William Carpenter.

Scripture natural history; containing a descriptive account of the quadrupeds, birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, serpents, plants, trees, minerals, gems, and precious stones, mentioned in the Bible online

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Online LibraryWilliam CarpenterScripture natural history; containing a descriptive account of the quadrupeds, birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, serpents, plants, trees, minerals, gems, and precious stones, mentioned in the Bible → online text (page 27 of 39)
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king, from the Aurea Chersonesus, a country so called, precious
stones, and pine trees ; and these trees he made use of for support-
ing the temple and the palace, as also for the materials of musical
instruments, the harps, and the psalteries that the Levites might
make use of in their hymns to God. The wood which was brought
to him at this time, was larger and finer than any that had ever
been brought before ; but let no one imagine that these pine trees
were like those which are now so named, and which take their
denomination from the merchants, who so call them, that they
may procure them to be admired by those that purchase them ;
for those we speak of, were, to the sight, like the wood of the fig
tree, but were whiter and more shining. Now, we have said thus
much, that nobody may be ignorant of the difference between
these sorts of wood, nor unacquainted with the nature of the genu-
ine pine tree ; and we thought it both a seasonable and humane
thing when we mentioned it, and the uses the king made of it, to
explain this difference so far as we have done.'



THE box tree, being an evergreen, answers well enough to the
Hebrew fashur, which probably implies perpetual viridity. The
objection to this tree, that it is not sufficiently stately, seems to
possess no weight, because there are associations of objects of an
equally disproportionate size, where they participate of a common
character, in other parts of the sacred writings. The import of the
passages where this tree is spoken of (Isa. xli. 39 ; ch. Ix. '13.), ap-
pears to be this \- a perpetual verdure shall succeed to an unbroken
barrenness ' I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah
tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree ; I will set in the desert the fir
tree, and the pine, and the box tree together.' But as we have not
sufficient means to ascertain satisfactorily whether this was the
tree to which the prophet referred, we prefer to place it in this


M. MICHAELIS in his remarks on Jonah iv. says, ' Celsius appears
to me to have proved that it is the ' kiki of the Egyptians.' Hero-
dotus says: 'The inhabitants of the marshy grounds in Egypt
make use of an oil which they term the kiki, expressed from the
Sillicyprian plant. In Greece this plant springs spontaneously
without any cultivation ; but the Egyptians sow it on the banks of
the river and the canals ; it there produces fruit in abundance, but
of a very strong odor. When gathered they obtain from it, either
by friction or pressure, unctuous liquid which diffuses an offensive
smell, but for burning, it is equal in quality to the oil of olives.'
This plant rises with a strong herbaceous stalk to the height often
or twelve feet ; and is furnished with very large leaves, not unlike
those of the plane tree. Rabbi Kimchi says, that the people of the
East plant them before their shops for the sake of the "shade, and
to refresh themselves under them. M. Niebhur says, ^1 saw for
the first time, at Basra, the plant el-keroa. It has the form of a
tree. The trunk appeared to me rather to resemble leaves than
wood ; nevertheless, it is harder than that which bears the Adam's
fig. Each branch of the keroa has but one large leaf, with six or
seven foldings in it. This plant was near a rivulet which watered
it amply. At the end of October, 1765, it had risen in five months
time, about eight feet, and bore at once flowers and fruit, ripe and
unripe. Another tree of this species which had not had so much
water, had not grown more in a whole year* The flowers and
leares of it which I gathered, withered in a few minutes ; as do all


plants of a rapid growth. This tree is called at Aleppo, 'Palma
Christi.' An oilis made from it called * oleum de keroa ; oleum
cicinum ; oleum ficus infernalis.' The Christians and Jews of
Mosul [Nineveh] say, it was not the keroa, whose shadow retresh-
ed Jonah, but a sort of gourd, el-kera, which has very large leaves,
very large fruit, and lasts about four months.'

