the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey,
spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds." Various plants
have been considered as yielding the nuts referred to in
this passage. Considering that the fruit was the com-
mon produce of Syria, and that the allied Arabic word,
batam or botin, is applied to a species of terebinth, it
is now supposed that Bochart was correct in saying that
the nuts were the pistacia or pistachio nuts of commerce,
the produce of the Pistacia vera of botanists. Betonim,
a name applied to a town of the Gadites (Josh. xiii. 26),
is probably a modification of the same word.
The pistacia-nut tree belongs to the natural order
Anacardiacese or Terebinthacese, the Cashew family.
The green-coloured kernels yield oil. Koyle says : " Pis-
tachio nuts are much eaten by the natives of the coun-
tries where they are grown, and they form an article of
commerce from Afghanistan to India. They are also
exported from Syria to Europe. They might, therefore,
well have formed a part of the present intended for
Joseph." Aleppo is still famous for pistachio nuts.
( Vitis vinifera, Linn. )
I am the tme vine, and my Father is the husbandman." JOHN xv. 1.
J HE vine is expressed in Hebrew by the word
gephen, and in Greek by the word ampelos ;
while the grape or the fruit of the vine is the
anul or yayin of Hebrew, and the staphyle
of Greek writers. The plant is called by botanists Vitis
vinifera. It belongs to the natural order Vitacese or
Ampelidese, the Vine family.
The vine, its fruit, and the wine made from it, are
often referred to in the Bible. The plant is said to be
a native of the hilly region on the southern shores of
the Caspian, of the Persian province of Ghilan, and of
Armenia. It has been distributed extensively over the
world, and its cultivation is noticed in the earliest times.
Noah planted a vineyard after the Deluge, probably in
Armenia, and made wine from the grapes (Gen. ix. 20,
21). Wine is mentioned in the interview between
Abraham and Melchizedek (Gen. xiv. 18). In the bless-
ing of Judah, Jacob says, " He washed his garments in
wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes " (Gen. xlix.
11), as indicative of prosperity. The vine was known
to the Egyptians (Gen. xl. 9-11), and is represented
on their monuments. The Israelites, in their journey
through the wilderness, longed for the vines of Egypt
(Num. xx. 5) ; and the psalmist, in alluding to God's
judgments on Pharaoh, introduces the vines as being
destroyed (Ps. Ixxviii. 47 ; cv. 33).
Vineyards abounded in Canaan when the Israelites
took possession of it, and the vines were very productive.
The Promised Land seems specially the country of the
vine, and the climate is still fitted for its cultivation.
The evidences of terraced vineyards, of wine-presses and
vats, still remain. The men who were sent by Moses to
search the land, cut in Nachal-Eshcol that is, the Valley
of Eshcol. or the Grape Valley, near Hebron a cluster
of grapes which was so large that it was carried by two
upon a staff (Num. xiii. 23). In Syria, at the present
day, clusters weighing ten or twelve pounds have been
gathered. Frequent allusions occur in the Bible to vine-
yards, to vine-dressers, to the rejoicing at the vintage, the
gathering and the gleaning of grapes, the treading of the
grapes, the wine-presses and the wine-fats all indicating
the important place which the vine occupied among the
vegetable productions of Palestine. In that country the
vintage extended from the beginning of September to
the end of October. In speaking of the future pros-
perity of Israel, Amos says that the days will come when
" the treaders of grapes shall overtake him that soweth
seed" (Amos ix. 13), thus indicating a long-continued
vintage; while, in speaking of desolation, Isaiah says,
" In the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall
there be shouting : the treaders shall tread out no wine
in their presses ; I have made their vintage shouting to
cease" (Isa. xvi. 10).
The treading of the grapes is often mentioned as a
joyful occasion : " He shall give a shout, as they that
tread the grapes " (Jer. xxv. 30). The treaders had their
feet and legs bare, but when first leaping on the grapes
the juice often dyed their clothes. Hence the allusion
in Isaiah Ixiii. 2, 3, where the Lord speaks of treading the
wine-press alone, and of staining all his raiment
In gathering the grapes, the Israelites were told to
leave gleanings for the poor and the stranger (Lev. xix. 1 0).
Some choice vines are mentioned under the name of
sorek (Gen. xlix. 11 ; Isa. v. 2 ; Jer. ii. 21). The vine-
yards of Eshcol, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sibmah, Jazer, En-
gedi, and Helbon, were celebrated (Song of Sol. i. 14 ;
Isa. xvi. 8-10 ; Jer. xlviii. 32, 33 ; Ezek. xxvil 18).
