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been expressed, is the oil-cake which is given as food to

150 FLAX.

cattle. Frequent references are made in the Bible to
flax and linen. In Egypt the flax plant was extensively
cultivated, and employed for the manufacture of linen.
The cloth made from it was used to wrap the mum-
mies. By examining the mummy cloth under the rnicro-

FLAX. (Linum usitatissimum.)

scope, we ascertain that it was formed from flax, and
not from cotton. On various Egyptian monuments the
plant and the preparation of its fibres are represented.
The usual mode in which flax is prepared is by steep-
ing it in water, allowing all the softer parts to be

FLAX. 151

removed, and retaining the fibrous portion. The process
is tedious, and is often accompanied with injury to the
fibres. Of late years great improvements have taken
place in the manufacture.

The first allusion to the flax plant in the Bible is
when the plague of hail was sent by God as a judgment
on the . Egyptians : " And the flax and the barley was
smitten : for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was
boiled" (Ex. ix. 31). The period of the year when
the plague was sent was spring, probably about April,
a time when hail-storms were very uncommon. It
would appear, therefore, that, as is the custom in India
now-a-days, the flax and the barley were sown in the
months of September and October, and the reaping took
place in the early part of summer. The flax being
" boiled" means that the flower-buds were formed. Some
have translated the passage, " the flax was in blossom."
Whichever translation is taken, it is clear that the
flax was far advanced, so as to be injured by the hail.
God showed his power and sovereignty by destroy-
ing one of the sources whence the Egyptians derived
articles of comfort and luxury. That flax was cultivated
in Palestine is shown in Joshua ii. 6, where it is stated
that the faithful Rahab used flax to hide the spies sent
by Joshua to examine Jericho : " But she had brought
them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the
stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the
roof." In the history of Samson, also (Judges xv. 14),
reference is made to flax as being well known. (See also
Hosea ii. 5, 9.) The spinning of flax by the hand with

152 FLAX.

the spindle and distaff is alluded to in Proverbs xxxi.
13, 19, where it is said of the virtuous woman, "She
seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her
hands... She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her
hands hold the distaff."

This mode of preparing yarn is portrayed on the
marbles of Athens and Rome, and is still practised in
some countries. The working of fine flax and linen was
an important manufacture, and the destruction, of those
employed in it is mentioned by Isaiah as one of the
awful judgments to be inflicted on Egypt : " Moreover,
they that work in fine flax, and they that weave net-
works [or white works], shall be confounded" (Isa. xix. 9).

Flax seems to have been put to various uses, as in the
preparation of linen clothing, curtains, ephods, girdles,
mitres, bonnets, ropes, and wicks. In many passages in
Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Chronicles allu-
sions are made to the use of linen, and fine linen, in the
formation of the priests' garments and of the hangings
of the tabernacle. Samuel ministered before the Lord
with a linen ephod (1 Sam. ii. 18). David danced
before the ark, girded with a linen ephod (2 Sam. vi.
14). Jeremiah was told by the Lord to get a linen
girdle, and put it upon his loins (Jer. xiii. 1). Solomon
had linen yarn brought out of Egypt (1 Kings x. 28 ;
2 Chron. i. 16). Ezekiel speaks of a cord or measuring-
line of flax (Ezek. xl. 3). Hosea also refers to flax as
used for making garments (Hos. ii. 5, 9).

The words translated " linen" and " fine linen" in these
passages are shesh or sheshi, bad, and butz. Some sup-

FLAX. 153

pose that shesh refers to hemp. The word resembles the
Arabic name haschesch, which is applied to hemp. There
is much difficulty in determining the sources whence the
linen of Scripture was derived. (See Hemp.)

The use of flax for wicks is referred to by Isaiah.
When describing the tenderness and love of the Saviour,
he says, " A bruised reed shall he not break, and the
smoking flax shall he not quench " (Isa. xlii. 3). This
passage is also quoted in Matthew xii. 20, the only place
in the New Testament where the word flax occurs.

In the New Testament, linen is mentioned on several
occasions. The Greek word in these passages is byssus.
It was in linen that the body of Christ was wrapped
(Matt, xxvii. 59; Mark xv. 46 , John xix. 40); and
the linen clothes were seen by the disciples when they
visited the tomb (Luke xxiv. 12 ; John xx. 57).

Fine linen constituted the clothing of the rich and
great in former times. Pharaoh arrayed Joseph in a
vesture of this kind (Gen. xli. 42). Mordecai went out
from the presence of the king with a garment of fine
linen (butz or buz) and purple (Esther viii. 15).