The epithet which the prophet uses in speaking of the plant,
* son of the night it was, and son of the night it died,' does not com-
pel us to believe that it grew in a single night, but either by a
strong oriental figure, that it was of rapid growth, or akin to night
in the shade it spread for his repose. The figure is not uncommon
in the East, and one of our own poets has called the rose ' child of
summer.' Nor are we bound to take the expression 'on the mor-
row ' as strictly importing the very next day, since the word has
reference to much more distant time, Exod. xiii. 5 ; Deut. vi. 20 ;
Josh. iv. 6. It might be simply taken as afterwards. The circum-
stance of the speedy withering of the flowers and leaves of the ke-
roa should not be slightly passed over ; nor that of its present name
cicinum (pronouncing the c hard, like fc), which is sufficiently near
the kikiun of Jonah. The author of ' Scripture Illustrated ' re-
marks, as the history of Jonah expressly says, the Lord prepared
this plant, no doubt we may conceive of it as an extraordinary one
of its kind, remarkably rapid in its growth, remarkably hard in its
stem, remarkably vigorous in its branches, and remarkable for the
extensive spread of its leaves and the deep gloom of their shadow ;
and, after a certain duration, remarkable for a sudden withering,
and a total uselessness to the impatient prophet.'

On the wild gourds of 2 Kings iv. 39, we have spoken in the ar-
ticle on the vine.


< HE shall be like the heath in the desert,' says the prophet ; < he
shall not see when good cometh ; but shall inhabit the parched
places in the wilderness, a salt land,' Jer. xvii. 6. And again,
* Flee, save yourselves, and be like the heath in the wilderness,' ch.
xlviii. 6. But what plant is this heath ? The LXX. and the Vul-
gate say, 'a tamarisk:' others 'a leafless tree;' and Parkhurst
quotes from Taylor, a blasted tree, stripped of its foliage.' If it be
a particular plant, he thinks the tamarisk as likely as any, because
these trees have not much beauty to recommend them, their branch-
es being produced in so straggling a manner, as not by any art to
be trained up regularly : and their leaves are commonly thin upon
their branches, and fall away in winter, so that there is nothing to
recommend them but their address. But the question presents it-


self, says Mr. Taylor, can the tamarisk live in a sah land ? in parch-
ed places ? He thinks not, and therefore proposes to seek the He-
brew orur among the lichens, a species of plants which are the last
productions of vegetation, under the severe cold of the frozen zone,
and under the glowing heats of the equatorial deserts; so that it
seems best qualified to endure parched places, and a salt land.


THE word in Hebrew is used to denote a deadly poison in gen-
eral, whether animal or vegetable : Deut. xxix. 18, margin, &c. It
is frequently joined with wormwood; and from a comparison of
Ps. Ixix. 22, with John xix. 29, the learned Bochart thinks this
herb in the Psalms to be the same as the Evangelist calls hyssop, a
species of which growing in Judea, he proves to be bitter ; adding,
that * it is so bitter as not to be eatable.'

From Hos. x. 4, &c. it seems that this word is also used to de-
note some particular vegetable : * Judgment springeth up as hem-
lock, in the furrows of the field.' Here the comparison, as Mr.
Taylor suggests, is to a bitter herb, which, growing among corn,
overpowers the useful vegetable, and substitutes a pernicious weed.
If the comparison be to a plant growing in the furrows of the
field, strictly speaking, he continues, then we are much restricted
in our plants, likely to answer this character ; but if we may take
the ditches around, or the moist and sunken places within the field
also, then we may include other plants, and there is no reason why
hemlock may not be intended.


THIS may very properly follow hemlock, or gall ; as it is so fre-
quently united with it in scripture. It must be observed, that the
disagreeable effects attributed to this plant (Deut. xxix. 18 ; Prov.
v. 4; Jer. ix. 15 ; ch. xxiii. 15 ; Amos v. 7 ; and Rev. viii. 11), by
no means accord with the wormwood of Europe, which is rather a
salutary herb than a deadly poison. The true wormwood, there-
fore, may not be intended, but some plant allied to it, either in
form or appearance ; or which if it be of the same class, differs by
its more formidable properties. The LXX. usually translate the
word by terms expressive of its figurative sense.



IT is not easy to decide, says Mr. Taylor, whether by the term
zizania in Matt. xiii. the Saviour intends indifferently all plants which
grow among grain, or some particular species. All we are certain
of from the circumstances of the parable is ? that it is a plant which
rises to the height of the corn. Parkhurst cites Mintert, who says,
it is a plant in appearance not unlike corn or wheat, having at first
the same kind of stalk, and the same viridity, but bringing forth no
fruit, at least none good.' He adds, from John Melchoir, zizanion
does not signify every weed, in general, which grows among corn,
but a particular species of weed known in Canaan, which was not
unlike wheat, but being put into ground, degenerated, and assumed
another nature and form. It bringeth forth leaves like those of
wheat or barley, yet rougher, with a long ear, made up of many lit-
tle ones, every particular whereof contatneth two or three grains
less than those of wheat ; scarcely any chaffy husk to cover them
with ; by reason whereof they are easily shaken about, and scattered
abroad. They grow in fields among wheat and barley. They spring
and flourish with the corn ; and in August the seed is ripe.

