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(Allium porrum, Linn.)

'We remember... the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks."
NUM. xi. 5.

|HE Hebrew word chatzir, chazir, or chajir,
occurs frequently in the Old Testament, and
has been translated " leeks " in Numbers xi. 5,
where the Israelites are represented as sigh-
ing for the good things of Egypt. The word, however,
is rendered differently in other places. Thus in 1 Kings
xviii. 5; 2 Kings xix. 26; Job xl. 15; Ps. xxxvii. 2, xc.

5, ciii. 15, civ. 14, cxxix. 6, cxlvii. 8; Isa. xxxvii. 27, xl.
68, xliv. 4, li. 12, it is translated "grass;" in Job viii.

12, it is rendered "herb;" in Prov. xxvii. 25, and Isa. xv.

6, it is by mistake translated " hay , " and in Isa. xxxiv.

13, it is rendered " court." The word is derived from a
root which means " to be green," and hence it is con-
sidered as referring to a green vegetable like grass ; and
it is probable that the word " court" in Isaiah may have
reference to a sort of pasture court. The most ancient
Greek translators use the word prasa or "leeks" to repre-
sent the Hebrew term chatzir ; and it seems likely that

LEEK. 201

in Numbers, from its association with onions, leeks might
be intended, more especially as these vegetables were
commonly used at that time in Egypt.

The plant which supplies the leek is the Allium
porrum of botanists. It belongs to
the natural order Liliacese, the Lily
family. It has grass-like leaves, and
its flowers occur in rounded heads.
The plant was used as a seasoning to
soups in the time of the Romans.
It is indigenous in the countries bor-
dering on the Mediterranean. In
Egypt it thrives well, and the in-
habitants eat their leek and barley
bread with avidity. It was intro-
duced into Britain in 1562. The
leek was sacred in Egypt, and some
have suggested that it was not likely
the Israelites would be permitted to
eat it there. Lady Callcott says that
these plants never were objects of
general worship. "They were for

LEEK. (Allium porrum.)

the most part reverenced on account
of their being dedicated to, or symbolic of, some well-
known deity ; much in the way in which a Welshman
reverences his leek, the emblem of Wales, and wears it
on St. David's Day. That compliment paid, however,
he would never think of denying himself the pleasure of
eating his leek ; and no doubt the ancient Egyptians and
their bondsmen made equally free with their savoury gods."



(Allium cepa, Linn.)

" We remember... the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the
onions." NUM. xi. 5.

[HE Hebrew plural word 'betzalim occurs in
Numbers xi. 5, and has been translated
" onions." There .seems to be no doubt of the
correctness of the rendering. The Arabic
word is basl or bassal, which is nearly allied to the
Hebrew betzal ; and it has been rendered by the Greek
word krommyon, applied to the onion. The plant is the
Allium cepa belonging to the natural order Liliacese, the
Lily family. It is a bulbous plant, having its bulbs
covered with brown scales ; its leaves are tubular or
hollow, and its flowers are produced in rounded clusters.
It has stimulant, acrid, and pungent qualities, and has
been long cultivated in the south of Europe and in the
north of Asia.

The Egyptians had a superstitious veneration for
onions. When onions become very large, as in Portugal,
they lose much of their acrid qualities, and become



bland articles of food when cooked. Hasselquist says :
" Whoever has tasted
onions in Egypt must
allow that none can be had
better in any part of the
universe." While the su-
perstitious inhabitants of
Egypt reverenced these
productions of the soil,
the children of Israel
lusted after them in the ONIONS.-^ cep a.)

desert, and murmured

against the Lord who had delivered them, and who
could supply all their need.


(Tritkum sativum, Linn.; var. compositum.)

"A land of wheat and barley." DEUT. viii. 8.

| HE Hebrew word chittah occurs in many places
of the Old Testament, and has been properly
translated "wheat." There is also another
word, kemachy which means " flour of wheat,"
and which is translated in Genesis xviii. 6 " fine meal."
The first distinct notice of wheat in the Bible is in
Genesis xxx. 14, where an allusion is made to "wheat
harvest." Wheat is a common grain in Egypt, Syria,
and other Eastern countries, and is considered as having
had an Asiatic origin. It is not known in a wild state.
Palestine is spoken of as " a land of wheat" (Deut. viii. 8),
and as producing abundantly corn, wine, and oil (Deut.
vii. 13, etc.); and the purest wheat or wheat flour is
noticed under the name of " the fat of wheat "(Ps. Ixxxi.
16, cxlvii. 14, marginal readings), and the kidney-fat,
or "the fat of kidneys of wheat" (Deut. xxxii. 14).

Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures,
or cors (probably about a thousand pecks), of fine flour,



and threescore measures, or cors, of meal (1 Kings iv. 22).
In 1 Kings v. 11, it is mentioned that Solomon gave
Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to
his household year by year ; and in 2 Chronicles ii. 1 0,
it is stated that a similar amount of beaten wheat was
given to Hiram's servants who were employed to cut

WHEAT. (Triticum sativum.)

timber on Mount Lebanon. Wheat from Minnith, a
place situated in the domain of the king of Ammon, was
famous, and is referred to by Ezekiel as being brought
by the Jews to Tyre (Ezek. xxvii. 17). When king
Jotham overcame the Ammonites he received from them,



as part of the tribute, ten thousand measures of wheat.

In the Bible the words corn
and parched or roasted corn
are frequently used. In many
passages they seem to refer to
bread corn ; that is, wheat.

The common wheat is Tri-
ticum vulgare, the variety
called Triticum oestivum, or
spring wheat, being sown in
spring, and that called Tri-
ticum hybernum, winter wheat,
being sown in autumn. The
plant belongs to the natural
order Graminese, or the Grass
family. There are numerous
varieties of wheat in culti-
vation. In Pharaoh's dream
the seven ears on one stalk
appear to refer to the variety
of wheat commonly culti-
vated in Egypt, and called
Triticum compositum. This
branching variety of wheat
helps to explain the allusion
in Genesis xli. 5-7, 22-24,
and 27. Grains of wheat are
found in mummy cases in
but there is no evi-

WHEAT. (Triticum compositum,)

dence that any of those put in along with the mummy

WHEAT. 207

have retained their vitality. Grains taken from the
cases have no doubt germinated, and in Britain there
are many fields of what is called mummy-wheat, but
in all instances the grains have been tampered with by
guides, who have an interest in deceiving travellers.
Among some of the so-called mummy-wheat, grains of
Indian corn have actually been found. In no case have
any of those mummy-grains produced the Triticum

Reference is made in Leviticus ii. 14 and xxiii. 14 to
green ears of corn cut before they are ripe and dried by
the fire. It is said that in Lower Egypt, at the present
day, such green ears are used as food. Parched or
roasted corn is frequently eaten in Eastern countries.
When the children of Israel entered Canaan, they ate
parched corn (Joshua v. 11). This was one of the
articles of food brought to David in the camp at
Mahanaim (2 Sam. xvii. 28) ; and it was given to Ruth
by Boaz when she sat beside the reapers at their meal
(Ruth ii. 14).

'Corn is often referred to in the New Testament, and
under this name wheat was no doubt included, as well as
other kinds of grain, such as barley and spelt. From
the sowing, the sprouting, and the reaping of corn, many
important illustrations are drawn by our blessed Saviour
and his apostles (Matt. xiii. 3-23 ; Mark iv. 320 ; John
xii. 24). St. Paul employs the sprouting of grain to
illustrate the believer's resurrection body* (1 Cor. xv.
3644). Shibboleth, the word which was put as a test

* See Balfour's " Botany and Religion," 3rd edition, p. 51, et seq.

208 WHEAT.

to the Ephraimites (Judges xii. 6), is the Hebrew name
for an ear of corn.

Parched corn, under the name of kali, is referred to
in several passages of Scripture, as Lev. xxiii. 14 ; Ruth
ii. 14; 1 Sam. xvii. 17, xxv. 18. Some have supposed
the kali referred to the produce of the chick-pea, Cicer
arietinum. Dr. Thomson says that at the present day
parched corn is used during harvest. " It is made thus :
A quantity of the best ears, not too ripe, are plucked with
the stalks attached ; these are tied into small parcels ; a
blazing fire is kindled with dry grass and thorn bushes,
and the corn heads are held in it until the chaff is mostly
burned off. The grain is thus sufficiently roasted to be
eaten, and it is a favourite article all over the country.
...After it has been roasted, it is rubbed out in the hand
and eaten as there is occasion." (The Land and the
Book, p. 648.) The green ears of corn are also constantly
plucked and rubbed in the hands (Matt. xii. 1, 2 ; Mark
ii. 23 ; Luke vi. 1, 2) ; and the taking of them is not
considered an act of stealing.



(Tritkum Spelta, Linn.)

"The appointed barley and the rie [spelt] in their place." ISA. xxviii. 25.

KIND of wheat called spelt (Triticwm Spelta
of botanists) seems to be referred to under
the Hebrew name of Jmssemeth, which has
been translated "rye" in Exodus ix. 32, Isaiah
xxviii. 25, and "fitches" in Ezekiel iv. 9. Rye is a grain
of cold climates, and is not cultivated in the southern
parts of Europe.

