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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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MANDRAKE ( dûdâ’îm , Genesis 30:14 f., Song of Solomon 7:13 ; RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘love apples,’ cf. root dôdîm , ‘love’). Although other plants have been suggested, the mandrake ( Mandragora officinarum ), of the Solanaceœ or Potato order, is most probable. It is a common plant in all parts of S. Palestine. Its long and branched root is very deeply imbedded in the earth, and an old superstition survives to-day that he who digs it up will be childless but at the same time the effort of pulling it up will cure a bad lumbago. When the last fibres give way and the root comes up a semi-human scream is supposed to be emitted (cf. also Jos. [Note: Josephus.] BJ VII. vi. 3). Occasionally the root resembles a human figure, but most of those exhibited have been ‘doctored’ to heighten the resemblance. The leaves are dark green, arranged in a rosette, and the flowers dark purple. The fruit, which ripens about May, about the time of the wheat harvest, is somewhat like a small tomato, and orange or reddish in colour: it is called by the natives baid el-jinn , ‘the eggs of the jinn .’ It has a heavy narcotic smell and sweetish taste. It is still used medicinally, but is known to be poisonous, especially the seeds. The mandrake was known to the ancients as an aphrodisiac (see p. 569 b ).

E. W. G. Masterman.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Mandrake'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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