It grows among corn. If the seeds remain mixed with the meal,
they render a man drunk by eating the bread. The reapers do not
separate the plant; but, after the threshing, they reject the seeds by
means of a fan or sieve. Nothing, says Mr. Taylor, can more clear-
ly elucidate the plant intended by our Lord, than this extract. It
grows among corn so in the parable. The reapers do not separate
the plants so in the parable : both grow together till harvest. Af-
ter the threshing they separate them in the parable they are gath-
ered from among the wheat, and separated by the hand, then gath-
ered into bundles. Their seeds, if any remain by accident, are
finally separated by winnowing ; which is, of course, a process pre-
paratory to being gathered the corn into the garner, or storehouse
the injurious plant into heaps for consumption by fire, as weeds
are consumed.


THE mallows of our translation, occurs only in Job xxx. 4, where
speaking of the former miserable condition of some of those per-
sons who now held him in derision, the patriarch says, ' Who cut
up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.' Refer-
ring the reader to the account of the juniper for some general remarks
on the passage, we shall here only add, after Parkhurst, that the
name shows the vegetable spoken of to be a root of a brackish or
saltish taste.



REFERRING our readers to Exod. xv. 1, for an account of the mi-
raculous supply of this substance, as an article of food, and the cir-
cumstances connected therewith, we shall at once proceed to state
what we hav collected on the article itself.

To describe this substance, the sacred writer states, that it was
* a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground '
(Exod. xvi. 14) ; that it was * like coriander seed, white, and the
taste like wafers made with honey' (ver. 31); and the color like that
of bdellium, Numb. xi. 7.

Whatever this substance was, says Dr. A. Clarke, it was nothing
common to the wilderness. It is evident the Israelites never saw
it before ; for Moses says (Deut. viii. 3, 16), ' He fed thee with
manna which thou knewedst not, neither did thy fathers know ;'
and it is very likely that nothing of the kind had ever been seen
before ; and, by a pot of it being laid up in the ark, it is as likely
that nothing of the kind ever appeared more, after the miraculous
supply in the wilderness had ceased. It seems, he adds, to have
been created for the present occasion ; and like him, whom it typi-
fied, to have been the only thing of the kind, the only bread from
heaven, which God ever gave to preserve the life of man ; as Christ
is the bread which came down from heaven, and was given for the
life of the world.

The Psalmist, referring to this supply of mannn and quails, adopts
a phraseology which clearly implies its miraculous character:

He commanded the clouds from above,

And opened tho doors of heaven ;

He rained down manna upon them to eat,

And gave them of the corn of heaven.

Each one ate of food from above ;

He sent them meat to the full.

Ps. Ixxviii. 2325.

We shall close this article with Mr. Bloomfield's very excellent
note on John vi. 31 33, which passage may appear, at first sight,
to contradict the text of the Psalmist: 'Our fathers did eat manna
in the desert : as it is written, * He gave them bread from heaven
to eat.' Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Moses gave you not that bread from heaven ; but my Father giveth
you the true bread from heaven : For the bread of God is he which
cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.' Some
maintain that Jesus, by his reply, only intended to refute the Jew-
ish opinion respecting the origin of manna ; and thus said that the
bread which their ancestors had received from Moses, did not come
from heaven, but was only naturally formed. But this would re-
quire a different phraseology. It rather seems that Jesus, whose
aim it was to remove far more serious errors, even such as respect-