The wine of Helbon is still famous ; and Damascus
must always have been the natural channel for its
export. Ezekiel says : " Damascus was thy merchant in
the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the
multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and
white wool." The "wine of Lebanon" is also mentioned
in Hosea xiv. 7, and it is still in repute.
Vineyards were specially protected. In the Mosaic
law there was an injunction against trespassing on vine-
yards. Isaiah thus speaks of a vineyard : " My well-
beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill : and he
fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted
it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst
of it [for watchers], and also made a winepress therein" (Isa.
v. 1, 2). In Psalm Ixxx. 12, allusion is made to the hedges
of the vineyard ; and in the New Testament it is said, " A
householder planted a vineyard, and hedged it round
about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower "
(Matt. xxi. 33 ; Mark xii. 1). Jackals (called foxes in
Scripture) were apt to injure the vines. Hence, in the
Song of Solomon, we have, " Take us the foxes, the little
foxes, that spoil the vines : for our vines have tender
grapes" (ii. 15). Vines were trained in various ways in
Palestine. Sometimes they were trained over walls or
trellises, so as to form a complete bower almost like a
tree. Perhaps the patriarch Jacob alluded to this in the
blessing of Joseph, when he spoke of " a fruitful bough,
whose branches run over the wall" (Gen. xlix. 22); and
the psalmist when he speaks of "a fruitful vine by the
sides of thine house " (Ps. cxxvii. 3).
The vine has followed the footsteps of man, and has
been transplanted by him into all parts of the world.
The juice of the young fruit, called verjuice, is very sour ;
that of the riper fruit is called must, and is used as a
refreshing drink in some countries. It is probably
referred to in those passages of Scripture in which the
expression " the blood of the grape " occurs. There was
a thin sour wine used by the poorer classes, which is often
translated "vinegar" (Ruth ii. 14). It might be this which
was offered to the Saviour on the cross (Matt, xxvii. 48).
The dried fruit, known as " raisins," is also noticed in the
Bible (1 Sam. xxv. 18, xxx. 12 ; 2 Sam. xvi. 1 ; 1 Chron.
xii. 40). Many illustrations are taken from the vine.
Israel is represented as a vine brought from Egypt, and
planted by the Lord (Ps. Ixxx. 8 11 ; Isa. v. 7; Jer. ii. 21).
Dwelling under the vine and fig-tree is an emblem of peace
and tranquillity (Micah iv. 4 ; Zech. iii. 10). A fruitful
vine is associated with domestic happiness (Ps. cxxviii. 3).
The production of wild grapes and of grapes of gall, an
empty vine, and a strange vine, are figurative expres-
sions used to illustrate the departure of Israel from God
(Deut. xxxii. 32, 33 ; Isa. v. 2, 4 ; Jer. ii. 21 ; Hos. x. 1).
The phrase " wild grapes " is by some translated " putrid
grapes." They are considered by Berkeley as grapes
affected with rot or mildew. Our Saviour calls himself
the true vine, into which his disciples are grafted, so as
to bring forth much fruit (John xv.).
Robinson mentions an ancient wine-press at Hableh.
" Advantage had been taken of a ledge of rock ; on the
upper side, towards the south, a shallow vat had been
dug out eight feet square and fifteen inches deep, its
bottom inclining slightly towards the north. The thick-
ness of the rock left on the north was one foot, and two
feet lower down on that side another smaller vat was
excavated four feet square by three feet deep. The
grapes were trodden in the shallow upper vat, and the
juice drawn off by a hole at the bottom into the lower
vat." (Biblical Researches in Palestine, 1856, p. 137.)
In Isaiah xvi. 7, it is written, " For the foundations of Kir-
hareseth shall ye mourn;" but it should be, "For the raisin-
cakes of Kir-hareseth shall ye mourn." (See Hosea iii. 1.)
(Salix babylonica, Linn.)
" They shall spring up.. .as willows by the water courses." ISA. xliv. 4.
| HE Hebrew words oreb and orebim, which
are also written 'arab and 'arabim, occur in
the Old Testament, and have been translated
"willow," or "willows." Several species may
have been included under the name orebim. We have
figured Salix babylonica, the weeping-willow, as being
probably one of them, and as being that more especially
referred to in Psalm cxxxvii. 1, 2, when Israel in cap-
tivity says, " By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat
down ; yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We
hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst
Willows belong to the natural order Salicinese, the
Willow family, consisting of useful timber trees having
a tonic and astringent bark, flowers in catkins, and seeds
covered with silky hairs.
