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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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The Garden.

That department of the science of agriculture which relates to the cultivation of gardens. The garden is called "gan" or "gannah" in the later Biblical books, and in the Mishnah "ginnah." Originally the word "gan" was probably applied to all kinds of gardens; but in later Biblical times an orchard came to be denoted by the Persian word "pardes," which, as connoting the religious idea of paradise, was introduced into the vocabularies of all civilized nations ("Z. D. M. G." 32:761; S. Fränkel, "Die Aramäischen Fremdwörter im Arabischen," p. 149), and gained a wider recognition than the Biblical expression "Eden." The words "gannah" and "pardes" are both used in Ecclesiastes (see "pare" in Rashi to Ps. 1. 9; Ibn Ezra to Ecclesiastes 2:5; Song of Solomon 4:13; Bacher, Ibn Ezra, p. 170). In ancient Israel the garden was probably an orchard, vineyard, or kitchen-garden, although the royal gardens had doubtless more the nature of a park. The references to the nut-orchard in Song of Solomon 6:11—a passage often interpreted symbolically—and to the "orchard of pomegranates" ("pardes rimmonim") in the same book (ib. 4:13) indicate the late origin of the Song of Solomon and the strong foreign influence under which it was composed. The description of the garden in Song of Solomon 4:13-14 is not that of an existing Palestinian garden, but of a purely imaginary one. The Biblical words "kerem," doubtless at first applied only to a vineyard, and "karmel," denoting cultivated land in contrast to the fallow field, were also used later to designate a garden.

The garden, which was divided into beds ("'arugot"), was naturally laid out near water, or was provided with cisterns and channels for irrigation (compare the stories of Bath sheba and Susanna). The place-name "'En Gannim" (lit. "garden spring") occurs twice in Palestine (Baedeker-Socin, "Palästina," 5th ed., p. 255). There are direct Biblical references to gardens near Jerusalem; and another is found in the name "Gate of Gennath" (e., "garden gate"), which is mentioned by Josephus (Baedeker-Socin, c. p. 28). The gardener has often been confounded with the farmer (in the Mishnah "aris," which in the Midrash, however, probably does mean also "gardener"). An overseer of the royal forests, "shomer ha-pardes," is mentioned in Nehemiah 2:8; otherwise "noẓer" and "noṭer," the equivalents of the Aramaic "naṭora" and the Arabic "naṭura," are used. In post-Biblical times there are many references to gardens and gardeners; and the number of terms used to denote them increases correspondingly. Side by side with the Biblical "gannot u-pardesim" (gardens and parks)—a favorite phrase in Mishnaic times—the Persian words "baga" and "bustana," found also in Syriac and other related languages, appear in the Talmud, indicating the prevalence of Persian horticulture (comp. "Sha'are Ẓedeḳ," p. 87d). In tannaiticworks, side by side with "gan," is used the form "ginnah"; the older form "gannah," found in the Mishnah, being due apparently to incorrect tradition. The plural "gannim" seems to have become obsolete by that time.


The Halakah gave occasion for many references to gardens in the Mishnah, some of which references may be noted here. It is declared that the garden should always be fenced in, though this custom is not uniformly observed (B. B. 1:4a; Yer. B. B. 1:12d). The garden generally lay near the house (B. M. 10:5; Yer. B. B. 3:14b). As a person had to pass through the courtyard into the garden, the two are often contrasted (Ma'as. 3:10; Ter. 8:3; Yer. B. B. 1:12d; Yer. Giṭ. 8:49b); domestic fowls could easily go from the yard into the kitchen-garden and do damage there (Tosef., B. Ḳ. 2:347; Ḥul. 12:1; Tosef., Ḥul. 10:511; Tosef., Beẓah, 1:201). Swarming bees frequently settled in neighboring gardens (Tosef., B. Ḳ. 10:369).

Legal ordinances refer to: the right of the poor to enter gardens (Sheb. 9:7); the right of a merchant to pass through a garden belonging to one person into that of another whose fruit he desires to buy (B. B. 6:6; comp. Mek., Beshallaḥ, 30b); the damages to be paid for cattle entering a garden (B. Ḳ. 6:2); and the right of planting gardens and parks upon the site of a city destroyed for idolatry (Sanh. 10:6; Tosef., Sanh. 14:437).

