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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Wormwood

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Fig. 349—Wormwood—Artemisia Judaica

This proverbially bitter plant is used in the Hebrew, as in most other languages, metaphorically, to denote the moral bitterness of distress and trouble (; ; ; ; ; ; ; ). Thence also the name given to the fatal star in . Artemisia is the botanical name of the genus of plants in which the different species of wormwoods are found. The plants of this genus are easily recognized by the multitude of fine divisions into which the leaves are usually separated, and the numerous clusters of small, round, drooping, greenish-yellow or brownish flower-heads with which the branches are laden. It must be understood that our common wormwood does not appear to exist in Palestine, and cannot therefore be that specially denoted by the Scriptural term. Indeed it is more than probable that the word is intended to apply to all the plants of this class that grew in Palestine, rather than to anyone of them in particular. The examples of this genus that have been found in that country are:—

Artemisia Judaica, which, if a particular species be intended, is probably the Absinthium of Scripture. Rauwolff found it about Bethlehem, and Shaw in Arabia and the deserts of Numidia plentifully. This plant is erect and shrubby, with stem about eighteen inches high. Its taste is very bitter; and both the leaves and seeds are much used in Eastern medicine, and are reputed to be tonic, stomachic, and anthelmintic.

Artemisia Romana, which was found by Hasselquist on Mount Tabor. This species is herbaceous, erect, with stem one or two feet high (higher when cultivated in gardens), and nearly upright branches. The plant has a pleasantly aromatic scent; and the bitterness of its taste is so tempered by the aromatic flavor as scarcely to be disagreeable.

Artemisia abrotanum, found in the south of Europe, as well as in Syria and Palestine, and eastward even to China. This is a hoary plant, becoming a shrub in warm countries; and its branches bear loose panicles of nodding yellow flower-heads. It is bitter and aromatic, with a very strong scent. It is not much used in medicine; but the branches are employed in imparting a yellow dye to wool.

 

 

 

 

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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Wormwood'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/w/wormwood.html.

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