Willows are found in moist situations, beside running
brooks as well as by still waters. In the Bible, the locality
of their growth is usually associated with them. Thus,
on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Israelites
are enjoined to take " boughs of goodly trees, branches
[leaves] of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees,
and willows of the brook" [wady or ravine], and to
"rejoice before the Lord... seven days" (Lev. xxiii. 40).
WILLOW-TREE. (Sato babylonica.)
These were employed in the construction of booths
(Lev. xxiii. 42). Job, in describing behemoth (probably
the hippopotamus), says : " The shady trees cover him
with their shadow ; the willows of the brook compass
him about" (Job xl. 22). In the seventeenth verse of
the same chapter, the word " cedar " ought to be willow
" He moveth his tail like a willow." In proclaiming
the burden of Moab, the prophet says : " Therefore the
abundance they have gotten, and that which they have
laid up, shall they carry away to the brook [valley]
of the willows" (Isa. xv. 7). Again, in comforting
the Church with his gracious promises, God speaks thus
by the mouth of his prophet : " And they [their off-
spring] shall spring up as among the grass, as willows
by the water courses " (Isa. xliv. 4) ; indicating a con-
stant supply of refreshing water, when the Lord " will
pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon
the dry ground " (Isa. xliv. 3).
Willows were thus associated both with the joyous and
the sorrowful days of the children of Israel. When
captives in Babylon, their grief was poured forth under
the willows ; and in contemplating God's purposes of
mercy towards them, they are directed to the willows as
emblems of their growth, and as recalling the willows of
the brook with which they rejoiced in their feast-days
Another Hebrew word, teaphtzapka, or zaphzapha,
has been translated " willow-tree." It occurs in Ezekiel
xvii. 5 : " He took also of the seed of the land, and
planted it in a fruitful field ; he placed it by great
waters, and set it as a willow tree." This appears to
be a species of willow called by the Arabs safsaf, which
is the generic name. This may be Salix cegyptiaca of
botanists. This tree was noticed by Hasselquist in his
journey from Acre to Sidon.
There are other species of willow in the Holy Land,
such as Salix octandra, Salix viminalis, the common
osier. The word safsaf is found in the names of places.
Thus there is Wady Safsaf, " the valley of the willow ;"
and Ain Safsaf, " the fountain of the willow."
Tristram, from his observations in Palestine, is dis-
posed to think that the " willow by the water-courses" is
more especially applicable to Nerium Oleander, the rose
bay oleander. This is a native plant of Palestine, and
is a very conspicuous one, and could hardly be omitted
in the Bible. " It fringes the whole Upper Jordan, dip-
ping its wavy crown of red into the spray in the rapids
under Hermon, and is nurtured by the oozy marshes in
the Lower Jordan nearly as far as to Jericho. The im-
mediate basin of the Dead Sea is too hot for it ; every-
where else it demands but moisture, and springs up by
the water-courses." This plant, the Nerium Oleander of
Linnaeus, belongs to the natural order Apocynacese, the
Dog-bane family, which contains many poisonous plants.
Some think that it corresponds to the Rhodon, or rose
of the Apocrypha.
(Lawsonia inermis, Linn. ]
"As a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi." SONG OF SOL. i. 14.
| HE Hebrew word kopher or copher occurs in
the Song of Solomon, and has been translated
" camphire." Thus the king says, " My be-
loved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in
the vineyards of En-gedi " (i. 14) ; and again, " Thy plants
are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits ;
camphire, with spikenard" (iv. 13). The Hebrew word
resembles the Greek kapros or cypros, which is applied
by Dioscorides and Pliny to a plant known to botanists
by the name of Lawsonia inermis. It belongs to the
natural order Lythraceae, the Loose-strife family. It is
an odoriferous shrub, the henna or alkanna of Cyprus
and Egypt. It is found in Arabia, and on the shores of
the Dead Sea at En-gedi. Its fragrant flowers grow in
clusters, and it is used in the East for dyeing the nails,
the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet of an
iron-rust colour. The object of this custom is to check
perspiration. Henna powder is procured from the stem
and leaves of the plant. These are put into hot water,
stirred and boiled well, and then left on the fire for two
hours, until the mass becomes a paste, which when
applied to the hair and the skin, tinges them with an
orange colour. The plant is used for dyeing morocco
leather. The custom of dyeing the nails was an ancient
one in Egypt. It is said that the nails of mummies
(especially females) have sometimes traces of it. Some
think that there is an allusion made to the practice in
Deuteronomy xxi. 1 2, where, in place of " pare her
nails," the phrase might be rendered, " adorn her nails."
In addition to the Plants which we have figured and
described, there are other Trees and Shrubs which are
briefly or very obscurely alluded to in the Bible. The
following are recorded here in order to complete the list.
