonies of purification ( Leviticus 14:4, 6 ; 49052; Numbers 19:6 ) was either Juniperus phœnicea, or J. oxycedrus, which pagans burned during sacrifices and at funeral piles (Hom., "Odyss.", v, 60; Ovid, "Fast.", ii, 538), and Pliny calls "little cedar " (Nat. Hist., XIII, i, 30). (2) The tree growing "by the waterside" ( Numbers 24:6 ) appears from Ez., xxxi, 7, to be the Cedrus libani, which usually thrives on dry mountain slopes. (3) In most of the other passages of Holy Writ , Cedrus libani, Barr, is intended, which "prince of trees", by its height ( Isaiah 2:13 ; Ezekiel 31:3, 8 ; Amos 2:9 ), appropriately figured the mighty Eastern empires ( Ezekiel 31:3-18 , etc.). From its trunk ship-masts ( Ezekiel 27:5 ), pillars, beams, and boards for temples and palaces ( 1 Kings 6:9 ; 7:2 ) were made; its hard, close-grained wood, capable of receiving a high polish, was a suitable material for carved ornamentations ( 1 Kings 6:18 ) and images ( Isaiah 44:14-5 ). Cedar forests were a paradise of aromatic scent, owing to the fragrant resin exuding from every pore of the bark ( Song of Songs 4:11 ; Hosea 14:7 ); they were "the glory of Libanus" ( Isaiah 35:2 ; 60:13 ), as well as a source of riches for their possessors ( 1 Kings 5:6 sqq. ; 1 Chronicles 22:4 ) and an object of envy to the powerful monarchs of Nineveh ( Isaiah 37:24 ; inscr. of several Assyrian kings).
Cedrat, Citrus medica, or C. cedra is, according to the Syriac and Arabic Bibles, the "Targum" of Onkelos, Josephus (Ant. III, x, 4) and the Talmud (Sukka, iii, 5), the hadar (D. V. "the fairest tree") spoken of in Lev., xxiii, 40, in reference to the feast of Tabernacles.
Centaurea . See Thistles .
Charlock . See Mustard .
Chestnut-tree. See Plane-tree.
Cinnamon , Hebrew, qinnamon ( Exodus 30:23 ; Proverbs 7:17 ; Song of Songs 4:14 ; Sirach 24:20 ; Revelation 18:13 ), the inner aromatic bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Nees, an ingredient of the oil of unction and of the Kyphi .
Citron, Citrus limonum, supposed by some Rabbis to be intended in the text of Lev., xxiii, 40; "boughs of hadar ", used regularly in the service of the synagogue and hardly distinguishable from cedrat.
Cockle, A. V.,Job 31:40 , for Hebrew be’osha : D. V. "thorns". The marginal renderings of A. V. and R. V. "stinking weeds", "noisome weeds", are much more correct. D. V., Matthew 13:24-30 , translates the Greek zizánia by cockle. The two names used in the original text point to plants of quite different characters: (1) According to etymology, be’osha must refer to some plant of offensive smell; besides the stink-weed ( Datura stramonium ) and the ill-smelling goose-weeds ( Solanum nigrum ) there are several fetid arums, henbanes, and mandrakes in Palestine, hence be’osha appears to be a general term applicable to all noisome and harmful plants. In the English Bibles, Is., v, 2, 4, the plural form is translated by "wild grapes", a weak rendering in view of the terrible judgment pronounced against the vineyard in the context; be’ may mean stinking fruits, as be’osha means stinking weeds. (2) zizánia, from Aram. zonin, stands for Lolium temulentum, or bearded darnel, the only grass with a poisonous seed, "entirely like wheat till the ear appears". The rendering of both versions is therefore inaccurate.
Colocynth, Citrullus colocynthis, Schr., Cucumis c., probably the "wild gourd" of2 Kings 4:38-40 , common throughout the Holy Land. In 1 Kings 6:18 ; 7:24 , we read about carvings around the inside of the Temple and the brazen sea, probably representing the ornamental leaves, stems, tendrils, and fruits of the colocynth.
Corn, a general word for cereals in English Bibles, like dagan in Heb. Wheat, barley, spelt (fitches), vetch, millet, pulse; rye and oats are neither mentioned in Scripture nor cultivated in the Holy Land.