Fine linen (shesh) is mentioned by Isaiah and Ezekiel
as one of the luxuries of Judah, Jerusalem, and Tyre
(Isa. iii. 23; Ezek. xvi. 10, 13, xxvii. 7, 16). The
rich man was clothed in purple and fine linen (Luke
xvi. 19). Fine linen is recorded among the costly
merchandise of mystic Babylon, over the loss of which
the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn (Rev.
xviii. 12, 16). In the last two passages the word used
for fine linen is byssus.



(Boswellia thurifera, Colebr.)

" Calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense." SONG OF
SOL. iv. 14.

IRANKINCENSE is often mentioned in the
Bible. It was furnished by many trees,
especially by species of Boswellia. These have
been well described by Dr. Birdwood in the
" Transactions of the Linnsean Society," vol. xxvii., p. 111.
The Hebrew word for incense is lebonah. In Exodus
xxx. 34, pure frankincense is noticed as one of the
ingredients of the sweet spices of which the pure and
holy perfume was made after the art of the apothecary,
which was offered every morning and evening on the
altar of incense. In the Song of Solomon allusion is
made to frankincense (iii. 6, iv. 14). The word " incense"
meaning frankincense is also often used in the Old
Testament : " To what purpose cometh there to me
incense [frankincense] from Sheba [Arabia], and the
sweet cane [roosa] from a far country?" (Jer. vi. 20.)
" I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor



wearied thee with incense [frankincense]. Thou hast
brought me no sweet cane [roosa] with money" (Isa.
xliii. 23, 24). "The multitude of camels shall cover
thee, the dromedaries of Midian
and Ephah ; all they from Sheba
[Arabia] shall come : they shall
bring gold and incense" [frank-
incense] (Isa. Ix. 6). The wise
men from the east when they
came to worship Jesus " presented
unto him gifts; gold, frank-
incense, and myrrh" (Matt. ii. 11).
Frankincense is produced chiefly
in Arabia -Felix and the Soumali
country. There is a kind of frankincense called oli-
banum. It is the produce of Boswellia carterii and
Boswellia bhau-dajiana of Birdwood. The plants be-
long to the natural order Burseracese, the Myrrh family.

(Boswellia thurifera.)


(PolylopUum officinale, Bentli. and Hook.)
'Sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum." Ex. xxx. 34.

| HE Hebrew word chalbaneh, or chelbena, occurs
only once in the Bible, and it has been trans-
lated " galbanum." We know that it was used
along with other spices in forming " an oil of
holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the
apothecary... an holy anointing oil." It is by no means
clearly ascertained what the substance was. The gal-
banum of the present day is a fetid gum-resin procured
from an umbelliferous plant, and is imported from
India and the Levant. The substance occurs in irregular
pieces, about the size of a pea, which are usually agglu-
tinated into masses of a greenish-yellow colour, having
a strong disagreeable odour, and an acrid bitter taste.
Some authors name the plant Galbanum officinale.
The gum-resin exudes from the plant, and is collected
in tears. Many umbel-bearing plants yield gum-resins



GALBANUM. (PolylopMum officinak.)

of a similar character, which are used by Eastern
nations as condiments, although not very palatable to


(Citrullus colocynthis, Schrad.)

And gathered thereof wild gourds his lap fuiy' 2 KINGS iv. 39.

fa, fc, K *7 r^

| HE Hebrew word pakyotk, translated "wild
gourds," occurs in 2 Kings iv. 39, where it is
stated that when Elisha came to Gilgal he
told his servant to set on the great pot, and
seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets ; and that
" one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found
a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap-
full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage ; "
and that when they were eating it they cried out that
there was " death in the pot."

It is obvious, from the narrative, that the person who
went to gather the herbs had made a mistake in regard
to them, and had taken some nauseous and poisonous
fruit instead of what was wholesome. From a careful
examination of the Hebrew word and of the Arabic
version of it, commentators are disposed to think that
the wild gourd was the fruit of the colocynth plant, the
coloquintida or bitter apple, Cucumis or Citrullus colo-



