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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Nettle

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is the rendering in the Auth. Ver. of two Hebrew words. (See TORN).

1. Charu', חָיוּל (so called from its pricking or burning; Sept. φρύγανα ἄγρια; Vulg. sentes, urtica, and spina), occurs in three places in Scripture. Thus in Proverbs 24:30-31, "I went by the field of the slothful, etc., and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles (charulbim, חֲרֻלַּים ) had covered the face thereof." So in Job 30:7 it is stated that he was insulted by the children of those whom he would formerly have disdained to employ, and who were so abject and destitute that "among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together;" and in Zephaniah 2:9, "Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and salt-pits, and a perpetual desolation." Considerable difficulty has been experienced in determining the plant which is alluded to in the above passages, which, as Celsius says, "has been sparingly mentioned, and not minutely described by the sacred writers." The majority of translators and commentators have thought that some thorny or prickly plant is intended by the charul, on account of the other plants which are mentioned along with it. Hence brambles, the wild plum, thistles, etc., have been severally selected; but nettles have had the greatest number of supporters. Celsius, however, prefers the Zizyphus Paliurus, or the plant called Christ's thorn, as best suited to the contexts. The cactus, or prickly pear, would be a very suitable representative, in many respects, as it is largely used in Palestine for a hedge or fence, and grows to the height of eight or ten feet. But there is this great objection to many of the plants proposed, that they are of too slow growth to suit the passage in Proverbs, which implies a rapid and general intrusion of the plant in question. All these determinations, however, amount to nothing more than conjectures, because, as Rosenmuller says, the cognate languages have not this word, and also because "the Greek translators of Alexandria in the first and last of the three places in which the Hebrew word occurs entirely deviate from our present Hebrew text; but in Job they translate charul by wild shrubs." It does not appear that a thorny plant is necessarily meant by the term. All that is implied is that neglected fields will become covered with weeds, and that these will be of a kind such as idlers may take shelter under. This passage, indeed, seems to preclude any thorny plant or nettle, as no one would voluntarily resort to such a situation; and Bar-Bahlul, as quoted by Celsius (2:168), considers pease, or rather vetches to be intended. Moreover, it is worthy of remark that there is an Arabic word not unlike charul which is applied to plants apparently suitable to all the above passages. The word khardul applies to different species of mustard, and also to plants which are employed for the same purposes as mustard. Some of the wild kinds of mustard spring up in corn-fields, and become very troublesome. One of these, indeed, sinapis arvensis, is abundant in corn- fields, where it is a pernicious weed, and also in waste ground when newly disturbed. Khardul is that indigenous in Asia. Some of the species are found in Syria and Palestine; and Russell mentions the above (sinapis arvensis), or charlock, as common in the neighborhood of Aleppo. It is also widely diffused in Europe (see Decandolle, Syst. Natural. 2:615). (See MUSTARD).

2. Kimmosh', קַמּוֹשׁ, kimosh', קַימוֹשׁ , and kimmashon, קַמָּשׁוֹן , occur, the first in Isaiah 34:13, the second in Hosea 9:6, and the third in Proverbs 24:31, where it is mentioned along with charul, which we believe to indicate charlock. The field of the slothful is there described as being grown over with thorns (charullim), "and nettles (kimshon) had covered the face thereof." In Isaiah it is said, "And thorns (choach) shall come up in the palaces, nettles (kimosh) and brambles in the fortresses thereof." Hosea 9:6, "The pleasant places for their silver, nettles (kimosh) shall possess them; thorns (choach) shall be in their tabernacles." Though different interpretations have been given of this word (Sept. ἀκάνθινα ξύλα, ἄκανθα, ὄλεθρος ; Vulg. urticae), as thorns, thistles, wild camomile, etc., the greatest number of authors have united in adopting nettles, chiefly in consequence of the authority of Jewish writers. Thus, Rosenmuller says, rabbi Tanchum, on Hosea 9:6, explains kilmosh by the common nettle, in Pococke's Commnent. on Hosea. So rabbi Ben- Melech, as quoted and translated by Celsius (Hierobot. 2:207), speaks of it as a kind of nettle, commonly called urtica. Nettles spring up rapidly in deserted as in inhabited places, in fields, ditches, and road-sides, especially where there is some moisture in the soil or climate. They are found in tropical situations as well as in temperate climes, but the springing up of nettles in deserted places is rather a European than an Oriental idea. (See THORN).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Nettle'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/n/nettle.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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