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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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כפר . Greek, κυπρος . Latin cyprus. Song of Solomon 1:14 ; Song of Solomon 4:13 . Sir T. Browne supposes that the plant mentioned in the Canticles, rendered κυπρος in the Septuagint, and cyprus in the vulgate, is that described by Dioscorides and Pliny, which grows in Egypt, and near to Ascalon, producing an odorate bush of flowers, and yielding the celebrated oleum cyprinum. [A sweet oil made of the flowers of the privet tree.] This is one of the plants which is most grateful to the eye and the smell. The deep colour of its bark, the light green of its foliage, the softened mixture of white and yellow with which the flowers, collected into long clusters like the lilac, are coloured; the red tint of the ramifications which support them, form an agreeable combination. The flowers, whose shades are so delicate, diffuse around the sweetest odours, and embalm the gardens and apartments which they embellish. The women take pleasure in decking themselves with them. With the powder of the dried leaves they give an orange tincture to their nails, to the inside of their hands, and to the soles of their feet. The expression, עשתה אתאּ?צפרניה , rendered "pare their nails." Deuteronomy 21:12 , may perhaps rather mean, "adorn their nails;" and imply the antiquity of this practice. This is a universal custom in Egypt, and not to conform to it would be considered indecent. It seems to have been practised by the ancient Egyptians, for the nails of the mummies are most commonly of a reddish hue.

In the Song of Solomon, the bride is described as saying, "My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi," Song of Solomon 1:14 ; and again, "Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits, camphire with spikenard," Song of Solomon 4:13 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Camphire'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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