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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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Gall, Nikolaus
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(Two entries below)

the representative in the A.V. of two Hebrew words and one Greek.

1. Mererah' or merorah' ( מְרֵרָה or מְרֹרָה; Sept. χολή, κακά, δίαιτα; Vulg. fel, amaritudo, viscera meaz) denotes etymologically bitterness: see Job 13:26, "Thou writest bitter things against me." Hence the term is applied to the "bile" or "gall" from its imtense bitterness (Job 16:13). The metaphors in this verse are taken from the practice of huntsmen, who first surround the beast, then shoot it, and next take out the entrails. The term also stands for the gallbladder or vitals (Job 20:25). It is also used of the "poison" of serpents (Job 20:14), which the ancients erroneously believed was their gall: see Pliny, H.N. 11:37, "No one should be astonished that it is the gall which constitutes the poison of serpents" (comp. Hebrews 12:15, "root of bitterness"). (See LIVER).

2. Rosh ( ראֹשׁ or רוֹשׁ; Sept. χολή, πικρία, ἄγρωστις; Vulg. fel, amaritudo, caput), generally translated "gall" by the A.V., but in Hosea 10:4 rendered "hemlock:" in Deuteronomy 32:33, and Job 20:16, it denotes the "poison" or "venom" of serpents. From Deuteronomy 29:18, "a root that beareth rosh" (margin "a poisonful herb"), and Lamentations 3:19, "the wormwood and the rosh," compared with Hosea 10:4, "judgment springeth up as rosh," it is evident that the Heb. term denotes some bitter, and perhaps poisonous plant, though it may also be used, as in Psalm 59:21, in the general sense of "something very bitter." Celsius (Hierob. 2:46-52) thinks "hemlock" (Conium maculatum) is intended, and quotes Jerome on Hosea in support of his opinion, though it seems that this commentator had in view the couch-grass (Triticum repens) rather than "hemlock." Rosenmü ller (Bib. Bot. page 118) is inclined to think that the Lolaum temulentum best agrees with the passage in Hosea where the rosh is said to grow "in the furrows of the field." Other waiters have supposed, and with some reason (from Deuteronomy 32:32, "their grapes are grapes of rosh"), that some berry-bearing plant must be intended. Gesenius (Thes. p. 1251) understands "poppies;" Michaelis (Suppl. Lex. Heb. page 2220) is of opinion that rosh may be either the Lolium temulentum or the Solanum ("nightshade"). Oedmann (Verm. Sasmml. part 4, c. 10) argues in favor of the Colocynth. The most probable conjecture, for proof there is none, is that of Gesenius: the capsules of the Papaseracae may well give the name of resh ("head") to the plant in question, just as we speak of poppy heads. The various species of this family spring up quickly in cornfields, and the juice is extremely bitter. A steeped solution of poppy heads may be "the water of gall" of Jeremiah 8:14, unless, as Gesenius thinks, the מֵי רֹאשׁ may be the poisonous extract, opium. This word is always used figuratively to represent sin, and never designates the animal secretion called gall. (See HEMLOCK).

3. Gr. χολή, prop. the bitter secretion gall. In the story of Tobit the gall of a fish is said to have been used to cure his father's blindness (Tobit 6:8; Tobit 11:10; Tobit 11:13). Pliny refers to the use of the same substance for diseases of the eye (Hist. Nat. 28:10); also speaking of the fish callionymus, he says it has a similar curative virtue (32:4, 7). Galen and other writers praise the use of the liver of the silurus in cases of dimness of sight. (See BLINDNESS).

