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<f^?>^^tXSCHOOL.

,HEAD MASTER





THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA



PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



tt

V



THE PLANTS OF THE BIBLE.




ARBOUR COVERED WITH A GOURD.



Page 2fj.



THE PLANTS OF THE BIBLE.




THE GRAPE VINE.



Page 103.



THOMAS NELSON AND SONS,

LONDON, EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK.



PLANTS OF
THE BIBLE



By



JOHN HUTTON BALFOUR, MA., M.D.,

F.R.S.S.L. & ., F.L.S., F.R.C.S.E.



T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW.

EDINBURGH ; AND NEW YORK.
1885.



EVERYTHING mentioned in the Bible is worthy of our attentive
consideration. The very words of the original text, written by
the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, call for diligent study ; and
the more we examine them in dependence on the aid of that
Spirit, the more light do we find shining upon them. The
student of God's Word cannot search too deeply or too minutely
into its hidden treasures. The most learned linguist finds here
ample scope for all his lore, and the accomplished naturalist
may bring to bear upon this work all the resources of science.

In the Sacred Writings there are frequent allusions made to
the Vegetable Kingdom. Our blessed Saviour drew beautiful
illustrations from plants, and he calls upon us to consider the
lilies of the field. While plants, like the other works of the
Almighty Creator, are well worthy of study, they are especially
so when we view them in connection with Scripture. In order
to see fully the lesson which is to be taught, it is necessary that
we should be acquainted with the plant to which reference is
made. Want of knowledge in this respect has hid much of the
beauty and force of many a parable.

At the time when our excellent English version was made,
there was comparatively little known in regard to the plants
of Palestine, and hence the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek
names was often doubtfully given. As the science of Botany
has advanced, and more particularly as the knowledge of the
Flora of the East has increased, additional light has been thrown



VI PREFACE.

on the plants noticed in the Bible. Celsius, Kosenmiiller, Royle,
and many others, have done much to elucidate Scripture Botany ;
and although there are still many difficulties in the way of a
complete Bible Flora, still there has been a great advance in
this department of Biblical learning. It has been thought that
such a work as the present might be useful in calling attention
to this important subject, and in inducing those who may visit
Palestine to turn their powers of observation to useful account.
It is to be regretted that, of the numerous visitors to the Holy
Land in recent times, few have turned their thoughts in this
direction, and that thus many valuable opportunities for ac-
quiring botanical information have been lost. The Botany of
the Bible can be fully worked out only by those who travel in
Eastern countries, and who are acquainted with Hebrew, Syriac,
Arabic, and other cognate languages. A great deal of valuable
information may be gathered on the spot, which cannot be other-
wise obtained. Let us hope that, ere long, travellers will have
greater facilities for prosecuting with safety their researches in
that interesting, although now deserted, land ; and that some
botanist may soon arise who will be able to write with scientific
accuracy on all the Scripture plants, from the Cedar on Lebanon
even to the Hyssop that groweth out of the wall.



NOTE BY THE PUBLISHERS.

Dr. Balfour died while this book was passing through the
press. The whole of it had passed under his eye in proof sheet
before his death. To the last he continued to take great in-
terest in it, as representing a union of the two departments of
study which had chiefly occupied his life. The little book will
have a special interest for his friends, as the revision of these
pages was the last literary work in which their author engaged.

PARKSIDE, EDINBURGH,
January 1885.



@fmt tents.



