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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Mallows (). The proper meaning of the word (malluach), which is thus rendered in the Authorized Version, has given rise to considerable discussion. Mallows are still used as food in India, as they formerly were in Europe, and probably in Syria. 'We saw,' says Biddulph, 'many poor people collecting mallows and three-leaved grass, and asked them what they did with it; and they answered, that it was all their food, and that they boiled it, and did eat it.' Lady Calcott is of opinion that the plant mentioned by the patriarch is Jews' mallow, which still continues to be eaten in Egypt and Arabia, as well as in Palestine.

The learned Bochart, however, contends that the word malluach denotes a saltish plant, which is supposed to be the Atriplex Halimus of botanists, or tall shrubby Orache. There is no doubt that species of Orache were used as articles of diet in ancient times, and probably still are so in the countries where they are indigenous; but there are many other plants, similar in nature, that is, soft and succulent, and usually very saline, which, like the species of Atriplex, belong to the same natural family of Chenopodeae, and which from their saline nature have received their respective names. Some of these are shrubby, but most of them are herbaceous, and extremely common in all the dry, desert, and saline soils which extend from the south of Europe to the north of India. Most of them are saline and bitter, but some are milder in taste and mucilaginous, and are therefore employed as articles of diet, as spinach is in Europe. Salsola indica, for instance, which is common on the coasts of the Peninsula of India, Dr. Roxburgh states, saved the lives of many thousands of the poor natives of India during the famine of 1791-2-3; for while the plant lasted, most of the poorer classes who lived near the sea had little else to eat; and indeed its green leaves ordinarily form an essential article of the food of those natives who inhabit the maritime districts.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Mallows'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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