MANNA. 301

ed the morals of men, followed the popular manner of speaking ;
thus wisely accommodating himself to their harmless opinion, in
order to avoid giving them unnecessary offence. The passage may
be thus paraphrased : ' The bread from heaven, the true celestial
bread, Moses did not bestow on your forefathers ; he procured on-
ly bread fit to satiate the corporeal appetite, and appertaining only
to this fleeting, transitory life. (See verse 49). But my Father be-
stow eth on you, by me, bread which may, in the complete sense,
be termed bread from heaven ; such as is adapted to nourish the
soul, and will confer eternal salvation,' verse 33. Jesus calls him-
self the true celestial bread, inasmuch as, having descended from
heaven, he bestows on men the nourishment of the soul, namely,
the divine and saving truths of his gospel. (Kuinoel.) Since they
supposed that the manna was bread from heaven in the proper
sense, Jesus corrects their erroneous notion, by hinting that the
true heaven is there used par catachresin for the air, or sky ; as
when it is said, the fowls of heaven, i. e. the air : q. d. ' As that
descending from on high, nourished those who partook of it, so do
I also. But that was from the air ; 1 from the real heaven. Thai
nourished the bodies ; but 1 support and strengthen the souls of
men.' Our Lord's declaration imports, as Mr. Bloomfield imag-
ines, that it is in a subordinate sense only, that what dropped from
the clouds, and was sent for the nourishment of the body, still mor-
tal, could be called the bread of heaven, being but a type of that
which hath descended from the heaven of heavens, for nourishing
the immortal soul unto eternal life, and which is, therefore, in the
most sublime sense, the bread of heaven.




T H Y I N E.

THIS wood is mentioned, in Rev. xviii. 12, among the various ar~
tides of luxury imported into the modern Babylon.

Thepphrastus says, that the thyon or thya-tree grows near the
temple of Jupiter Ammon (in Africa), in the Cyrenaica, that it is
like the cypress in its boughs, leaves, stalk, and fruit, and that its
wood never rots. It was in high esteem among the heathen, who
often made the doors of their temples and the images of their god*
of this wood.


IN Exodus xxx. 24, Cassia is prescribed as one of the ingredient*
for composing the holy anointing oil. It is the bark of a tree of the
bay tribe, which now grows chiefly in the East Indies. This bark
was made known to the ancients, and highly esteemed by them ;
but, since the use of cinnamon has been generally adopted, the
cassia bark has fallen into disrepute, on account of its inferiority.
It is 'thicker and more coarse than cinnamon, of weaker quality,
and abounds more with a viscid mucilaginous matter. For many
purposes, however, Cassia, as being much less expensive, is substi-
tuted for cinnamon, but more particularly for the preparation of
what is called oil of cinnamon.

Cassia was one of the articles of merchandize in the markets of
Tyre, Ezek. xxvii. 19. The Cassia mentioned in Psalm xlv. 8, is
thought to have been an extract, or essential oil, from the bark.



THIS was also one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil
(Exod. xxx.) ; but whether it was the bark of the same tree as that
now commonly used, is by no means certain ; it is only found in
the East Indies and in China, with which, it is unnecessary to say,
there was no communication in the time of Moses. Pliny speaks
of a species of cinnamon which grew in Syria: it was probably of
an inferior description to that of Ceylon.

The cinnamon tree is mentioned, among other aromatics, in Cant,
iv. 14, and as it is by no means unlikely that Solomon had import-
ed some of those from India, the following account of it will not
be out of place here.

This valuable laurel rises above twenty feet in height ; the trunk
extends about six feet in length, and one foot and a half in diame-
ter: it sends off numerous branches, which are covered with smooth
bark, of a brownish ash color ; the leaves stand in opposite pairs,
upon short foot-stalks ; they are of an ovalish oblong shape, obtuse-
ly pointed, entire, firm, from three to five inches long, of a bright
green color, and marked with three whitish longitudinal nerves.
The common peduncles grow from the younger branches, and af-
ter dividing, produce the flower in a kind of paniculated umbel.
The petals are six, oval, pointed, concave, spreading, of a greenish
white or yellowish color, and the three outermost are broader than
the other ; the filaments are nine, shorter than the corolla, flattish,
erect, standing in ternaries, and at the base of each of the three in-
nermost, two small round glands are placed ; the antheree are dou~
ble, and unite upon the top of the filament ; the germen is oblong,
the style simple, of the length of the stamina, and the stigma is de-
pressed and triangular : the fruit is a pulpy pericarpiurn, resembling
a small olive of a deep blue color, inserted in the corrollae, and con-
taining an oblong nut.

The use of the cinnamon tree is not confined to the bark ; for it is
remarkable that the leaves, the fruit, and the root, all yield oil of
very different qualities, and of considerable value : that produced
from the leaves is called oil of cloves, and oleum Malabathri : that
obtained from the fruit is extremely fragrant, of a thick consistence,
and at Ceylon is made into candles, for the sole use of the king.
The bark of the root not only affords an aromatic essential oil, or
what has been called oil of camphor, of great estimation for its
medical use, but also a species of camphor, which is much purer
and whiter than that kept in the shops.