ALMOND-TREE (Amygdalus communis; Prunus amygdalus) 9

BOX-TREE (Boxus sempervirens) 14

BAY-TREE (Laurus nobilis) 18

CEDAR-TREE OF LEBANON (Cedrus Libani) 21

HEATH-TREE SAVIN (Juniperus Sabina) 28

CINNAMON-TREE AND CASSIA-TREE (Cinnamomum zeylanicum; and C. Cassia) ... 30

FIR-TREE (Cupressus sempervirens) 34

FIG-TREE (Ficus Carica) 40

HYSSOP (Capparis spinosa; Caper plant and its variety, Capparis cegyptiaca) 44

ASPEN, OR TREMBLING POPLAR (Populus tremula) 48

OAK-TREE (Quercus JEgilcps) 51

MUSTARD-TREE (Salvadora persica; Sinapis nigra) 57

MYRTLE-TREE (Myrtus communis) 62

OLIVE-TREE (Olea europcea) 65

OIL-TREE (Elceagnus angustifolia) 70

PALM-TREE (Phoenix dactylifera) 72

POMEGRANATE-TREE (Punica Granatum) 77

SHITTAH-TREE (Acacia Seyal) 80

SYCOMORE-TREE (Ficus sycomorus) 85

TEIL-TREE, OR TEREBINTH- TREE (Pistacia Terebinthus) 89

HUSK-TREE (Ceratonia Siliqua) 93

PLANE-TREE (Platanus orientalis) 97

NUTS (Juglans regia; Pistacia vera) 100

VINE (Vitis vinifera) 103

WILLOW-TREE (Salix babylonica) 108

CAMPHIRE (Lawsonia inermis) 113

ALMUG OR ALGUM TREE (Santalum album; Pterocarpus santalinus) 115

ALOES-TREE, OR LIGN-ALOES TREE (Aquilaria Agallochum) 116

ASH-TREE 117

EBONY-TREE (Diospyros ebcnus) 117

JUNIPER-BUSH (Genista monosperma) 119

POPLAR (Populus alba) 120

MYRRH-TREE (Balsamodendron Myrrha). 121

ESHEL (Tamarix orientalis) 122

THYINE-WOOD (Xylon thyinum) 124

APPLE-TREE (Pyrus malus) 126

THORNS AND BRIERS AND BRAMBLES 128

LOT, OR LADANUM (Cistus creticus) 129



viil CONTENTS.

STACTE (Nataf) 130

PINE-TREE (Tidhar) 131

ANISE OB DILL (Peucedanum graveolens; Anethon) 133

BEANS (Viciafaba; Pol ; Cyamos; Fdba vulgaris) 135

SWEET CANE (Andropogon calamus-aromaticus) 137

CORIANDER (Coriandrum sativum) 139

CORN , 142

CUMMIN (Cuminum cyminum) 143

FITCHES (Nigella sativa) 146

FLAX (Linum usitatissimum).. 149

FRANKINCENSE (Boswellia thurifera) 154

GALBANUM (Polylophium officinale) 156

WILD GOURD (Citrullus colocynthis) 158

HEMP (Cannabis sativa) 162

SAFFRON (Crocus sativus) 165

LENTILES (Ervum lens) 167

RUE (Ruta graveolens) 170

MINT (Mentlia sylvestris). 173

ROSE (Narcissus tazetta) 175

MILLET (Panicum miliaceum) 178

TARES (Lolium temulentum) 180

LILY OLD TESTAMENT (Nymphcea lotus) 183

LILY NEW TESTAMENT (Anemone coronaria) 187

MELON (Cucumis melo) 191

NETTLE (Urtica urens) 194

GARLIC (Allium sativum). 197

GRASS 198

LEEK (Allium porrum) 200

ONION (Allium cepa). 202

WHEAT (Triticum sativum; var. compositum) 204

SPELT (Triticum spelta) 209

BARLEY (Hordeum distichon) 211

COCKLE (Baoshati) 214

GOURD (Ricinus communis ; Cucurbita pepo). 215

CUCUMBER (Ciicumis sativus) 219

BULRUSH AND RUSH (Papyrus antiquorum) 222

SPIKENARD (Nardostachys jatamansi) 226

COTTON (Gossypium herbaceum). 229

REED (Arundo donax) 233

FLAG {Cyperus esculentus) 235

DOVE'S DUNG (Ornithogalum umbellatum) 237

MANDRAKE (Atropa mandragora; Mandragora officinalis) 239

THISTLE (Tribulus terrestris) 242

HEMLOCK 244

WORMWOOD 246

BITTER HERBS 247

CONCLUSION. ... .248



THE PLANTS OF THE BIBLE.



ALMOND-TREE.

(Amygdalus cornmunis, Linn.; Prunus amygdalus, Stokes.)




