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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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gôl :

(1) ראשׁ , rō'sh , or רושׁ , rōsh ( Deuteronomy 32:32 only, "grapes of gall"): Some very bitter plant, the bitterness as in (2) being associated with the idea of poison. Deuteronomy 29:18 margin " rosh , a poisonous herb"; Lamentations 3:5 , Lamentations 3:19 ; Jeremiah 8:14 ; Jeremiah 9:15 ; Jeremiah 23:15 , "water of gall," margin "poison"; Hosea 10:4 , translated "hemlock"; Amos 6:12 , "Ye have turned justice into gall"; Job 20:16 , the "poison of asps": here rōsh clearly refers to a different substance from the other references, the points in common being bitterness and poisonous properties. Hemlock (Conium maculatum ), colocynth (Citrullus colocynthus ) and the poppy (Papaver somniferum ) have all been suggested as the original rōsh , the last having most support, but in most references the word may represent any bitter poisonous substance. Rōsh is associated with la‛ănāh , "wormwood" (Deuteronomy 29:18 ; Lamentations 3:19 ; Amos 6:12 ).

(2) מררה , merērāh ( Job 16:13 ), and מררה , merōrāh (Job 20:14 , Job 20:25 ), both derived from a root meaning "to be bitter," are applied to the human gall or "bile," but like (1), merōrāh is once applied to the venom of serpents (Job 20:14 ). The poison of these animals was supposed to reside in their bile.

(3) χολή , cholḗ ( Matthew 27:34 ), "They gave him wine to drink mingled with gall"; this is clearly a reference to the Septuagint version of Psalm 69:21 : "They gave me also gall ( cholē , Hebrew rōsh ) for my food; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." In Mark 15:23 , it says, "wine mingled with myrrh." It is well known that the Romans gave wine with frankincense to criminals before their execution to alleviate their sufferings; here the cholē or bitter substance used was myrrh (Pliny Ep. xx.18; Sen. Ep. 83).

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Gall'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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