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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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An important species of grain which grows chiefly in sandy regions. In Arabia, Italy, and elsewhere a bread, excellent when fresh, is made of it, and also of the species Panicum italicum Linn. The grain is mentioned but once in the Bible, in Ezekiel 4:9 : "Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof." Since this passage was evidently intended to enumerate all the kinds of grain used for making bread, millet ("doḥ an") was included but it is practically impossible to decide which variety the prophet meant. Rosenmü ller and others preferred to translate "doḥ an" by "Indian millet," because the Arabic "dukhn" was shown by Forskå l to have this meaning, although Furrer had already pointed out that panicum likewise bears the same name it is best to translate "doḥ an" by "millet," especially if the Biblical "sorah" be rendered "sorghum" (Isaiah 28:25 , A. V., "wheat" with which Sachau compares the [i.e. , "durrah" = "broom-corn"] of an inscription at Zenjirli comp. Post, "Flora of Syria, Palestine, and Sinai," p. 854, Beirut, 1896), and to use "panicum" as a translation of "pereg," which is first found in the Mishnah. The Syrians, misled by their word "peragga," have traced this Mishnaic word to the "pannag" of Ezekiel 27:17 . The Septuagint and the Vulgate, followed by the English versions, incorrectly translate "nisman" (Isaiah 28:25 ) by "millet."

In Mishnaic times millet of two kinds, rice, and sesame constituted a separate category of cultivated plants, which were grouped between grain and pulse, although rice and millet more closely approached the former (Lö w, "Pflanzennamen," p. 102 Sheb. 2:7 Yer. Sheb. 34a, 10 Sifra, Behar, 105c R. H. 13b Ḥ al. 1:4 Mek., Bo, 8b, 12 9a, 27 Sifre, 1:110,146 2:105 Yer. Peah 1:16c, 23 Mek., Deuteronomy 1:14 Hoffmann). Dioscorides discusses the four kinds of plants in the same sequence. In spite of the fact that rice and millet are kinds of grain, they were not included among the recognized species (' Er. 81a Pes. 35a Ber. 37a "Halakot Gedolot," ed. Hildesheimer, p. 54 Maimonides, "Yad," Berakot, 5:10 "Kesef Mishne," ad loc. ).

Foreign names for millet occur in rabbinical works, e.g. : "hirse," "hirsen" ("' Aruk ha-Ḳ aẓ er" "Lebush," Oraḥ Ḥ ayyim, 208,8 Isaac Tyrnau et passim ), "arzan hindi" (Bacher, "Sefer ha-Shorashim," No. 879), "dokhn" (Maimonides), "ḍ urra" ("Birke Yosef," Oraḥ Ḥ ayyim, 205), "mil," "miglio" (D. Ḳ imḥ i, "Zunz Jubelschrift," Hebrew part, p. 97 Rashi), "panis," "panitz" (Rashi, and A. Berliner, "Festschrift," p. 248), "panizo" ("Paḥ ad Yiẓ ḥ aḳ ," s.v. ).

Bibliography : Beckmann, Beiträ ge , 2:543 Rosenmü ller, Biblische Naturgesch. 1:84 Ibn Safir, Eben Sappir , 1:40a Wö nig, Die Pflanzen im Alten Aegypten , pp. 173 et seq. , Leipsic, 1886.J. I. Lö .

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Millet'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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Milman, Henry Hart
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