The almond tree shall flourish." ECCLES. xii. 5.

| HE almond-tree is the Amygdalus communis
of botanists. It is referred to in Scripture
under the Hebrew name of shaked, apparently
derived from the word shakad, meaning haste
or waking early, with reference to its early blossoming.
The Hebrew word luz (from the Arabic louz), which
occurs in Genesis xxx. 37, and which has been translated
"hazel," is considered to be another name for the almond.
Luz is supposed to refer to the tree, and shaked to the
fruit of the almond. Rosenmuller thinks that the
former name designates the wild tree, and the latter
the cultivated one. The tree belongs to the natural
order Rosacese, the Rose family. It is included under
the section (sub-order) Amygdalae or Drupiferse of that
family, distinguished by the nature of the fruit, which

2



10 ALMOND-TREE.

has a kernel, enclosed in a shell or stone, as it is called,
and surrounded by a more or less succulent covering.
In this section are included also the peach, the nec-
tarine, the apricot, the plum, and the cherry. The leaves
of the tree are long and narrow, with an acute point




BRANCH OF ALMOND-TREE.



and saw-like margin. The tree is a native of Asia and
Barbary. It is cultivated extensively in the south of
Europe, and is also met with in gardens in Britain.
It was probably not a native of Egypt; for Jacob,
when sending his sons to that country, told them to
take almonds (shaJcedim) as a present to Joseph (Gen.
xliii. 11). The tree appears also to have continued to



ALMOND-TREE.



11



produce fruit during the period of famine in the land of
Canaan.

The almond-tree blossoms very early in the season.
Kitto mentions it among the trees of Palestine that
flower in January. The flowers are of a pinkish colour,




-~~^^:^<&**&*e

Amox-D-TREE.(Amygdaluscommunis.')

and are produced before the leaves, and are therefore very
conspicuous. This hastening of the period of flowering
seems to be alluded to in Jeremiah i. 11, 12 "What
seest thou ? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree
[shaked]. Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well
seen : for I will hasten [shaked] my word to perform it."



12 ALMOND-TREE.

In Ecclesiastes xii. 5, it is said, " The almond tree
shall flourish." This has often been supposed to refer
to the resemblance between the flowers of the almond
and the hoary locks of old age. But this interpretation
is not borne out by an examination of the blossom of
the almond, which is pinkish, and not pure white. The
passage rather appears to refer to the hastening of old
age. As the almond -tree ushers in spring, so do the
signs referred to in the context indicate the coming of
old age and death. In both passages the tree is taken
as denoting the speedy approach of marked epochs or
events.

The almond-tree was associated in the minds of the
children of Israel with the choosing of the house of
Levi for the service of the tabernacle. Moses, we are
told in Numbers xvii., laid up the twelve rods of the
princes of Israel before the Lord, in the tabernacle of
witness ; and on the morrow the rod of Aaron, which
represented the house of Levi, brought forth buds and
blossoms, and yielded almonds. Thus the Lord made to
cease the murmurings of the children of Israel against
Moses. This rod was deposited, as a memorial, in the
ark of the covenant (Heb. ix. 4).

In Northern Europe almonds are mentioned about the
middle of the second century before Christ. They
were produced largely in the islands of the Greek
Archipelago. The Knights Templars in Cyprus levied
tithes of almonds in 1411. In medieval cookery the
consumption of almonds was very great.

The fruit of the almond was used to furnish a model



ALMOND-TREE. 13

for certain kinds of ornamental carved-work. Thus, in
speaking of the candlestick in the tabernacle, Moses
says that its bowls were made like unto almonds (Exod.
xxv. 33, 34; xxxvii. 19, 20). Pieces of crystal called
" almonds " are still used by manufacturers in the
adorning of cut-glass chandeliers. The kernel of the
almond is used for food, and for supplying oil. There
are two varieties of the tree, one yielding sweet and the
other bitter almonds. These two varieties are very like
each other, and can scarcely be distinguished at first
sight. Sweet almonds (Amygdalus communis, variety
dulcis) contain a fixed oil and emulsine; while bitter
almonds (Amygdalus communis, variety amara) contain,
in addition, a nitrogenous substance called amygdaline,
which, by combination with emulsine, produces a volatile
oil and prussic acid. Bitter almonds, when eaten in
small quantity, sometimes produce nettle-rash, and when
taken in large quantity they may cause poisoning.