Corn, Winter, Hebrew kussemeth ( Douay Version, Exodus 9:32 ; A.V. "rye"), rendered "spelt" in Isaiah 28:25 , yet the close resemblance of Arab. kirsanah with Hebrew suggests a leguminous plant, Vicia ervilia .
Cypress, in D. V., Cant., i, 16 (A. V., 17) a poor translation of Hebrew ’eç shemen (see Oil tree ); elsewhere Hebrew berosh is rendered "fir tree"; in Ecclus., xxiv, 17, the original word is not known. Among the identifications proposed for beroth are Pinus halapensis, Miel., and Cupressus sempervirens, the latter more probable.
Cyprus (Cant., i, 13; iv, 13). See Camphire .
Darnel, bearded. See Cockle (2).
Ear of corn translates three Heb. words: (1) shibboleth, the ripe ear ready for harvest; (2) melilah, the ears that one may pluck to rub in the hands, and eat the grains ( Deuteronomy 23:25 ; Matthew 12:1 ; Mark 2:23 ; Luke 6:1 ); (3) abib, the green and tender ear of corn.
Elecampane. See Thistle (6).
Elm translates: (1)Hebrew thidhar ( Douay Version, Isaiah 41:19 ; Isaiah 60:13: "pine trees"), possibly Ulmus campestris, Sm. (Arab. derdar ); (2) Hebrew ’elah (A. V., Hos., iv, 13; D. V. "turpentine tree"). See Terebinth.
Figs ( Hebrew te’ênim ), the fruit of the fig tree ( Hebrew te’ênah ), Ficus carica, growing spontaneously and cultivated throughout the Holy Land. The fruit buds, which appear at the time of the "latter rains" (spring), are called "green figs" ( Song of Songs 2:13 ; Hebrew pag, cf. Beth-phage), which, "late in spring" ( Matthew 24:32 ), ripen under the overshadowing leaves, hence Mark, xi, 13, and the parable of the barren fig tree ( Matthew 21:19, 21 ; Mark 11:20-6 ; Luke 13:6-9 ). Precociously ripening figs ( Hebrew bikkurah ) are particularly relished; the ordinary ripe fruit is eaten fresh or dried in compressed cakes (Hebrew debelah : 1 Samuel 25:18 , etc.). Orientals still regard figs as the best poultice ( 2 Kings 20:7 ; Isaiah 38:21 ; St. Jerome, "In Isaiam", xxxviii, 21, in P.L., XXIV, 396).
Fir, applied to all coniferous trees except the cedar, but should be restricted to the genera Abies and Picea, meant by Hebrew siakh ( Genesis 21:15 ; D. V. "trees"; cf. Arab., shukh ). Among these, Abies cilicia, Kotsch, and Picea orientalis are found in the Lebanon, Amanus and northward.
Fitches . Hebrew, kussemeth (Ezekiel 4:9 ), possibly Vicia ervilia, rendered "gith" by D.V., "rye" and "spelt" by A.V. and R.V. in Isaiah 28:25 .
Flag, Hebrew akhu (A.V.,Genesis 41:2, 18 : "meadow"; D.V. "marshy places", "green places in a marshy pasture"; Job 8:11 ; D.V. "sedge-bush"), a plant growing in marshes and good for cattle to feed upon, probably Cyperus esculentus .
Flower of the field,Hebrew khabbaççeth ( Isaiah 25:1 ), kh. sharon (Cant., ii, 1), like Arab. bûseil, by which Narcissus tazetta is designated by the Palestinians. Possibly N. serotinus, or fall Narcissus, was also meant by Heb., which some suppose to mean the meadow-saffron ( Colchicum variegatum, C. steveni ), abundant in the Holy Land.
