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§ 73. The pomegranate. 81
and comes to maturity in August. III. The winter fig, which germinates in August, and does not ripen until the falling of the leaves, which is about the end of November. It is longer and of a browner colour, than the others. All figs when ripe, but especially the untimely, fall spontaneously, Nahum 3: 12. The early figs are eaten, but some are dried in the sun and preserved in masses, which are called to:27, 1:27, 1 Sam. 25: 18, 30: 12. 2 K. 20:7. 1 Chron. 12:40. The parable in Luke 13. 6. et seq. is founded in the oriental mode of gardening; and the method of improving the palm, whose barrenness may be remedied in the way there mentioned, is transferred to the fig-tree.
Note—The sycamore, topo, in size and figure resembles the mulberry-tree, and is very common not only in Egypt, but in Judea, especially in the low lands, 1 Chron. 27:28. 2 Chron. 1: 15. 9:27. Ps. 78: 47. Its body is large and its branches numerous, growing nearly in a horizontal direction; by means of its branches it is easy of ascent, Luke 19: 4, 5. It is always green. Its wood, which is of a dark hue, endures a thousand years, and was therefore much used in building, 1 Chron. 27:28. Is. 9; 10. Its fruit, which does not spring from the branches and among the leaves, but from the trunk itself, resembles the fig, though it is destitute of seeds. It is very luscious, and hence hurtful to the stomach : it is not, therefore, eaten, except for the want of something better. The fruit does not ripen unless it is opened, biz, by the nail or a piece of iron, so that the juice, which resembles milk, may be emitted; then, as the wound grows black, it comes to maturity, Am. 7: 14. The tree is very productive, yielding its fruits seven times a year, and affording a supply of food for the poor, during four months of the year; comp. my Arabic Chrestomathy, p. 114.
The tree, which bears this name, grows in Persia, Arabia,
Egypt, and Palestine. It it not a tall tree, and at a little distance
from the ground, shoots out into a multitude of branches; in con
sequence of which, it is considered by some merely a shrub. The
fruit it bears is very beautiful to the eye, and pleasant to the pal
ate ; it is about the size of a large apple, say, two or three inches 82 § 74. The BALsAM.
in diameter, and is encircled at the upper part with something resembling a crown. At first it exhibits a green appearance, but in August and September it appears of a reddish colour, approximating to a brown; the rind is thick and hard, but easily broken. The interior of the pomegranate is of a yellow colour. There seems to be a number of internal rinds, which are soft and rich, and afford a juice, which from its effect on the palate may be called bittersweet. The seeds are sometimes white, and sometimes purple, Num. 20: 5. Deut. 8:8. The artificial pomegranates, made to resemble the natural ones, were no small ornament, Exod. 28:33, 34. 1 K. 7: 18.
Note. Citron and orange-trees appear to have been transplanted at some recent period from Persia into Palestine. Had they been native productions of Palestine, the Hebrews clearly would not have wanted a name for them; for the phrase, or y; one the fruit of a goodly tree, Lev. 23:40, means neither the citron nor the orange, but the fruit of any rich tree whatever, for instance the pomegranate or date.
§ 74. The BALsAM.
The balsam is both a fruit and a tree. The odoriferous balsam, so salutary in some cases to health, Heb. *-x, is not gathered from the tree in Yemen called by the Arabic name Abu Shamm, but is distilled from a fruit, which is indigenous on the mountains of Mecca and Medina.
The fruit, which produces this distillation, was found to be cultivated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Egypt, at Matara, not far from Grand Cairo, in gardens. That it was cultivated in this way at a very ancient period in Gilead, and also in the vicinity of Jericho and Engedi, appears from many passages of scripture, Gen. 37:25. 43. 11. Jer. 8:22. 46: 11. 51:8; see also the History of Tacitus, Bk. V. c. 6. Josephus in his Jewish War, Bk. IV. c. 8. § 3. compared with his Antiquities, Bk. VIII. c. 6. § 6. Bk. XX. c. 4. § 2. —Pliny's Natural Hist. Bk. XII. 2. Diodorus Siculus, XIX. c. 98. Strabo 763, and Justin Trogus, XXXVI. c. 2. So that the bonjectures and statements, brought against what is here stated, cannot hold. There are three species of the
balsam, two are shrubs, the other is a tree. They yield their sap in June, July, and August, which is received into an earthen vessel. The fruit also, when pierced by some instrument, emits a juice of the same kind, and in more abundance, but less rich. The sap, extracted from the body of the tree or shrub, is called the opobalsamum; the juice of the balsam fruit is denominated carpobalsamum, and the liquid, extracted from the branches when cut off, the zylobalsamum.