Let the almond-tree be the means of calling our
attention to the hasting of God's Word, so that we may
be ready, having our loins girt and our lamps burning,
when the Lord comes.

In the figures a representation is given of the almond-
tree, and of its blossoms and fruit.

Almonds of all kinds imported into the United
Kingdom are reported as follows :

Cwts.

1876 77,196

1877 60,547

1878 58,360

1879 46,319

1880 86,763



BOX-TREE.

(Buxus sempervirens, Linn.)




" I will set in the desert the fir-tree, and the pine, and the box-tree
together." ISA. xli. 19.

]HE box- tree is the Buxus sempervirens of
botanists. According to some the Palestine
plant differs from the common box in the
form and size of its leaves. It is mentioned
in the Bible under the Hebrew name of teasshur. The
tree belongs to the natural order Euphorbiacese, the
Spurgewort family. The plants of this order have
peculiar involucrate flowers, often without any perianth,
and their fruit is usually composed of three carpels,
which separate in an elastic manner when ripe. They
abound in milky juice, which has in general acrid and
poisonous qualities. Starch, as well as oils and caout-
chouc, are procured from many of the species.

The box is a native of most parts of Europe, and
grows well in England, as at Boxhill, in Surrey. It is
prized as an ornamental evergreen ; and in a dwarf state
is used for garden borders. Its wood, imported from



BOX-TREE.



15



the Levant, is used by the wood-engraver, the turner,
the mathematical instrument maker, the comb and toy
maker, and others. The wood is hard and durable, and
was formerly made into tablets which were covered with
wax and used for writing. The practice of inlaying




BOX-TEEE. (Buxus sempervireiis.')

box-wood with ivory is noticed by ancient authors.
Thus Virgil says :

" Aut collo decus, aut capiti; vel quale per artem
Inclusum buxo, aut Oricia' terebintho,
Lucet ebur." ^Eneid, x. 135.

[An ornament, either for the neck or for the head ; or as shines the ivory
by art enchased in boxwood or Orician ebony.]

The prophet Isaiah refers to the box as one of the



16 BOX-TREE.

trees fitted to beautify the wilderness and the desert: " I
will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree
[Acacia Seyal], the myrtle, and the oil tree [olive tree] ;
I will set in the desert the fir tree, the pine, and the
box tree together " (xli. 19). Again, in referring to the
glory of the latter days, he speaks of the box as adorning
the Lord's temple : " The glory of Lebanon shall come
unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary " (Ix. 13). Eoyle
says : " The box-tree, being a native of mountainous
regions, was peculiarly adapted to the calcareous forma-
tions of Mount Lebanon, and therefore likely to be
brought from thence with the coniferous woods for the
building of the temple; and it was well suited to change
the face of the desert." The prophet's prediction, how-
ever, seems to have reference to the trees of righteous-
ness, the planting of the Lord (Ixi. 3), and to bring
before us the members of Christ's true Church, differing
in many particulars, but all enjoying sweet communion,
and worshipping the Lord together.

The prophet Ezekiel (xxvii. 6), when describing the
commerce of Tyre, uses the word ashur, which, by most
, commentators, is supposed to be a contraction of teasshur,
or box. The translation of the passage should probably
be " Of the oaks of Bashan have they made their oars;
the benches of the rowers have they made of ashur-wood
[box- wood], inlaid with ivory, brought out of the isles of
Chittim [the isles of Greece]." Thus, in place of Ashur-
ites, as in our Authorized Version, the word ashur-iuood
ought to be substituted. It is conjectured that Corsica



BOX-TREE. 17

and Sardinia may have been included among the isles of
Chittim whence box-wood was brought to Judea. Pliny
and Theophrastus mention that Corsica was famous for
its box-trees. Another species, called Buxus balearica,
Turkey-box, is found in the Balearic Isles. Its wood is
also much used.

By some the teasshur has been confounded with the
sherbin, which is in reality a species of juniper (Juniperus
phcenicea), found on Lebanon, and sometimes erroneously
called cedar. By some the Palestine-box is thought to be
a small species or variety named Buxus tenuifolia, with
more slender leaves.



