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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Bay Tree

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Bay-tree or Laurel. This word occurs only once in Scripture, namely in Psalms 37:35 : 'I have seen the wicked in great power, spreading himself like a green bay-tree.' Commentators and translators have differed respecting the meaning of this word, some supposing it to indicate a specific tree, as the laurel; and others, supported by the Septuagint and Vulgate, the cedar of Lebanon. It is by some considered to mean an evergreen tree, and by others, a green tree that grows in its native soil, or that has not suffered by transplanting, as such a tree spreads itself luxuriantly. It appears to us that the Hebrew word would indicate some tree resembling the bay-tree, rather than the bay-tree itself; but until that can be discovered, the latter is, upon the whole, well suited to stand as its representative.

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Fig. 85—Bay-tree, Laurus nobilis

The laurel, or bay-tree, laurus nobilis of botanists, is well known to the Asiatics by its Arabic name of ghar, under which it is mentioned by Serapion and Avicenna, who quote chiefly Dioscorides and Galen, thus indicating that they had not much original information of their own respecting a tree which is probably not indigenous in the countries in which they wrote. The leaves and berries of the laurel, as well as the bark and the root, were employed in medicine: the berries continue, even in the present day, to be exported to India, where we found them in the bazaars, under the name of hubal-ghar, being still esteemed as a stimulant medicinal, though not possessed of any properties superior to those of the laurels of more southern latitudes. The bay-tree is well known to be common in the south of Europe, as in Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Levant. It is usually from 20 to 30 feet in height, often having a bushy appearance, from throwing up so many suckers; but in England it has attained a height of 60 feet, which is not unusual in warmer climates. It is unnecessary to allude further to the celebrity which it attained among the ancients—a celebrity which has not yet passed away, the laurel-wreath being still the symbolical crown as well of warriors as of poets. Its ever green grateful appearance, its thick shade, and the agreeable spicy odor of its leaves, point it out as that which was most likely in the eye of the Psalmist.

 

 

 

 


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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Bay Tree'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/kbe/b/bay-tree.html.

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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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