ALMUG OR ALGUM TREE.
(Santalum album, Linn., according to some, while according to others
it is Pterocarpus santalinus.)
" The navy of Hiram... brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees."
1 KINGS x. 11.
ALGUM or almug trees are mentioned in Scripture ;
they do not appear, however, to have been trees of the
The Hebrew words almuggim and algummim are
translated "almug" or "algum trees," in our version of the
Bible. The plant referred to is supposed to be the
sandal-wood of India called Santalum album by botan-
ists, and belonging to the natural order Santalacese, or
the Sandal-wood family. Others, however, think that
the plant is more probably Pterocarpus santalinus, or
the red sandal-wood of India. This belongs to the
natural order Leguminosse and the sub-order Papilionacese.
The wood was brought from Ophir (probably some part
of India) by Hiram, and was used in the formation of
116 ALOES-TREE, OR LIGN- ALOES TREE.
pillars for the temple, and for the king's house, as well
as for harps and psalteries (1 Kings x. 11, 12 ; 2 Chron.
iii. 8, ix. 10, 11). The wood of the white sandal- wood
is fragrant, and is used for incense in China. Large
quantities of this sandal-wood are cut in Malabar for
export to China and different parts of India. The outer
wood of the stem is white and has no odour, while the
central part, especially near the root, is fragrant. The
red sandal-wood is a heavy, fine-grained, red-coloured
wood, and is used in the East for making musical
ALOES-TREE, OR LIGN-ALOES TREE.
(Aquilaria Agallochum, Roxb.)
"All thy garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia." PSALM xlv. 8.
THE Hebrew words, ahdlim and ahdloth, and the Greek
aloe, are rendered "aloes," in our version of Scripture.
The substance is supposed by some to have been the
fragrant wood of Aquilaria, Agallochum, by others
to be the gum. This is a plant belonging to the
natural order Aquilariacese, found in Northern India
and Cochin China, and attaining a height of one
hundred and twenty feet, but which does not occur
in Syria or Chaldsea. There is, therefore, some
doubt as to the tree mentioned in Scripture. Trees
of lign-aloes are referred to in Numbers xxiv. 6. The
use of aloes as a perfume is noticed in Psalm xlv. 8 ;
Proverbs vii. 17 ; in the Song of Solomon iv. 14 ; and
for perfuming the coverings of the dead it is referred to
ASH-TREE EBONY-TREE. 117
in John xix. 39, 40, where it is said that Mcodemus,
after the manner of the Jews, "brought a mixture of myrrh
and aloes, about an hundred pound weight," in order to
impart fragrance to the linen clothes in which our Sav-
iour's body was wound. We must not confound this
aloes with the bitter aloes so well known as a medicine,
which is the produce of a totally different plant, and
which does not possess the fine fragrance of the sub-
stance now under consideration.
" He planteth an ash [oren], and the rain doth nourish it." ISA. xliv. 14.
THE Hebrew word oren, which occurs in Isaiah xliv. 14,
is translated "ash" in our version. It is supposed by some
to mean a kind of pine-tree, while others look upon it
as a thorny shrub allied to Rhamnus or Capparis. We
still want information on the subject. The Syrian pine
is Pinus halepensis. It belongs to the natural order
Coniferae. Tristram says that there is a tree in the
valleys of Arabia Petrsea, called in Arabic aran, whose
foliage resembles that of our mountain-ash.
(Diospyros ebenus, Retz.)
" They brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony."
EZEK. xxvii. 15.
THE Hebrew word, hobnim, occurs in Ezekiel xxvii. 15,
and has been translated "ebony." It was brought to Tyre
by the merchants of Dedan, who came from the Persian
Gulf. This wood appears to be the product of various
EBONY-TREE. (Diospyros ebenus.)
trees, more particularly of species of Diospyros such as
Diospyros ebenus. They belong to the natural order
Ebenacese, and are valued for their hard and durable
timber. The outside wood of the ebony-tree is white
and soft, while the central part is black and hard. The
ebony-tree is a native of Ceylon and Southern India.
A KIND OF BEOOM.
(Genista monosperma, Lam.)
" He lay and slept under a juniper tree [rotheni]." 1 KINGS xix. .5.
THE Hebrew word rothem, or rotem, has been rendered
" juniper " in our version. It seems to be the same as the
Arabic word retem, and the retama of the Moors.