cynthis of botanists. It belongs to the natural order
Cucurbitacese, the Cucumber family. The fruit of it is
used medicinally as an active purgative. It resembles a
wild vine, in its trailing mode of growth and in its
tendrils. Its fruit is round, orange-coloured, and tempt-
ing in appearance ; but the
pulp of it is very bitter,
and hurtful when taken
even in small quantities.
In all these respects, then,
it would agree with the
facts as given in the Scrip-
tures. It was probably mis-
taken for some of the other
species of cucumber or
gourd which have eatable
fruit. As the plant is not
generally diffused over
Palestine, it might be un-
known to the sons of the
prophets. In the tribe of
plants to which the cucum-
ber, melon, gourd, and
vegetable marrow belong,

there are several bitter, acrid, and even poisonous species.
Besides the colocynth, there is another, called the squirt-
ing cucumber, which acts as a poison. It receives its
name from the fact that when ripe the seeds are squirted
out from the interior of the fruit with great force, at the
point where the stalk is attached. Some authors think



that, as the Hebrew word is derived from the verb " to
burst," the plant may be this cucumber. In the young
state, the fruit is very like the young cucumbers called
gherkins. The fruit is a drastic purgative, and acts as a
poison. Both of these plants are found in Palestine;


and the colocynth, in particular, trails along the ground
in a luxuriant manner there. It abounds in the desert
parts of Syria, Arabia, and Persia, and on the banks of
the Euphrates and Tigris. Many miles of country are
sometimes covered with this plant, which bears a pro-


digious number of gourds. The fruit is imported into
this country from Smyrna, Trieste, France, and Spain.

There is also another species of cucumber having
similar properties, and called at the present day the
prophets' or globe cucumber Cucumis prophetarum
probably from an allusion to the statements in the Bible
relative to wild gourds. The fruit is small, being not
larger than a cherry. There is a Hebrew word, peJcaim,
translated "knops," which occurs in 1 Kings vi. 18, and
vii. 24, and which seems to be derived from paJcyoth.
These knops were of a rounded form, and were probably
made in imitation of the fruit of the wild gourd.



(Cannabis sativa, Linn.)

" Thy raiment was of fine linen." EZEK. xvi. 13.

(HE Hebrew word shesh or sheshi, translated
"fine linen," occurs, according to Royle, twenty-
eight times in Exodus, once in Genesis, once
in Proverbs, and three times in Ezekiel.
This fine linen was spun by women, as mentioned in
Exodus xxxv. 25, where it is said, " All the women that
were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought
that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple,
and of scarlet, and of fine linen." Ezekiel says of Tyrus,
" Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was that
which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail " (Ezek. xxvii.
7). The material of which this fine linen was wrought
is considered by many to have been the produce of the
hemp plant. This is rendered probable also by the simi-
larity between shesh and the Arabic word haschesch, which
is applied to hemp. Hemp consists of the fibres of
Cannabis sativa, a plant belonging to the natural order
Urticaceae or nettleworts. It is a native of Persia, and



is now extensively cultivated in Europe as well as in
India. The variety cultivated in India is sometimes
called Cannabis indica, and is remarkable for its
narcotic qualities. The dried flowering tops of the
female plant from which the resin has been removed are
used to form a medicinal extract and tincture. The

HEMP, (Cannabis sativa,)

resinous matter covering the leaves is called churrus;
and the names bhang, gunjah, and haschesch, are given to
the dried plant in different states. It seems likely that
the hemp plant was cultivated in Egypt in ancient times
as well as the flax plant ; but accurate information on

164 HEMP.

the subject is still wanting. The Hebrew word bad
is also translated "linen." Thus it occurs in Exodus
xxxix. 28, where it is said that they made for Aaron
and his sons " a initre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets
of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen."
The Hebrew word butz or buz is also translated " fine
linen " and " white linen," as in 1 Chronicles iv. 2 1 ;
Esther i. 6 ; Ezekiel xxvii. 16, etc. In the New Testa-
ment the Greek word byssus is translated " fine linen,"
as in Luke xvi. 19 ; Kev. xviii. 12, 16, and xix. 8, 14.
(See also Flax.)


(Crocus sativus, Linn.)