Kussemeth was undoubtedly one of the cultivated
crops of Egypt and Syria, and was used as an article
of food. It seems to have been sown at the same
time as wheat, and is referred to in the seventh plague
of Egypt as not having been smitten, because, like the
wheat, it was not grown up. Ezekiel mentions it as
being used in making bread. Some have supposed that
the spelt was sown as a border round other kinds
of grain, and that allusion is made to this in Isaiah


210 SPELT.

xxviii. 25 (marginal reading). Spelt is a bearded kind
of wheat, and in this respect has a resemblance to rye.
The names olyra and zea were given to it by some
Greek authors. It is cultivated in the south of Germany.
The plant belongs to the natural order Graminese, the
Grass family.


(Hordeum distichon, Linn.)

" A land of wheat and barley." DEUT. viii. 8.

] ARLEY is another kind of grain mentioned both
in the Old and in the New Testament. It is re-
ferred to under the Hebrew name of seorah or
shoreh, and under the Greek name of Jcrithe.
It is the Hordeum distichon of botanists, and belongs to
the natural order Graminese, the Grass family. It is
mentioned along with common and spelt wheat. Oats
and rye, being northern plants, did not grow in Palestine.
The two-rowed barley is that which is most commonly
cultivated. Hordeum vulgare, bere, big or four-rowed
barley, and Hordeum hexastidion, six-rowed barley, are
confined to higher regions, and are not commonly culti-
vated in Britain. The bere, however, finds a place in
the present fiars of upwards of twenty counties in Scot-
land. Barley is one of the most ancient articles of diet.
It is often noticed along with wheat as occurring in
Palestine, and as having been used for food (Deut. viii.



8; 2 Chron. ii. 10, 15, xxvii. 5). Barley was grown
by the Egyptians and the Jews, and was
used for making bread and cakes. It was
mixed also with wheat, lentiles, and millet.
In 1 Kings iv. 28, barley is mentioned as
having been used as food for Solomon's
horses. Barley meal was employed in
certain instances as an offering (Num. v.
15). Barley bread served as food for the
common people; and the loaves which
were miraculously distributed to the mul-
titude by our Lord were made of barley
(John vi. 9, 13). The friends of David
brought barley to him when he fled from
Absalom (2 Sam. xvii. 28). Barley har-
vest is mentioned in Ruth i. 22, ii. 23 ;
and 2 Samuel xxi. 9, 10. This takes
place in Palestine about the end of March
or the beginning of April. The barley
ripens in Egypt about a month before the
wheat ; and hence it was destroyed by the
hailstones, while the wheat escaped (Ex.
ix. 31). Boaz measured six measures of
barley, and put it into Ruth's veil (Ruth
iii. 15). This veil was consequently made
of stronger material than veils in this

Barley bread was not much esteemed
by the Jews. Ezekiel says (xiii. 19),

"Will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls


(Hordeum distichon.)


of barley ?" probably referring to its small value,
In Gideon's dream a cake of barley bread is observed
to tumble into the host of Midian and smite it;
and the man's fellow says, "This is the sword of
Gideon." In speaking of the analogy between the cake
and the sword of Gideon, Dr. Thomson says : " As to
the line of connection in the mind of the ' interpreter,'
we may remember that barley bread is only eaten by the
poor and the unfortunate. Nothing is more common
than for these people, at this day, to complain that their
oppressors have left them nothing but barley bread to
eat... This cake of barley bread was therefore naturally
supposed to belong to the oppressed Israelites : it came
down from the mountain where Gideon was known to be;
it overthrew the tent so that it lay along, foreshadowing
destruction from some quarter or other. It was a con-
temptible antagonist, and yet scarcely more so than
Gideon in the eyes of the proud Midianites. That the
interpreter should hit upon the explanation given, is not
therefore very wonderful ; and if the Midianites were
accustomed, in their extemporaneous songs, to call Gideon
and his band 'eaters of barley bread,' as their successors,
these haughty Bedawin, often do to ridicule their enemies,
the application would be all the more natural." (The
Land and the Book, p. 449.) The low estimation in
which barley was held may be in some way implied in
its use in the jealousy-offering (Num. v. 15).


(Hebrew, Baosfiah.)

" Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley."
JOB xxxi. 40.

