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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Ba´ca and Becaim occur, the first in Psalms 84:6, 'Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools;' the second in 2 Samuel 5:23-24, and in 1 Chronicles 14:14-15, 'And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that thou shalt bestir thyself.' Neither the mulberry nor the pear-tree, considered by some to be the baca of the Scriptures, satisfies translators and commentators, because they do not possess any characters particularly suitable to the above passages.

It is evident that the tree alluded to, whatever it is, must be common in Palestine, must grow in the neighborhood of water, have its leaves easily moved, and have a name in some of the cognate languages similar to the Hebrew Baca. The only one with which we are acquainted answering to these conditions is that called bak by the Arabs, or rather shajrat al-bak—that is, the fly or gnat tree.

As it appears to us sufficiently clear that the bak-tree is a kind of poplar, and as the Arabic 'bak' is very similar to the Hebrew 'Baca,' so it is probable that one of the kinds of poplar may be intended in the above passages of Scripture. And it must be noted that the poplar is as appropriate as any tree can be for the elucidation of the passages in which baca occurs. For the poplar is well known to delight in moist situations, and Bishop Horne, in his Comm. on Psalms 84, has inferred that in the valley of Baca the Israelites, on their way to Jerusalem, were refreshed by plenty of water. It is not less appropriate in the passages in II Samuel and I Chronicles, as no tree is more remarkable than the poplar for the ease with which its leaves are rustled by the slightest movement of the air; an effect which might be caused in a still night even by the movement of a body of men on the ground, when attacked in flank or when unprepared. That poplars are common in Palestine may be proved from Kitto's Palestine, i. 114 'Of poplars we only know, with certainty, that the black poplar, the aspen, and the Lombardy poplar grow in Palestine. The aspen, whose long leaf-stalks cause the leaves to tremble with every breath of wind, unites with the willow and the oak to overshadow the watercourses of the Lower Lebanon, and, with the oleander and the acacia, to adorn the ravines of southern Palestine: we do not know that the Lombardy poplar has been noticed but by Lord Lindsay, who describes it as growing with the walnut-tree and weeping-willow under the deep torrents of the Upper Lebanon.'





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Baca'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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