" Thy plants are... spikenard and saffron." SONG OP SOL. iv. 13, 14.

|HE Hebrew word karcom or carcom occurs in the
Song of Solomon iv. 14, where it is trans-
lated " saffron." It is there mentioned along
with other fragrant substances and spices, as
spikenard, calamus, cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, and
aloes. In the Greek it is rendered by the word krokos,
and the Arabic name is so/ran. The plant is the Crocus
sativus of botanists. It belongs to the natural order
Iridacese or Iris family. It is mentioned by ancient
classical authors, and it has been cultivated from the
earliest times in Asiatic countries. At the present day
it is grown extensively in Persia and Kashmir. The
saffron of commerce is imported from Spain, France, and
Naples. It is a portion of the central part of the flower
called the style or the stigma. This portion is removed
and dried. It is of an orange-brown colour, and has a
powerful aromatic odour. When rubbed on a moist-
ened finger, it tinges it intensely orange-yellow. Cake


saffron is formed by the stigmas being pressed together,
and is imported from Persia into India. In Eastern
countries saffron was highly esteemed as a kind of spice,
which was used along with food. In India at the
present day saffron from Kashmir is employed to colour
and flavour native dishes. The cultivation of the saffron
crocus was recommended by ancient writers as a means
of attracting bees. The plant is cultivated in England,
as at Saffron- Walden in Essex, which receives its name
from that circumstance. Costly perfumes were made
from the plant. Rosenmuller says that "not only
saloons, theatres, and places which were to be filled with
a pleasant fragrance, were strewed with this substance,
but all sorts of vinous tinctures retaining the scent were
made of it; and the perfume was poured into small
fountains, which diffused a highly-esteemed odour. Even
fruit and comfitures placed before guests, and the orna-
ments of the rooms, were spiced over with it. It was
used for the same purposes as the modern pot-pourri."
Saffron is used medicinally in the form of tincture and
as an ingredient of aromatic powder.

The fragrance of this plant and others is used in
Scripture to shadow forth the graces of the Christian as
brought out by the Sun of Righteousness, and by the
breathing of the Spirit, who blows upon the garden and
makes the spices thereof flow out.


(Ervum lens, Linn.)

'Jacob gave Esau... pottage of lentiles." GEN. xxv. 34.

1HE Hebrew word adashim occurs in several
places in the Old Testament, and it has been
translated " lentiles " or " lentils." These are the
seeds of a kind of pulse called Ervum lens or
Lens esculenta by botanists. The plant is the phakos of the
Greek, the addas of the Arabic. It is an annual, and is
the smallest of the cultivated plants of the pea-tribe. It
flowers in May and ripens its fruit in July. The seeds
contained in the pods are small and flattened, resembling
a double-convex lens or magnifying glass ; hence their
name. The plant belongs to the natural order Legumin-
osse, sub-order Papilionacese. It is cultivated in the
south of Europe, Bombay, Egypt, and the Levant.
Virgil in the " Georgics " speaks of the Pelusian lentile.
It is sometimes used as fodder in England; and an
attempt was made not long ago to raise it as pulse in a
sheltered locality in Scotland. It is a weak plant,
attaining a height of eighteen inches, supporting itself


by tendrils which twine round other plants. Its leaves
are compound, with usually eight pairs of leaflets in
each, and have lanceolate, fringed stipules. The pe-
duncles are usually two-flowered, and are about as long
as the leaves. The flowers are purple and pea-like.

LENTILES. (Ervum lens.)

The fruit is a short pod containing two or three seeds.
The seeds supply nutritious food, and are employed for
making pottage, which is of a yellowish hue or reddish
colour. The red pottage which Jacob supplied to Esau,


and for which the latter sold his birthright, was made
of lentiles (Gen. xxv. 29-34).

Lentiles were cultivated like pease and beans, and
we find in 2 Sam. xxiii. 11, an allusion to a field of
lentiles which was protected from the Philistines by
Shammah, one of David's mighty men. Lentiles are
noticed among the provisions brought by Shobi, Machir,
and Barzillai to David, when he was in the wilderness
on account of the rebellion of Absalom (2 Sam. xvii. 28).

In times of scarcity lentiles were mixed with wheat,
barley, millet, and fitches, in making bread (Ezek. iv. 9).
In the southern parts of Egypt it appears that lentiles
with a little barley formed almost the only bread used
by the poorer classes. Some of the paintings on the
tombs of the ancient Egyptians represent the cooking of
lentiles and the preparation of pottage from them.

In some Roman Catholic countries lentiles are used as
food during Lent ; and some say that the name of the
season is derived from this circumstance.

The Arabs have a tradition that the place where Esau
sold his birthright is in Hebron, near the cave of Mach-
pelah ; and it is said that a college of dervises near the
spot daily cook pottage of lentiles mixed with pot-herbs,
for distribution among the poor.



(Ruta graveolens, Linn.)

