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Welcome to our guest  blogger for the new year,
Vincenzina  Krymow, author and Bible Expert

 

WHY ARE PLANTS MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE?
By Vincenzina Krymow

In Genesis 1:9 we read that on the third day God planted a garden and filled it with “plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.”

The Bible contains hundreds of references to herbs, shrubs and trees. More than 125 different plants are mentioned, and they are mentioned hundreds of times. There are 78 references to the grapevine and grapes, 60 references to the olive tree and its fruit, and 42 references to the palm tree.These are not casual references. These plants are mentioned for a specific purpose.

Plants were used as symbols: The prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament used trees, vines, fruit and herbs to represent God’s goodness, his wrath and his mercy.

Thorns and prickly plants symbolized sin and its consequences.
The fruitful fig, olive and vine expressed God’s goodness in terms of a fertile land that yielded a bountiful crop.

A rich harvest was the reward of righteousness and barren land and trees were punishment for sinfulness.

The Hebrews were agrarian, so they were familiar with the plants and would have understood the symbolism and the messages. Plants were used to illustrate a point as in Jesus’ warning about tithing and his reference to the lily of the fields.

In Matthew 23:23 Jesus cries: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, (all of little value) and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.”

Again in Matthew ( 6: 28-29) Jesus asks: “And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.”

Plants mentioned as part of ritual use: In Exodus 30:22-25 we find the recipe for the anointing oil to be used for consecrating the Ark of the Covenant, the altar and the high priest.

Medicinal use of plants: There are few references to healing with herbs in the Bible – balm, figs and oil are the only plant products mentioned in relation to healing.

In Jeremiah 8:22 the prophet cries: “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician here?

Isaiah prescribes “a lump of figs” for King Hezekiah’s boil (38:21).
In 1:6 Isaiah speaks of “bruises and sores and bleeding wounds” that “have not been drained, or bound up, or softened with oil.”

The Israelites learned about healing with plants during their long exile in Egypt and would have used them for healing – this was the major medicine of the times.

Israeli biblical scholar Michael Zohary states that herbal remedies were numerous and specific in biblical times. They are not named in scripture because all healing was thought to come from God, and mentioning plants used for healing would “defy the belief in God’s exclusive healing power.”

(Vincenzina Krymow is the author of Healing Plants of the Bible: History, Lore and Meditations, illustrated by A. Joseph Barrish, S.M., with meditations by M. Jean Frisk, published by the St. Anthony Messenger Press.)

Here is the first paper for you to explore and download. It is brilliant and addresses the question…. What are the the Biblical Plants? Check out the chart on pages 7-15. Yes, it is long - skip to the chart - you will probably come back and read the text.  

                             Review of plant species cited in the Bible, Zofia Wlodarczyk
                                 Department of Ornamental Plants, Faculty of Horticulture
                                                                        Agricultural University in Kraków
INTRODUCTION
In 1737, Alexander Cruden wrote in Concordance: ‘nothing is less certain than the Hebrew names of plants in the Bible’. Although the studies on plant species appearing in the Bible have made some progress since then, however, as admitted by Zohary (1982) and Hepper (1992), even today one cannot be sure which plant species are referred to in many fragments of biblical texts. There exists no list of plants appearing in the Bible, often referred to as ‘biblical plants’, which could be accepted as completely indisputable. . Read more…….
http://www.ptno.ogr.ar.krakow.pl/Wydawn/FoliaHorticulturae/Spisy/FH2007/
PDF19012007/fh1901p07.pdf
Here is the first paper for you to explore and download. It is brilliant and addresses the question…. What are the the Biblical Plants? Check out the chart on pages 7-15. Yes, it is long - skip to the chart - you will probably come back and read the text.  

                             Review of plant species cited in the Bible, Zofia Wlodarczyk
                                 Department of Ornamental Plants, Faculty of Horticulture
                                                                        Agricultural University in Kraków
INTRODUCTION
In 1737, Alexander Cruden wrote in Concordance: ‘nothing is less certain than the Hebrew names of plants in the Bible’. Although the studies on plant species appearing in the Bible have made some progress since then, however, as admitted by Zohary (1982) and Hepper (1992), even today one cannot be sure which plant species are referred to in many fragments of biblical texts. There exists no list of plants appearing in the Bible, often referred to as ‘biblical plants’, which could be accepted as completely indisputable. . Read more…….
http://www.ptno.ogr.ar.krakow.pl/Wydawn/FoliaHorticulturae/Spisy/FH2007/
PDF19012007/fh1901p07.pdf

Creating a Bible Garden
by Vincenzina Krymow

Creating and growing a bible garden is not difficult. And it’s not too early to start planning your garden.

Actually the bible garden at our house came about by default.
I had established a vegetable and herb garden on the south side of our house shortly after we moved in. I loved it, and grew anything I wanted. But after some years I realized that my vegetable plants weren’t growing as well as they had and after some discussion/exploration, realized that the area, while looking good, was a subterranean jungle of roots and vines, coming from both sides of the garden, where our evergreen shrubs were not only entrenched, but branching out underground.

After several attempts to sever those unwelcome roots, I gave in and let them be. I found that herbs did well here, and as I had become interested in bible plants, began to plant herbs and plants - their shallow roots did not mind the underground jungle.
I grew my basil and parsley; mint was no problem. Oregano, dill, chives, even flax were happy there. Dandelions volunteered.

During this time I had been volunteering at Cox Arboretum and Gardens. A small area in the herb garden was devoted to biblical herbs and I helped tend them. I decided to add flax, chamomile and sage to my own garden.

After a few years we left our home and gardens - I had a Mary Garden in the back, and perennials in several locations. Crocus, narcissus and ivy, all bible plants, grew among them.

Our new home, a condo, included a large enclosed patio with an Eastern exposure. My bible garden is smaller, and I still have my herbs, but now they grow in pots.
You, too, can have a bible garden. As you can see, I’ve grown and tended biblical herbs in various settings. Select your site and start planning!

Send your questions and report on your progress at this web site:
biblicalgardens@biblicalgardens.com

(Vincenzina Krymow is the author of Healing Plants of the Bible: History, Lore and Meditations, illustrated by A. Joseph Barrish, S.M., with meditations by M. Jean Frisk, published by the St. Anthony Messenger Press.)

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