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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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GALL (χολή, fel).—

In LXX Septuagint χολή represents (1) רא̇שׁ (Deuteronomy 32:32, Psalms 69:21); and (2) לַעֵנָה wormwood (Proverbs 5:4, Lamentations 3:15). ״ְ̇שׁ and לַעִנִה are sometimes combined, e.g. Deuteronomy 29:18 רא̇שׁ ולעֲנָה, LXX Septuagint ἐν χολῇ και τικρια, Vulgate fel et amaritudiaem; Lamentations 3:19 לִעֲנָה וָרא̇שׁ, LXX Septuagint τικρια καὶ χολἡ, Vulgate absynthiiet fellis.

It thus appears that χολή was used of any bitter drug, and there is therefore no discrepancy between Matthew 27:34 οἶνον [ὄξος is a copyist’s assimilation to Psalms 69:21] μετὰ χολῆς μεμιγμένον, and Mark 15:23 ἐσμυρνισμένον οἶνον. The potion administered to the cruciarius (see Crucifixion) was composed of wine and a variety of drugs—frankincense, laudanum, myrrh, resin, saffron, mastich.* [Note: Wetstein on Mark 15:23.] Thus ‘wine mixed with gall’ and ‘myrrhed wine’ are equivalent phrases, signifying generally medicated wine (cf. Swete, St. Mark, ad loc.). Matthew 27:34 and Acts 8:23 are the only places in the NT where χολή occurs.

David Smith.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Gall'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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