Forest translates five Heb. words: (1) Ya’ar, forest proper; (2) horesh, "wooded height"; (3) çebak, a clump of trees; (4) ‘abhim, thicket; (5) pardeç, orchard. Among the numerous forests mentioned in the Bible are: Forest of Ephraim, which, in the Canaanite period, extended from Bethel to Bethsan ; that between Bethel and the Jordan ( 2 Kings 2:24 ); Forest of Hareth, on the western slopes of the Judean hills; Forest of Aialon, west of Bethoron; Forests of Kiriath Yearim; the forest where Joatham built castles and towers ( 2 Chronicles 27:4 ) in the mountains of Juda ; that at the edge of the Judean desert near Ziph ( 1 Samuel 23:15 ); Forest of the South ( Ezekiel 20:46, 47 ); and those of Basan ( Isaiah 2:13 ) and Ephraim ( 2 Samuel 18:6 ). Lebanon, Carmel, Hermon were also covered with luxuriant forests.
Frankincense ( Hebrew lebonah ) should not be confounded with incense ( Hebrew qetorah ), which confusion has been made in several passages of the English Bibles, e.g., Is., xliii, 23; lx, 6 (A. V.); Jer., vi, 20. Incense was a mixture of frankincense and other spices ( Exodus 30:34-5 ). Arabian frankincense, the frankincense par excellence, is the aromatical resin of Boswellia sacra, a tree which grows in southern Arabia (Arab. luban ); B. papyrifera of Abyssinia yields African frankincense, which is also good.
Fuller's herb ( Malachi 3:2 ). See Borith .
Galbanum, Hebrew khelbenah ( Exodus 30:34 ; Sirach 24:21 ), a gum produced by Ferula galbaniflua, Boiss. and other umbelliferous plants of the same genus. Its odour is pungent, and it was probably used in the composition of incense to drive away insects from the sanctuary.
Gall translates two Heb. words: (1) mererah, which stands for bile; (2) rosh, a bitter plant associated with wormwood, and growing "in the furrows of the field" (Hosea 10:4 ; D. V. "bitterness"), identified with: poison hemlock (A. V., Hos., x, 4), Conium maculatum, not grown in the fields; colocynth, Citrullus colocynthis, not found in ploughed ground; and darnel, Lolium temulentum, not bitter. Probably the poppy, Papaver rheas, or P. somniferum, Arab. ras elhishhash, is meant.
Garlic, Allium sativum, Hebrew shum (cf. Arab. thum ), a favourite article of food in the East. The species most commonly cultivated is the shallot, Allium ascalonicum .
Gith,Hebrew queçath ( Isaiah 28:25, 27 ), Nigella sativa ; A.V. "fitches" is wrong, nor does queçakh stand for the nutmeg flower, as G.E. Post suggests.
Goose-weed . See Cockle .
Gopher wood ( Genesis 6:14 ; D.V. "timber planks"), a tree suitable for shipbuilding: cypress, cedar, and other resinous trees have been proposed, but interpreters remain at variance.
Gourd,Hebrew qiqayou ( Jonah 4:6-10 ; D.V. "ivy"), the bottle-gourd, Cucurbita lagenaria, frequently used to overshadow booths or as a screen along trellises.
Grape, wild . See Colocynth .
Grape . See Vine .
Grape, Wild . See Cockle .
Grass translates four Heb. words: (1) deshe’ , pasture or tender grass, consisting mainly of forage plants; (2) yerek, verdure in general; (3) khaçir, a good equivalent for grass; (4) ’esebh, herbage, including vegetables suitable for human food. It occurs frequently in theBible , as in Gen., xlvii, 4; Num., xxii, 4; Job, vi, 5; xxx, 4 (see Mallows ); xl, 15; Matt., vi, 30; etc.
Grove, English rendering of two Hebrew words: (1) asherah, a sacred pole or raised stone in a temple enclosure, which "groves" do not concern us here; (2) ’eshel, probably the tamarisk tree (q.v.; cf. Arab. ’athl), but translated "groves" in Genesis 21:33 , and rendered elsewhere by "wood", as in 1 Samuel 31:6 and 31:13 .
Hay, Hebrew hasas ( Proverbs 27:25 ), a dried herb for cattle. "Stubble" in Isaiah 5:24 ; 33:11 , also translates hasas .
Hazel. See Almond tree .
Heath, Heb. ’ar’ ar’ aro’er (A. V., Jeremiah 17:6 ; 48:6 ; D. V. "tamaric", "heath"), a green bush bearing red or pink blossoms, and native of the Cape of Good Hope. The only species in Palestine is the Erica verticillata, Forskal. The E. multiflora is abundant in the Mediterranean region.