"Ye tithe mint and rue." LUKE xi. 42.

| HE Greek word peganon, translated "rue," occurs
once in Scripture, in Luke xi. 42, "But woe
unto you, Pharisees ! for ye tithe mint and
rue, and all manner of herbs, and pass over
judgment and the love of God : these ought ye to have
done, and not to leave the other undone." In the
parallel passage, Matthew xxiii. 23, anethon or dill
(translated "anise"), is named instead of rue. No doubt
both were mentioned by our Lord, and each is recorded
by a different evangelist. Both of these herbs were
cultivated in Eastern gardens, as they are at the present
day. Rue is a strong-scented plant (Ruta graveolens of
botanists) which abounds in oil. The plant belongs to
the natural order Rutacese. The plants belonging to
the rue family are remarkable for the volatile oil which
they yield. One of them, the dittany or fraxinella
(Dictamnus fraxinella), is said to give out so much oily
vapour in a warm, still evening, that the air around it



becomes inflammable. Rue grows wild in the south of
Europe and in Palestine. Hasselquist mentions having
seen it on Mount Tabor. It is cultivated as a pot-herb,
and more especially as a sort of spice or condiment to be
used along with food. In old times an arorna was
imparted to wine by means of rue. It is also a medi-

RUE. (Ruta graveolens.)

cinal plant, and has been prescribed to allay spasms.
Oil of rue is distilled in England from the fresh leaves
and the unripe fruit. It has a pale yellow colour, a
disagreeable odour, and a bitter, acrid taste. The tith-
ing of it by the Pharisees calls for the same remarks
that have already been made regarding mint, anise, and
cummin. They were very particular in regard to out-

172 RUE.

ward, legal observances, and even went beyond what was
required ; but, alas ! they had not the spirit of the com-
mandment in their hearts. They neglected weightier
matters, judgment and the love of God; and they
brought upon themselves the condemnation of our Lord.
Hue was anciently called "herb of grace," and it is
referred to under this name by Shakespeare :

" Here in this place
I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace."

From this we have the word rue, meaning repentance,
which is needful to obtain God's grace. (Prior on Popu-
lar Names of Plants.)


(Mentha sylvestris, Linn.}

" Ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin." MATT, xxiii. 23.

| HE Greek word heduosmon, or heduosmos,
which means " having a sweet smell," occurs
in two passages of the New Testament,
Matthew xxiii. 23, and Luke xi. 42, and has
been translated " mint." It corresponds with the Latin
mentJia. The species of mint most common in Syria is
that represented in the figure, and called by botanists
Mentha sylvestris. It is often cultivated in gardens, and
it is generally distributed over Europe, and reaches even
to Kashmir. It is likewise found in Britain. The plant
belongs to the natural order Labiatse. It is an erect
plant, with opposite, nearly sessile, ovate, lanceolate, and
downy leaves, which are whitish below. The spikes of
flowers are dense, and have a conically-cylindrical form.
Another species is also common in Palestine, and is called
field-mint (Mentha arvensis). The species of mint have
all carminative qualities. They grow usually in damp
places, and have reddish flowers arranged in spikes or



Mint was much used as a condiment in ancient times,
from its aromatic qualities, in the same way as it is em-
ployed at the present day for a sauce to lamb. Pliny
mentions it as highly esteemed. It was easily propagated,
and its cultivation was attended with very little expense.

In Scripture it is noticed
along with other sweet herbs,
such as anise or dill, cummin
and rue, which are commonly
found in European gardens at
the present day.

The giving of the tenth part
to the Lord was enjoined on
the Jews; and the Pharisees
were very particular as to the
letter, tithing even the smallest
products of the garden : but
they did it not in a right
spirit ; for they neglected the
weightier matters of the law
judgment, mercy, and truth.
These ought they to have done, and not to leave the
others undone.

Lady Callcott, in her "Scripture Herbal," says : "I know
not whether mint was originally one of the bitter herbs
with which the Israelites ate the paschal lamb ; but the
use of it with roast lamb, particularly about Easter time,
inclines me to suppose it was."

MINT. (Mcntha sylvestris.')


(Narcissus tazetta, Linn.}

" I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." SONG OF SOL. ii. 1.

] HE Hebrew word chabazzeleth, or chabatseleth,
has been translated "rose" in our version of
the Bible. It is met with in two passages of
the sacred volume ; in the Song of Solomon
ii. 1, "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the
valleys;" and in Isaiah xxxv. 1, "The wilderness and
the solitary place shall be glad for them ; and the desert
shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose." It would appear,

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