The spice so well known to us by the name of cinnamon, is
the inner bark of the tree ; and those plants produce it in the most
perfect state, which are about six or seven years old, but this must
varyaccording to circumstances.

The bark, while on the trees, is first freed of its external green-


ish coat ; it is then cut longitudinally, stripped from the trees, and
dried in sand, till it becomes fit for the market, when it is of a red-
dish yellow, or a pale rusty iron color, very light, thin, and curling
up into quills or canes, which are somewhat tough, and of a fibrous
texture. It is frequently mixed with cassia, which is distinguish-
ed from the cinnamon by its taste being remarkably slimy. This
bark is one of the most grateful of the aromatics; of a very fragrant
smell, and a moderately pungent, glowing, but not fiery taste, ac-
companied with considerable sweetness, and some degree of as-



THESE are mentioned among the articles whicli Israel desired
his sons to take as a present to the governor of Egypt, his unknown
child, Gen. xliii. 11. Bochart, Shaw, and some other critics are of
opinion that the pistachio nut is intended, the finest in the world
being found in Syria ; but according to others, it was the produce
of a species of the terebinth, which some prefer to the pistachio,
and some think superior to the almond. The name of this kind of
terebinth us is, in Arabic, beten, which is the word used in the pas-
sage under consideration.


IT now seems to be admitted that the word ceration denotes not
peas and beans, but the fruit of the cerationa, or carob tree, com-
mon in Spain, Italy, Turkey, and the East, where the fruit still
continues to be used for the same purposes as that referred to in
Luke xv. 16. Galen speaks of it as a woody kind of food, creating
bile, and necessarily hard of digestion. Sir Thomas Brown is
thought to have been the first to have discovered the sort of vegeta-
ble here meant ; aud as his details are, upon the whole, the most
complete and interesting, and the work itself of not frequent oc-
currence, we make the following extract:

* That the prodigal son desired to eat of husks given unto swine,
will hardly pass in your apprehension for the husks of beans, peas,
or such edulious pulses; as well understanding that the textual
word, ccration, properly intendeth the fruit of the saligna tree, so
common in Syria, and fed upon by men and beasts; also, by some,
the fruit of the locust tree, and Panis Sancti Johannis, as conceiv-
ing it to have been part of the diet of the Baptist in the desert.
The tree and fruit is not only common in Asia, and the eastern
parts, but also well known in Apuglia, and the kingdom of Naples,
growing along the Via Appia, from Fundi unto Mola: the hard
cods or husks make a rattling noise in windy weather, by beating


against one another ; called by the Italians carobbe, or carrobole,
and by the French carouges. With the sweet pulp hereof, some
conceive that the Indians preserve ginger, mirabolans, and nutmegs.
Of the same, as Pliny delivers, the ancients made one kind of wine,
strongly expressing the juice thereof: and so they might often give
the expressed and less useful parts of the cods and remaining pulp,
unto their swine ; which, being no gustless or unsatisfying offal,
might be well desired by the prodigal in his hunger.'

To this account we subjoin from Mr. Taylor the following de-
scription of the tree, and also some further particulars of the fruit.

This tree loves warm situations : it rises very high, on a thick
trunk, and spreads out strong, large, and solid branches. Its leaves
are wing-shaped, somewhat roundish, three inches broad or more,
and rather longer. Its flowers are milk white ; the fruit is in pods,
longer and thicker than a finger, somewhat smoothed and flat ;
sweet and edible. Pliny says the same. The Egyptians, accord-
ing to Alpinus, extract from these pods a very sweet honey, which
the Arabs use for a seasoning instead of sugar. This honey also is
employed, instead of bee honey for clysters; and some even give it
as food to relax the bowels. It is probable, therefore, that the pro-
digal ate this fruit in a time of scarcity, as we might do acorns in

G U M S .


THIS was an aromatic and odoriferous gum, which issued from
a tree not certainly known, called by the ancients Thurifera. Theo-
phrastus says, its leaves resemble those of a pear-tree : Pliny varies
in his description, sometimes conforming to Theophrastus, but at
other times stating it to be a kind of laurel, and even a kind of tur-
pentine tree.

There are two kinds of incense the male and the female ; the
former, which is the best, is round, white, fat, and very inflamma-

Online LibraryWilliam CarpenterScripture natural history; containing a descriptive account of the quadrupeds, birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, serpents, plants, trees, minerals, gems, and precious stones, mentioned in the Bible → online text (page 27 of 39)