The passages in the Gospels which relate the circumstance of the Roman soldiers offering our Lord, just before his crucifixion, "vinegar mingled with gall," according to Matthew (Matthew 27:34), and "wine mingled with myrrh," according to Mark's account (Mark 15:23), require some consideration. The first-named evangelist uses χολή, which is the Sept. rendering of the Heb. rosh in the Psalm (Psalms 69:21) that foretels the Lord's sufferings. Mark explains the bitter ingredient in the sour vinous drink to be "myrrh" (οἴνος έσμυρνισμένος ) for we cannot regard the transactions as different. "Matthew, in his usual way," as Hengstenberg (Comment. in Psalms 69:21) remarks, "designates the drink theologically: always keeping his eye on the prophecies of the O.T., he speaks of gall and vinegar 'for the purpose of rendering the fulfillment of the Psalms more manifest.' Mark again (Mark 15:23), according to his way, looks rather at the outward quality of thee drink." Bengel takes quite a different view; he thinks both myrrh and gall were added to the sour wine (Gnom. Nov. Test. Matthew 1.c.). Hengstenberg's view is far preferable; nor is "gall" (χολή ) to be understood in any other sense than as expressing the bitter nature of the draught. As to the intent of the proffered drink, it is generally supposed that it was for the purpose of deadening pain. It was customary to give criminals just before their execution a cup of wine with frankincense in it, to which reference is made, it is believed, by the οῖνος κατανύξεως of Psalms 60:3 see also Proverbs 31:6. This the Talmud states was given in order to alleviate the pain. See Busxtorf (Lex. Talm. col. 2131), who quotes fronc the Talmed (Salmed. fol. 43, 1) to that effect. Rosenmü ller (Bib. Bot. page 163) is of opinion that the myrrh was given to our Lord, not for the purpose of alleviating his sufferings, but in order that he might be sustained until the punishment was completed. He quotes from Apuleius (Metamor. 8), who relates that a certain priest "disfigured himself with a multitude of blows, having previously strengthened himself by taking myrrh." Hoemfar the frankincense in the cup, as maentioned in the Talmud, was supposed to possess soporific properties, or in any evay to induce an alleviation of pain, it is difficult to determine. The same must be said of the οίνος ίσμνρνισμένος of Mark, for it is quite certain that neither of these two drugs in question, both of which are the produce of the same natural order of plants (Amyridaceae), is ranked among the hypnopoietics by modern physicians. It is true that Dioscorides (1:77) ascribes a soporific property to myrrh, but it does not seem to have been so regarded by any other author. Notwithstanding, therefore, the almost concurrent opinion of ancient and modern commentators, that the "wine mingled with myrrh" was offered to our Lord as an anodyne, we cannot readily come to the same conclusion. Had the soldiers intended a mitigation of suffering, they would doubtless have offered a draught drugged with some substance having narcotic properties. The drink in question was probably a mere ordinary beverage of the Romans, who were in the habit of seasoning their various wines, which, as they contained little alcohol, soon turned sour, with various spices, drugs, and perfumes, such as myrrh, cassia, myrtle, pepper, etc. (Smith, Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Vinum). (See MYRRH).

ST., monastery of, one of the most celebrated monasteries of Europe, at St. Gall, in Switzerland. It was founded in the 7th century. Its wealth and reputation became very great under Othmar, its first abbot (720-760), who founded a hospital for lepers in connection with the monastery. In the 8th century it became distinguished for learning, especially under abbot Gosbert (815-837). "The abbey of St. Gall gradually became one of the masterpieces of mediaeval architecture; and the genius and skill which were lavished on its construction, and on the decoration of its halls and cloisters, had a large share in developing the Christian art of the period. The monks of St. Gall, too, may be reckoned among the best friends and preservers of ancient literature. They were indefatigable in the collection and transcription of MSS. Biblical, patristic, sacred and profane history, classical, liturgical, and legendary. Several of the classics, especially Quintilian, Silius Italicus, and Amnemianus Marcellinus, have been preserved solely through the MSS. of St. Gall. For a time the abbey was subject to the bishop of Constance, and an animiated dispute was for a long time maintained between that prelate and the monks as to the right of electing the abbot. It ended, however, in the recognition of the right of free election; and ultimately, from the growth of the monastic possessions, and the important position which the abbot held, the monastic domain, which comprised a great part of northern Switzerland, became a distinct jurisdiction, within which the abbot, like many of his brethren in the great Benedictine monasteries, exercised all the rights of a suzerain.

For several centuries the abbey of St. Gall held one of the highest places in the order. Its schools enjoyed wide reputation. Its members held a distinguished place among the scholars of medieval Germany; and many of them, as, for example, Notker, are known to have cultivated not only the ordinary learning of the schools, but also physic, mathematics, and astronomy. The school of St. Gall, too, was one of the most eminent for the cultivation of music, and its MSS., preserved in its library, have been extensively made use of by the restorers of ancient ecclesiastical music. A town of considerable importance grew up around the monastery, and was called by the same name; and as the wealth and influence which attached to the dignity of the abbot began to make it an object of ambition to rich and powerful families, we find the succession of abbots, in the 13th and 14th centuries, sadly degenerated from their pious and learned predecessors in the office. A stringent reform was enforced about the time of the Council of Constance; but the burghers of St. Gall had grown dissatisfied under this rule, and on the outbreak of the Reformation in 1525 they threw off their subjection, and embraced the new doctrines. At the close, however, of the religious war in 1532, the Catholic religion was re-established, and the abbot reinstated, though with diminished authority, in his ancient dignity. At the French Revolution, the abbey of St. Gall was secularized (1798), and its revenues were soon afterwards sequestrated (1805). By a later ecclesiastical arrangement, the abbacy of St. Gall was raised to the dignity of a bishopric, which in 1823 was united to that of Chur. They were afterwards, however, separated, and in 1847 St. Gall was erected into a bishopric, with a distinct jurisdiction." Chambers, Encyclopaedia, s.v.; Herzog, Real-Encyklopä die, 4:643.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Gall'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​g/gall.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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