Hemlock, Hebrew rosh (A. V., Hosea 10:4 ; Amos 6:12 ; D. V. "bitterness"; 13 , "wormwood"), an umbelliferous plant from which the poisonous alkaloid, conia, is derived. Conium maculatum and Æthusa cynapium are found in Syria. The water- hemlock is found only in colder zones. See Gall .
Henna. See Camphire .
Herb . See Grass .
Herbs, Bitter, Hebrew meorim ( Exodus 12:8 ; Numbers 9:11 ; D. V. "wild lettuce"), comprise diverse plants of the family of Compositæ, which were eaten with the paschal lamb. Five species are known: wild lettuce, Hebrew hazeret ; endive, ulsin ; chicory, tamka ; harhabina and maror, whose translation is variously rendered a kind of millet or beet, and the bitter coriander or horehound.
Husks . See Carob .
Hyssop, Heb. ’ezob, Arab, zufa, an aromatic herb forming a dward bush. The Hysoppus officinalis, Linné ( Exodus 12:22 ; Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49, 51-52 ; Numbers 19:6 ; Psalm 1:9 ; Hebrews 9:19 ), was used in aspersion. In 1 Kings 4:33 , hyssop is a species of moss ( Orthotricum saxatile; Pottia trunculata ) spoken of in contrast to the grandeur of the cedar. The "hyssop" mentioned in John, xiv, 29, is written "reed" in Matt., xxvii, 48, and Mark, xv, 36.
Knapweed . See Thistles .
Ladanum,Hebrew lot (D. V. "stacte", A. V. "myrrh," in Genesis 37:25 ; 43:11 ), a gum from several plants of the genus Cistus (rock-rose); C. villosus and C. salvifolius are very abundant. In Ecclus., xxiv, 21, "storax". Hebrew libneh, is the equivalent of Greek stachté , used by Septuagint in the above passages of Gen.; whether ladanum was meant is not clear, as it is frequently the Greek rendering of Hebrew nataf .
Leeks, Hebrew khaçir ( Numbers 11:5 ), also rendered "grass", a vegetable, Allium porrum .
Lentisk . See Balm , Mastic tree .
Lign aloes . See Aloes .
Lily . (1) Hebrew shushan, Arab. susan, a generical term applicable to many widely different flowers, not only of the order Liliaceæ, but of Iridaceæ, Amaryllidaceæ, and others. Lilium candidum is cultivated everywhere; Gladiolus illyricus, Koch, G. septum, Gawl, G. atroviolaceus, Boiss., are indigenous in the Holy Land; Iris sari, Schott, I. palestina, Baker, I. lorteti, Barb., I. helenæ, are likewise abundant in pastures and swampy places. (2) The "lilies of the field" surpassing Solomon in glory were lilylike plants; needless to suppose that any others, e.g. the windflower of Palestine, were intended.
Lily of the valleys, Heb. khabbaççeleth . See Flower of the field .
Locust tree . See Carob .
Lotus . (1) A water plant of the order Nymphæaceæ, the white species of which, Nymphæa lotus, was called in Egyptian seshni, sushin, like the Hebrew shushan, which may have been applied to water-lilies, but the lotus was probably intended in 1 Kings 7:19, 22, 26, 49 . (2) A tree, Hebrew çe ’elim (A.V. Job 40:16-17 : "shadow", "shades"), Zizyphus lotus, very common in Africa on the river banks.
Mad-apple,Hebrew khodeq ( Proverbs 26:9 ; D. V. "thorn"; Micah 7:4 : "briers"), Arab. khadaq, Solanum coagulans, Forskal, of the same genus as our mad apple, found near Jericho. Solanum cordatum, Forskal, may also be intended.
Mallows, a mistranslation in A. V., Job, xxx, 4, for the orache or sea-purslain, Atriplex halimus, from Hebrew malluakh, derived from melakh, "salt", as halimus from ’áls. According to Galen, the extremities are edible; the Talmud tells us that the Jews working in the re-construction of the Temple (520-15 B. C. ) ate it ( Kiddushim, iii, fol. 66 a ).
Mandrake, from Heb., dud‘ , meaning " love plant", which Orientals believ
Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.