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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Mint is mentioned in : 'Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise (properly dill) and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law;' and, again, in ; 'But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue, and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.' All the plants mentioned in the above passages belong to the smaller ones cultivated in gardens in Europe, and which usually come under the denomination of sweet herbs. Lady Calcott inquires whether mint was one of the bitter herbs which the Israelites ate with the Paschal Lamb; and infers the probability of its being so from our own practice of eating lamb with mint sauce. Dr. Harris argues that mint, anise, and cummin were not tithed, and that the Pharisees only paid tithes of these plants from an overstrained interpretation of the law. But, in the article 'Dill,' it 'may be seen that dill was tithed, and it is one of the herbs mentioned along with mint. The meaning, therefore, seems to be, that the Pharisees, while, in conformity with the law, they paid these minute tithes, neglected the most important moral duties—truth, justice, and mercy; for it is added, 'these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.'

The species of mint most common in Syria is Mentha sylvestris, found by Russell at Aleppo, and mentioned by him as one of the herbs cultivated in the gardens there. It also occurs in Greece, Taurus, Caucasus, the Altai Range, and as far as Cashmere, whence we have obtained specimens. Mint is highly esteemed in Eastern countries, and apparently was so also by the Jews. It was much esteemed by the ancients, as Pliny testifies. Dioscorides also mentions it as useful to the stomach, and peculiarly grateful as a condiment. Mint was employed by the ancients in the preparation of many dishes.

It is difficult to determine the exact species or variety of mint employed by the ancients. There are numerous species very nearly allied to one another. They usually grow in moist situations, and are herbaceous, perennial, of powerful odor, especially when bruised, and have small reddish-colored flowers, arranged in spikes or whorls. The taste of these plants is bitter, warm, and pungent, but leaving a sensation of coolness on the tongue: in their properties they are so similar to each other, that either in medicine, or as a condiment, one species may safely be substituted for another.





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

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Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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