The palm-tree is very common in the countries of the East and in Africa. It is not very frequently found in Palestine at the present day; the reason is, a want of cultivators. It requires men, who are skilful and experienced, to make a palm grove flourishing and productive. At a very early period, however, they were quite numerous even in Palestine. This we may learn from Lev. 23:40. Deut. 34: 3. Judg. 1: 16. 3: 13. 4:6. and from many profane writers; and also from the ancient coins of the Jews and Romans, which exhibit the palm, a sheaf of wheat, and a cluster of grapes, as the symbols of the Jewish nation. The palm flourishes most in a warm climate, and in case there is a sufficiency of water, in clayey, sandy, and nitrous soils. It is, therefore, commonly found most flourishing in vallies and plains, Exod. 15:27. It ascends very straight, and very lofty, being destitute of limbs, except very near the top, where it is surmounted with a crown of foliage, that is always green. The figure of the palm-tree was carved in ornamental work, 1 K. 6:32; and it is used figuratively, as a symbol of a beautiful person, Cant. 7: 8. and also of a religious, upright man, Ps. 1: 3. 92: 12. The dates grow on small stems, which germinate at the angles formed by the stock of the tree and the branches. Palm trees exhibit what may be termed a sexual distinction, and, in order to any fruits being produced, the seed from the flowers of the masculine palm must be borne at the proper season to the tree of an opposite character. If this is not done, or if it happen too early or too late, the female palm, like the male, bears no fruit. The productions of the palm are large clusters of dates, which become ripe in August, September, and October. Some of the dates are eaten in their crude state; the rest 84 § 76. TeREbiNths AND pistacias.
are strained through a press woven of osiers, and after the juice is forced out, are reduced into solid masses, and are preserved. The juice pressed out is the date wine, formerly very celebrated ; under which name was also comprehended the beverage, which was procured from clusters of dry dates steeped in warm water, and then pressed. The Hebrews at the feast of tabernacles bore palm branches in their hands; they also strewed them in the way before the kings, as they entered on public occasions into their cities, Lev. 23:40. 1 Mac. 13:51. Matt. 21:8. The Greeks gave a branch of the palm to those, who conquered in the games, comp. Rev. 7: 9. This tree is regarded by the orientals, of all others as the most excellent and noble. Hence the saying from the branch, i. e. the palm branch, to the rush or reed, expressions which are interchangeable with the head and tail, asyl es-, and mean the same thing, as the phrase “from the highest to the lowest,” Is. 9: 14. 19: 15.
§ 76. Terebinths ANd Pistacias.
Terebinths are called in Heb. jobs, Eos, Hès, &c. which words are sometimes confounded and interchanged with Hox and jors, which mean the oak. The terebinths are a large tree, are loaded with branches and foliage, and are green through the whole year. They live a thousand years, and when they die, leave in their place a scion, which in time spreads a like luxuriance of foliage, and lives to a like number of years; so that, where they once appear, they may be said to be perpetuated. It was for this reason, viz. the comparative perpetuity, which was attached to them, that places were denominated from them, as from cities, Gen. 13: 18. Judg. 6: 11. 1 Sam. 10:3. Is. 6: 13. Ezek. 6. 13. They are used figuratively as symbols of the good, who in Is. 61: 3, are called terebinths of righteousness, Prix **s.
The pistacia is a tree, very much like the terebinth. It bears a very rich species of nuts; which hang in clusters, Dotz, Gen. 43: 11. and which become ripe in October. They somewhat resemble almonds in appearance, but are of a much better flavour; and are, therefore, most valued by the orientals. Walnuts, 153s, are common in Palestine; but hazel nuts are scarce, if indeed they are found there at all. The word to, which some suppose to mean the hazel nut, is the name of the almond.
§ 77. BEES AND Honey. 85
§ 77. Bees AND HoNey.
Palestine has been often called the land flowing with milk and honey. This is a proverbial expression, and is applied to any fruitful land, for instance, Egypt in Num. 16:13. Still it must be confessed, that bees were very numerous in Palestine, not only in the hives, which were built for them of clay mixed with broken straw, but frequently in the woods, in the hollow trees, and the fissures of rocks, Deut. 32: 13. Ps, 81: 17. They possess a keen animosity, and a very efficient sting, and when they have a disposition, attack to good purpose individuals and even large bodies of men. They are consequently used by a figure of speech to represent violent and ferocious enemies, Deut. 1:44. Ps. 118: 11, 12. They could be allured, by any thing that made a tinkling sound, to any particular place, Is. 7: 18. The Hebrews took great care of these little animals; as is evident from the abundance of honey which they possessed, and were able to exchange in their traffic with the Tyrians, Ezek. 27: 17. Hence honey is often mentioned in the Bible, both the comb, box nei, usAidotov xngiov, and the liquid honey, Flax, rat. It should be remarked, that the word wai, which means liquid honey, may also mean the sirup of dates and must, Gen. 43: 11. Wild honey, us?, dyguov, r-h: Eaori, is likewise spoken of 1 Sam. 14:25–27. Matt. 3:4. This was not the honey of bees, found in the fissures of rocks; for this occurs underathe phrase, stoo sini, Deut. 32: 13. Ps, 81: 17. Nor was it the liquid manna, called terengabin, although this manna was formerly comprehended under the common word for honey. It is what has been called the honey dew, i. e. the excrements, which certain little insects, called by Linneus, Aphides, emit very copiously upon the leaves of trees, so much that it flows down upon the ground, 1 Sam. 14: 15–27. The ancients used honey instead of sugar, and loved it much; it is hence used tropically as an image of pleasure and happiness, Ps. 119: 103. Prov. 24: 13, 14. Cant. 4: 11. When taken in great quantities it causes vomiting, and is consequently used by a figure
to express fastidiousness, or any nauseating sensation, Prov. 25: 16, 17.