(HE Hebrew word baoshah, translated "cockle"
in the Authorized Version, is rendered "noi-
some weeds" by some. This is the marginal
reading in Job. In Isaiah v. 2, 4, benshin,
the plural of the word, occurs, and is translated "wild

Celsius traced the word to biseh, which is applied
to a kind of monkshood. Its name seems to have
been applied to a troublesome weed with an offensive
smell. The author of the " Scripture Garden Walk"
says : " The Greek word adopted in the Septuagint im-
plies a bush, or bramble, bearing berries. According to
Castalio, the tree was the dwarf elder ; and other com-
mentators have supposed other senses of the word."
Tristram suggests some species of arum which grows in
the fields of Palestine. There is no satisfactory trans-
lation of the word.


(Ricinus communis, Linn.; Cucurbita pepo, Linn.)

"The Lord prepared a gourd, and made it come up over Jonah."
JONAH iv. 6.

| HE Hebrew word kikayon, translated "gourd,"
occurs in the fourth chapter of the Book of
Jonah, verses 6, 7, 9, and 10. It is probably
the kiki of the Greeks, which is described
as a plant having leaves like a palm-tree, and seeds which
yield oil, contained in a rough seed-vessel. In character
and properties the plant corresponds with the castor-oil
plant, the Ricinus communis of botanists. The marginal
reading gives " palm-crist," which seems to be a corruption
of Palma Christi, another name for the castor-oil plant.
It belongs to the natural order Euphorbiacese, the Spurge
family. It is a native of Southern Europe, Palestine,
and India. In Europe generally it is cultivated in
greenhouses as an herb, and does not attain a large size ;
but in India and other warm climates it becomes arbor-
escent, so as to afford a shelter from the sun's rays. The
stem of the plant is usually soft, and is easily destroyed



by insects or worms. In China a peculiar fungus called
Hirneola auricula-Judce, used in soups, grows on the
decaying stems of the ricinus. The seeds of the plant
when bruised yield the oil called castor oil. The name of
kik oil is also applied to it. It is said that the modern
Jews in London use this oil for their Sabbath lamps.

CASTOR-OIL PLANT. (Ricinus communis.)

In place of the castor-oil plant it may be that the
common gourd (Cucurbita pepo) is meant. Tristram says
that in Palestine the name for the gourd is Jmrah, while
that for the castor-oil tree is khurwah, so that the sound

GOUKD. 217

of each is nearly identical, and hence there might be a
confusion as to the name on the part of the commen-

The gourd is constantly grown in Palestine now to
cover arbours, and its rapid growth and large leaves
render it very well fitted for affording shade. Jonah is
said to have made him a booth, and God prepared the
gourd to cover it. This undoubtedly seems rather to
confirm the idea that the common gourd and not the
castor-oil plant is referred to.

Many have been the disputes as to Jonah's gourd, and
it is impossible to decide the point with certainty. The
castor-oil plant seems, upon the whole, to fulfil the con-
ditions required ; and the cognate word in Greek helps
to decide the matter in some measure. The gourd was
prepared by the Lord miraculously for Jonah, in order
that its broad leaves might be a shadow over his head,
to protect him from the heat ; and the prophet, we are
told, was " exceeding glad of the gourd" (Jonah iv. 6). It
was a temporal blessing provided for him; but, alas! like
all creature comforts, it was fleeting. By the time the
sun rose next morning, a worm, by God's command, smote
the gourd that it withered. The destruction of the gourd,
and the removal of the shade, made Jonah angry, and he
wished in himself to die, and said, " It is better for me
to die than to live " (Jonah iv. 8). He grumbled at the
orderings of God's providence, and his proud heart rose
against God's dispensations. The lesson which God con-
veyed to Jonah is thus expressed : " Then said the Lord,
Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou


218 GOURD.

hast not laboured, neither madest it grow ; which came
up in a night, and perished in a night : and should not
I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than
sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between
their right hand and their left hand ; and also much
cattle?" (Jonah iv. 10, 11.)


(Cucumis sativus, Linn.)

We remember... the cucumbers and the melons." NUM. xi. 5.

1HE Hebrew word kishuim occurs twice in the
Old Testament, and has been translated " cu-
cumbers." The singular of the word is Jcisha,
which resembles the Arabic kissa, the name
for cucumber. In Greek the name is sicyos. It is the
Cucumis sativus, and belongs to the natural order Cucur-
bitacese, the Cucumber and Gourd family. It is called
ketimou and timou by the Hindus. It is a native of
Eastern countries, and was introduced into Britain in
1573. It is a trailing and climbing plant, with large
rough leaves, having tendrils. The plant was known in
very early times, and it was cultivated extensively in
Egypt. Hence the allusion made by the children of
Israel as recorded in Numbers xi. 5. They longed for
the cucumbers of Egypt. There are a great number of
varieties in cultivation. A species called Cucumis chafe
grows near Cairo after the inundation of the Nile, and
is said to yield a delicious fruit highly esteemed in



Egypt. This was probably used along with the common
cucumber, and is included in the Hebrew word. Egypt
may still be called a land of cucumbers. The guarding
of vineyards and cucumber beds is referred to by the
prophet Isaiah when he describes the desolation of Israel :
" The daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard,
as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers " (Isa. i. 8). Lady

CUCUMBER. (Cucumis sativus.)