BAY-TREE.

(Laurus nobilis, Linn.)




" Spreading like a green bay tree." Ps. xxxvii. 35.

(HE plant called bay-tree in the Bible is sup-
posed to be the sweet-bay, the Laurus
nobilis of botanists. It belongs to the
natural order Laurinese, the Laurel family.
The laurels are aromatic and fragrant plants, yielding
fixed and volatile oils, as well as camphor. They have
dotted leaves; stamens partly fertile and partly abortive,
the former having anthers opening by valves; and their
fruit is a berry or drupe. The sweet-bay the ezracli
of the Hebrew is an evergreen tree, attaining the height
of twenty or thirty feet, common in the south of Europe,
and found also in Palestine. At the present day it is
said to luxuriate in the old gardens of Tyre and Sidon,
and beside some forgotten towers and deserted wine-
presses in the Holy Land.

The tree yields a green oil, denominated oil of bays.
Its branches were used for crowning the victors in the
ancient games of Greece and Rome, .as well as for
decorating the brow of the poet.



BAY-TJREE.



19



This and the other species of true laurel must not be
confounded with the plants commonly called laurels in
gardens. The latter consist of the cherry laurel and the
Portugal laurel, which belong to a totally different order
of plants namely, to the same section of the rose
family as the almond and the plum. The ratafia odour




BAY-TREE. (Laurus nobilis.')

emitted by the bruised leaves of these garden laurels is
very different from the aromatic perfume given out by
the sweet-bay leaves. The cherry-laurel water furnished
by the large-leaved bay-laurel contains prussic acid, and
has consequently poisonous qualities. In this respect
the plant resembles the bitter almond. Another garden
plant, denominated Laurustinus, must also be distin-



20 BAY-TREE.

guished from the sweet-bay ; it is the Viburnum Tinus
of botanists, and belongs to the natural order Capri-
foliacece.

The psalmist, in Psalm xxxvii. 35, thus alludes to the
laurel now under consideration : " I have seen the
wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a
green bay tree." The vigour and beauty of the tree
made it a fit emblem of prosperity; and its association
with the fame of the victor and the poet suggested the
idea of the honour which cometh from man.

Royle says : " The cause why the laurel is not more
frequently mentioned in Scripture is probably because it
was never very common in Palestine; as otherwise, from
its pleasing appearance, grateful shade, and the agreeable
odour of its leaves, it could hardly have failed to attract
attention." In the neighbourhood of Antioch the tree is
said to be abundant. Hasselquist suggests that the rose-
bay, the Nerium Oleander of botanists, might be the
plant referred to by the psalmist. It grows by the
sides of streams in some parts of Judea, and is con-
spicuous alike for its foliage as for its showy flowers.
The perfume of the oleanders around the Lake of Tiberias
has attracted the notice of travellers. Koyle and others
think that the oleander is the rJwdon, or rose, of the
Apocrypha.

Some commentators suppose that the term ezrach
applies to a tree grown in its native soil, and not to any
special tree, such as the bay.



CEDAK-TREE OF LEBANON.

(Cedrus Libani, Linn. )




" The boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars." Ps. Ixxx. 10.

]HE cedar-tree of Lebanon is noticed in the
Bible under the Hebrew name of eres or
ceres. It is probable, however, that this
name was also applied to other allied plants.
The Arabs call the tree arz or ars. It is the Cedrus
Libani of botanists, and belongs to the natural order
Coniferse, the Cone-bearing family, in which it is associ-
ated with the pines, firs, spruces, and larches.