These terms are applied to a kind of broom. It is be-
lieved that rotem is the Genista monosperma of botanists,
belonging to the natural order Leguminosse (Pea family),
and includes Papilionacese. It is a shrubby plant with
white blossoms. It is found in Spain, Portugal, Barbary,
Egypt, Syria, and Palestine. Elijah rested under the
shade of the rotem or broom (1 Kings xix. 4, 5). Lord
Lindsay states that, during his travels in the valleys of
Mount Sinai, " the rattam, a species of broom, bearing a
white flower delicately streaked with purple, afforded
him shelter from the sun while in advance of the
caravan." Dean Stanley also mentions that during a
storm of rain in the desert he sheltered himself under a
retem bush. It is a large and conspicuous plant in
deserts. It is used for making charcoal by the Arabs.
The use of the plant as fuel is referred to in Psalm cxx.
4, " Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper ; "
and it would appear that its roots were eaten in certain
circumstances, for Job says, "Who cut up mallows by the
bushes, and juniper roots for their meat " (Job xxx. 4),
The Israelites encamped in the wilderness of Paran at
Bithmah, or "place of broom" (Num. xxxiii. 18).
(Populus alia, Linn.)
" They burn incense under oaks, and poplars, and elms." Hos. iv. 13.
THE Hebrew word libneh, meaning " white," has been
translated "poplar" in Genesis xxx. 37 and Hosea iv. 13.
Some think that the name may refer to the white
poplar (Populus alba of Linn.), which is remarkable for
the whiteness of the under side of its leaves. This tree
belongs to the natural order Salicinece, the Willow
family. The tree grows in the mountainous districts of
Palestine, and in various parts of Galilee, Lebanon, and
Mount Hermon. On the banks of the Jordan another
species of poplar grows (Populus euphratena), the
Euphrates poplar. Layard says that the only trees
within the land of Assyria sufficiently large to furnish
beams to span a room thirty or forty feet wide are the
palm and the poplar. Their trunks still form the roofs
of houses in Mesopotamia. The boats now employed in
the lower parts of the Tigris and Euphrates are con-
structed of planks taken from a species of poplar, prob-
ably Populus euphratena.
Some authors think that the word libneh refers to
the storax plant (Styrax officinale of Linnaeus), which
has white flowers, and a white lower surface of the
leaves. The plant yields a fragrant resin called storax,
containing benzoic acid, and is used as a pectoral remedy.
Storax is probably the stacte of the Bible. (See Stacte.)
(Balsamodendron Myrrlia, Ehrenb.)
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense." SONG OF SOL. iii. 6.
THE Hebrew word mohr and the Greek smurna
translated " myrrh " in the
Bible. This substance is a fra-
grant sort of gum which exudes
from various trees in Arabia
and Abyssinia, one of the chief
being Balsamodendron Myrrha,
or the myrrh . balsam-tree, be-
longing to the natural order
Amyridacese, the Myrrh family.
Myrrh was celebrated as a per-
fume, and as a stimulant medi-
cine. It was burned in temples,
and was employed in embalm-
ing (John xix. 39). It entered
into the composition of the
holy anointing oil (Ex. xxx.
23). It was given as a present, from its value and
rarity (Matt. ii. 11), and its fragrance is often made
mention of (Ps. xlv. 8 ; Song of Sol. iii. 6, iv. 6, 14,
v. 1, 5, 13).
The balm of Gilead is supposed to be the produce of
Balsamodendron gileadense. The native country of the
plant is the east coast of Africa, but it was cultivated
extensively in the plains of Jericho. From the bark of
the tree there is obtained by incision a fragrant exuda-
tion of a yellow colour, which was used as a stomachic,
and was applied to wounds.
Many species of Balsamodendron are called balsam-
trees. They are mentioned under the Hebrew names
of basam and Baal-shemen. The word tzeri, also trans-
lated "balm," occurs in Gen. xxxvii. 25, xliii. 11;
Jer. viii. 22, xlvi. 11, li. 8; and Ezek. xxvii. 17. "Is
there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there ? "
(Jer. viii. 22.) The word basam is often translated
"spices" (Song of Sol. v. 1, 13, vi. 2 ; Ex. xxxv. 28;
1 Kings x. 10). (See also Ladanum.)
(Translated Grove, and Tree.)
" Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree [eshel or tamarisk] in Ramah."
1 SAM. xxii. 6.
ESHEL is a Hebrew word, which occurs in Genesis xxi.
33, where it is translated "grove ; " and in 1 Samuel xxii.
6 and xxxi. 13, where it is translated "tree." It is said
that "Abraham planted a grove [eshel] in Beer-sheba,
and called there on the name of the Lord ; " that " Saul
abode in Gibeah under a tree [eshel] in Kamah ; " and
finally, that Saul and his sons were buried " under a tree
[eshel] at Jabesh." Royle considers the word as being
equivalent to the Arabic asul or athul, which refers to