Callcott remarks: " This statement of the prophet is con-
stantly recalled to the memory of the modern traveller
in Egypt by the vast plantations of cucumbers on the
banks of the Nile. There, as of old, the peasant has his
lodge, that he may water his rich plants with the shadoof,
or, as the scripture expresses it, * by the foot ' (Deut. xi.


1 0) ; and that he may guard his little property from the
robbers of the Nile, who, though of a different class, are
not less formidable to the cultivators than those of the
time of Herodotus." They all require to be protected
from wild animals, such as the jackals. The lodge
is stated to be constructed rudely of four poles, with
rafters laid across these ; and branches cut from olean-
ders, or matting, put on the top, to give shelter. When
the cucumbers are gathered, and the field is deserted,
Dr. Thomson says the poles fall down and lean every
way, and the green branches are scattered by the wind,
presenting a type of utter desolation. This covering is
the "booth which the keeper maketh," mentioned in
Job xxvii. 18. The young green fruit of the cucumber
is preserved as a pickle, under the name of gherkins,
which is a corruption of the German word gurke, mean-
ing cucumber.


(Papyrus antiquorum, Willd.)

" Can the rush [bulrush] grow up without mire ? " JOB viii. 11,

|HE Hebrew words gome and agmon occur in
several passages in the Old Testament, and
have been translated " bulrush," and " rush,"
and "flag." The word gome means originally
to soak or drink up, and it is therefore given to a plant
growing in watery and marshy places. In Isaiah xxxv.
7, it is noticed as a plant of wet places. It is supposed
to be the Papyrus antiquorum, which grew in large quan-
tity in Egypt among the mud of the Nile. The plant
has entangled, spreading roots, and underground stems,
which cause the mud to accumulate ; and by forming a
more or less solid clay it seems to drink up the water in
which it grows. The plant appears to have contributed
in no small degree to form the Delta of the Nile, and in
so doing it has become extinct, from want of wet mud
in which to grow. In Job viii. 11, it is said, "Can the
rush grow up without mire ? " It is found still in the
marshes of the White Nile in Nubia.



Tristram says that it is found in two places in Palestine,
in a swamp at the north end of the Plain of Gennesaret,
and in the marshes of the Huleh, the ancient Merom.
The Arabs call it babeer.

PAPYRUS PLANT. (Papyrus antiquorum.)

The plant belongs to the natural order Cyperaceae, or
the Sedge family.

The papyrus was used in Egypt for forming light



sorts of boats ; and hence, in Isaiah xviii. 2, " vessels of
bulrushes upon the waters " are mentioned. (See also
Pliny, xiii. 11, and Lucian, iv. 1 3 6.) Jochebed, the mother
of Moses, constructed an ark, or little covered boat, of
bulrushes, and in this the babe floated on the water of

the river (Ex. ii. 3). Boats are at the present day
constructed of various kinds of allied plants. Balsas, or
fishing-rafts used on the Pacific coast of South America,
are formed of the stalks of Scirpus lacustris. The
name "paper" is derived from the papyrus, which was
anciently used in its manufacture. The paper was made
by splitting up the stalks of the plant into thin slices


of cellular tissue, and then cementing them together.
The structure of the paper is the same as rice paper.
In Sicily, at the present day, there is a coarse paper
made from the papyrus.

The word agmon occurs in Isaiah ix. 14 and xix. 15,
where it is translated " rush ; " in Isaiah Iviii. 5, where
it is called " bulrush;" and in Job xli. 2, under the name
"hook." This last, according to some commentators,
should be translated, " Canst thou tie up his mouth with
a rush-rope ? " It seems to have been a kind of reed,
but it is not easy to pronounce upon the species. Some
consider it is similar to kaneh, translated "reed," and
look upon it as a species of arundo like the common
reed, or the variety of Arundo donax called cegyptiaca.

Royle says that "various species of reeds (arundo)
will suit the different passages in which this word agmon
occurs ; but several specks of saccharum, growing to a
great size in moist situations, and reed-like in appear-
ance, will also fulfil all the conditions required, as afford-
ing shelter for the behemoth or hippopotamus, being

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