In early times, the cedar appears to have grown abun-
dantly on Lebanon, and to have proved its distinguishing
feature. Hence it was called " the glory of Lebanon "
(Isa. xxxv. 2 ; Ix. 13). In various passages of the Old
Testament, we read of the cedars of Lebanon sent by
Hiram, king of Tyre, for the building of David's house,
of the temple at Jerusalem, and of Solomon's house (2
Sam. v. 11, vii. 2, 7 ; 1 Kings v. 6, 8, 10, vi. 9, 10,
15, 16, 18, 20, vii. 2, 3, 7, 11, 12, ix. 11; 1 Chron.
xvii. 6 ; 2 Chron. ii. 8). Beams, boards, pillars, walls,



22 CEDAR-TREE OF LEBANON.

floor, ceiling, throne, and altar of cedar are mentioned.
This timber was employed in consequence of its superior
quality. It is stated that Solomon " made cedars to be
as the sycomore trees [sycomore fig-trees] that are in the
vale [or in the low plains], for abundance" (1 Kings x. 27;
2 Chron. ix. 27). Travellers tell us that there are




CEDAR CONES.



still numerous cedars on Lebanon. There are at least
nine distinct localities, containing many thousand trees
and numerous saplings. Sir J. D. Hooker says that
" cedars are found on the mountains of Algeria, on the
whole range of Taurus, and in the Kedesha valley of
Lebanon. In the Kedesha valley the number of trees is
about four hundred. They are of various sizes, from
about eighteen inches to upwards of forty feet in girth."
He calculates the age of the Kedesha cedars at eight hun-
dred years.

Robinson says : " Cedars of Lebanon, still called arz,
stand mostly on four small contiguous rocky knolls, within
a compass of less than forty rods in diameter. They



CEDAR-TREE OF LEBANON. 23

form a thick forest without underbrush. The older
trees have each several trunks, and thus spread them-
selves widely around." Some of the older trees are
much broken, and will soon be destroyed.

Burckhardt, in 1810, says of this spot : " Of the oldest
and best-looking trees I counted eleven or twelve,
twenty-five very large ones, about fifty of middling size,
and more than three hundred smaller and young ones.
In 1843 Dr. Wilson counted twelve of the ancient
trees not standing together, and of the younger growth
three hundred and twenty-five." (Lands of the Bible,
ii. 389.)

In 1853 Bitter numbers four hundred in all, of which
twelve are spoken of as the largest.

During the last three centuries the number of the
older trees has diminished by about one-half.

In 1550 Belon counted twenty-eight; in 1556 Fiiren
counted twenty-five; in 1575 Rauwolf counted twenty-
four, and two others the boughs of which were broken
off by age ; in 1596 Dandini counted twenty- three ; in
1632 Roget counted twenty- two ; in 1660 D'Arvieux
counted twenty- three ; in 1688 De la Roque counted
twenty; in 1696 Maundr ell counted sixteen; in 1738
Korte counted eighteen very old and large; in 1739
Pococke counted fifteen, and one recently blown down ;
in 1755 Schulz counted twenty. (Busching Edbeschr,
xi. i. 314.)

The cedars stand in a magnificent amphitheatre on
Lebanon, about 6,400 feet above the level of the sea, with
the ridges of the mountains rising two to three thousand



24 CEDAR-TREE OF LEBANON.

feet above it. The amphitheatre fronts the west, and
the snow extends round from south to north. It appears,
according to Ehrenberg, that cedars are found on the
northern parts of Lebanon also.

The cedar of Lebanon is a wide-spreading evergreen
tree, from fifty to eighty feet in height, with numerous
large horizontal branches. Ezekiel, when describing the
cedar, speaks of its high stature, " its top among the thick
boughs, its multiplied boughs, its long branches, and its
shadowing shroud" (Ezek. xxxi. 3-9). The "goodly cedars,"
or cedars of God, are mentioned in Ps. Ixxx. 10; and
"excellent cedars," in Song of Sol. v. 15. Isaiah speaks
of the cedars of Lebanon being "high and lifted up"
(ii. 13); and of the "tall cedars" (xxxvii. 24). As the
branches extended so did the roots, and thus the tree
was firmly fixed in the soil, and enabled to withstand
the violence of storms. Hence the prophet Hosea says,
"He shall cast forth his roots as Lebanon" (xiv. 5).
The watering of the roots by means of the streams of
Lebanon is referred to by Ezekiel in the passage already
noticed. The tree was distinguished for its exalted and
vigorous growth ; hence it is singled out among those of
which Solomon wrote : " He spake of trees, from the
cedar tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop
[caper-bush] which springe th out of the wall " (1 Kings


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