The Biblical command not to cut down fruit-trees is treated in detail by Talmudic and rabbinical authorities, including the latest casuists; for example, in connection with the questions whether a nut-tree standing among vines may be cut down ("Ẓemaḥ Ẓedeḳ," No. 41), and whether worthless grape-vines may be uprooted to make room for something else (Steinach, "Yoreh De'ah," No. 63; on the cutting down of fruit-trees in general see "Simlat Binyamin," p. 169c). The existence of parks around synagogues is not sanctioned, in view of their resemblance to "asherim" ("Ben Chananja," 6:688, 8:589), although, according to Philo, many synagogues in Alexandria were surrounded by trees, as is the Elijah synagogue in that city to-day. As irrigation was necessary in post-Biblical times, there are many halakic and midrashic references to it (Gen. R. 15:3; Lev. R. 15:3).

Manure was applied both in Biblical and in Talmudic times, dung, the blood of animals, fine sand, ashes, leaves, straw, chaff, the scum of oil, and the residue of the fruits of the field being used. Blood was used exclusively for gardens; ashes and oilscum, only for orchards; sand, for orchards and vegetable gardens; dung, chiefly for gardens. Gardens were often laid out in terraces on mountainsides (B. M. 10:4-6). The owner is called "ba'al haginnah," the term being also used haggadically of God (Yer. B. M. 3:50d). A garden may be so small that the vintner may just enter within the enclosure with his basket ('Eduy. 2:4), though the minimum size is fixed by some at 130 square meters; by R. Akiba at 32.7 square meters (B. B. 1:6, 7:2). Plants were sometimes raised in pots.

Traces of Greek influence upon Palestinian horticulture are few; indeed, this science was brought to Europe from the Aramean countries. The grape-pole (δίκρανον) was of Greek origin, as were the following plants: the laurel (δάπνη), iris (ἴρις), ivy (κισσός), mint (μίνθα), narcissus (νάρκισσος), rue (πήγανον), box, and the oleander (ῥοδοδάφνη).

A famous garden of Mishnaic time was the rose-garden at Jerusalem, said to date from the time of the Prophets (Ma'as. 2:5), but this, it is declared, was the only garden or park permitted in that city (Tosef., Neg. 6:625; B. Ḳ. 82b). The parks of Sebaste must be mentioned, as well as those of Jericho, and the gardens of Ashkelon ('Ar. 3:2; Tosef., 'Ar. 2:544; Sifra, Beḥuḳḳotai, ed. Weiss, p. 114a). Of the Middle Ages the garden of the community of Worms should be mentioned ("Liḳ-ḳuṭe Maharil," p. 109b; "Monatsschrift," 45:62).

The gardener is called "gannan" (Talmudic, "ginna'a" or "gannana"). The guardians are called "shomere gannot u-fardesim." The planter is called "shattala" (B. M. 93a; Yer. B. M. 8:11c). Babli mentions a gardener in the service of Rabina. In the Haggadah, aside from God Himself, Noah is designated as the first gardener; he planted also cedar-trees (Gen. R. ). He said to his children after the Flood, "You will go and build cities for yourselves, and will plant in them all the plants that are on the earth, and all the trees that bear fruit" (Book of Jubilees, 7:35). Abraham is also considered as a planter, as is Solomon, the appurtenances of the latter's kingship being, among other things, vineyards, gardens, and parks (Kallah, ed. Coronel, p. 16a). Because the Egyptians forced the children of Israel to lay out gardens and parks, in order to prevent them from multiplying (Seder Eliyahu R. 7:42, ed. Friedmann), the plague of hail was sent upon their land, in order to fulfil the words of Psalms 78:47.

Haggadic References.

