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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Gall

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Gall occurs in its primary and proper meaning, as denoting the substance secreted in the gall-bladder of animals, commonly called bile in the following passages; , 'He poureth out my gall.' 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 meaning, as given by Bp. Heath, is, 'he entirely destroyeth me.' (describing the remorse of a wicked man), 'the gall of adders' (which according to the ancients is the seat of their poison). , where, to describe the certainty of a wicked man's destruction, it is said, 'the glittering sword cometh out of his gall.' In the story of Tobit the gall of a fish is said to have been used to cure his father's blindness (; ; ). Pliny refers to the use of the same substance for diseases of the eye. Galen and other writers praise the use of the liver of the silurus in cases of dimness of sight.

Gall is also employed in the Authorized Version as the meaning of the word Rosh, which is generally considered to signify some plant. This we may infer from its being frequently mentioned along with 'wormwood,' as in , 'lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall (rosh) and wormwood; so also in ; ; and in , 'Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. That it was a berry-bearing plant, has been inferred from , 'For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and their grapes are grapes of gall (rosh), their clusters are bitter.' In , 'water of gall' (rosh), is mentioned; which may be either the expressed juice of the fruit or of the plant, or a bitter infusion made from it. That it was a plant is very evident from , where it is said 'their judgment springeth up as hemlock (rosh) in the furrows of the field.'

Though rosh is generally acknowledged to indicate some plant, yet a variety of opinions have been entertained respecting its identification: some, as the Auth. Vers. in , and , consider cicuta or hemlock to be the plant intended, but there is little or no proof adduced that this is the case.

Some have concluded that it must be darnel, which is remarkable among grasses for its poisonous and intoxicating properties. It is, however, rather sweetish in taste, and its seeds being intermixed with corn, are sometimes made into bread. It is well known to grow in cornfields, and would therefore suit the passage of Hosea; but it has not a berry-like fruit, nor would it yield any juice: the infusion in water, however, might be so understood, though it would not be very bitter or disagreeable in taste. Hiller adduces the centaury as a bitter plant, which corresponds with much of what is required. Two kinds of centaury, the larger and smaller, and both conspicuous for their bitterness, were known to the ancients. The latter is one of the family of gentians, and still continues to be employed as a medicine on account of its bitter and tonic properties. From the extreme bitterness of taste, from growing in fields, and being a native of warm countries, some plant like centaury, and of the tribe of gentians, might answer all the passages in which rosh is mentioned, with the exception of that () where it is supposed to have a berried fruit. Dr. Harris, quoting Blaney on , says, 'In , which is justly considered as a prophecy of our Savior's sufferings, it is said, “they gave me gall to eat.” And accordingly it is recorded in the history, , “They gave him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall.” But in the parallel passage () it is said to “wine mingled with myrrh,” a very bitter ingredient. From whence I am induced to think that perhaps rosh may be used as a general name for whatever is exceedingly bitter; and consequently, when the sense requires, it may be put specially for any bitter herb or plant.'

 

 

 

 


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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Gall'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/kbe/g/gall.html.

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