The Haggadah often refers to gardens and parks, especially the gardens of the emperor. The passages in which such references occur have been collected by Ziegler, "Die Königsgleichnisse des Midrasch," pp. 286 et seq. Similes and metaphors in which reference is made to imperial gardens are found as early as the tannaitic period; e.g., in Tosef., Ḥag. 2:234, and in the Mekilta; also in Exodus Rabbah, Tanḥuma, and Pesiḳta—hence within the domain of the Roman empire—while the Babylonian sources contain hardly any such figures. These figures show a deeper and more intimate observation of nature than is found in later rabbinic times. The Haggadah in general confines itself to the Biblical figures that have suggested the comparison. Canticles especially has stimulated the imagination of the haggadists.

In Biblical times the garden was perhaps also used as a burial-ground (2 Kings 21:18,26; comp. John 19:41), though later on the Jewish cemeteries did not present the appearance of gardens. R. Hananeel cites an old Babylonian tradition, according to which Abba Arika planted trees upon graves, but only a small part of them took root and blossomed, and such as did were all on the graves of those that had not died before their time ("'Aruk," 6:157). The following proverbs referring to gardens may be mentioned: "As the garden, so the gardener";"Whoever rents one garden may eat birds; whoever rents more than one at the same time will be eaten by the birds" (Dukes, "Rabbinische Blumenlese," Nos. 202, 456; Weissberg, "'Mishle Ḳadmonim," p. 6).


The Jews of the Middle Ages did not possess a highly developed sense of natural beauty, nor were they much given to horticulture. Poets writing in Hebrew were restricted, for the names of flowers, to the Biblical vocabulary. Foreign influence is shown in the predilection for horticultural names as book-titles, and in the division of books into "flower-beds"; for example, "Gan Elohim" ("R. E. J." 41:304); "Gan 'Eden," the numerical value of which corresponds to the number of chapters in Maimonides' "Moreh" (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 429); "Pardes," in which the methods of Scriptural exegesis were summed up (Bacher, in Stade's "Zeitschrift," 1893, p. 294, Jew. Encyc. 3:171); "Ginnat Weradim" (rose-garden), occurring twice as a book-title; "Ginnat Egoz" (nut-garden), "Ginnat ha-Bitan" (palace garden), occurring once each; "Kaftor wa-Feraḥ" (if the original meaning of the words, which in the Bible are descriptive of the golden candlestick, may be taken to assign the title to this class), used as a book-title three times; and "Kerem," occurring sixteen times in different combinations, six of these being "Kerem Shelomoh." "Maskit ha-Orot ke-Pardes ha-Niẓẓanim" is the title of Ghazali's work in Isaac b. Joseph Alfasi's translation (Steinschneider, c. p.346). "Neṭa'" (plantation) is found twelve times in titles, three of these being "Niṭ'e Na'amanim," and five "Neṭa' Sha'ashu'im." "Sefer ha-Peraḥ" = "Flores" of Abu Ma'asher; "Shoshan ha-Refu'ah" = Lilium medicinœ; "Peraḥ ha-Refu'ah"=Flosmedicinœ (Steinschneider, c. pp. 531, 785, 800); there is also a Karaite "Sefer ha-Niẓẓanim" (Steinschneider, c. p. 450). Joseph al-Ḳirḳisani's commentary on the passages of the Pentateuch referring to the Law is "Al-Riyaḍ wal-Ḥada'iḳ" (beds and gardens; see Steinschneider, "Arabische Literatur der Juden," p.79). Better known is Rashi's "Sefer ha-Pardes." Under "'Arugat ha-Bosem" (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 411, 753) Benjacob records ten titles of books; under "Pardes," eighteen; and in combination with "Peraḥ," eighteen. Aside from "Sefer ha-Gan," occurring twice, sixteen titles are combinations of "gan," while "shoshannah" (lily) enters into twenty-three titles; comp. also the titles "'Arugat Bosem ha-Mezimmah," "Pardes Rimmone ha-Ḥokmah," "Pardes ha-Ḥokmah," "Gan Te'udot" ("Z. D. M. G." 27:555,557,559; Steinschneider, c. pp. 389, 392, 394). See BOTANY; Flowers in the Home; PLANTS.

E. G. H.
I. Lö.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Garden'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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