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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(ארֶן, o'ren, probably tremulous, from the motion of the leaves) occurs only once in Scripture as the name of a tree, in connection with other trees, of whose timber idols were made, Isaiah 44:14 : "He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest; he planteth an ash (oren), and the rain doth nourish it." Others consider pine-tree to be the correct translation; but for neither does there appear to be any decisive proof, nor for the rubus or bramble adopted for oren in the fable of the Cedar and Rubus, translated from the Hebrew of R. Berechia Hannakdan by Celsius (Hierobot. i, 186). Oren is translated pine-tree both in the Sept. (πίτυς ) and the Vulg., and this has been acquiesced in by several of the most learned critics, and among them by Calvin and Bochart. Celsius (ut sup. p. 191) states, moreover, that some of the rabbins also consider oren to be the same as the Arabic sunober (which is no doubt a pine), and that they often join together arzim, orn'm, and beroshim, as trees of the same nature (אִרְזִים אָרְנִים וּבְרֹוֹשִׂים עֲצֵי, "cedars" and "ash-trees" and "cypresses," Talmud Ba.byl. Pora, fol. xcvi, 1).

Luther and the Portuguese version read cedar. Rosenmuller (Alierth. IV, i, 243 sq.; comp. Gesenius, Thes. Heb. p. 152) contends that it is not the common wild pine (Pinus sylvestri,) which is intended, but what the ancients called the domestic pine, which was raised in gardens en account of its elegant shape and the pleasant fruit it yields, the Pignole nuts of the Italians (Pinus pinea of Linnaeus), and quotes Virgil (Ecl. 7:65; Georg. 4:112). The English version, in the translation of oren, follows those interpreters who have adopted ornus, apparently only because the elementary letters of the Hebrew are found also in the Latin word. (See PINE). Celsius objects to this as an insufficient reason for supposing that the ash was intended; and there does not appear to be any other proof. Ornus Europea, or manna ash (Fraxinus ornus, Linnaeus, Pranzensyst. ii, 516), does, however, grow in Syria, but, being a cultivated plant, it may have been introduced. (See MANNA). The common ash was anciently associated with the oak (Stat. Theb. 6:102) as a hard (Ovid, Met. 12:337; Lucan. 6:390; Colum. 11:2) and durable (Horace, Od. i, 9, 2) tree (Pliny, 16:30; Virg. Geo. ii, 65 sq.), of hardy growth (Virar. Geo. ii, 111; AEn. ii, 626). Celsius (ut sup. p. 192) quotes from the Arab author 'Abu-l-Fadli the description of a tree called aran, which appears well suited to the passage, though it has not yet been ascertained what tree is intended.

The aran is said to be a tree of Arabia Petraea, of a thorny nature, inhabiting the valleys, but found also in the mountains, where it is, however, less thorny. The wood is said to be much valued for cleaning the teeth. The fruit is in bunches like small grapes. The berry is noxious while green, and bitter like galls; as it ripens it becomes red, then black and somewhat sweetish, and when eaten is grateful to the stomach, and seems to act as a stimulant medicine. Sprengel (Hist. reilherb. i, 14) supposes this to be the caper plant (Capparis Spinosa of Linnaeus). Faber thought it to be the Rhlamnus siculus pentaphyllus of Shaw. Link (in Schrader's Journ. of. Botan. 4:252) identifies it with Flacourtia sepiaria of Roxburgh, a tree, however, which has not been found in Syria. It appears to agree in some respects with the Salvadora Persica, but not in all points, and therefore it requires further investigation by some traveller in Syria conversant both with plants and their Oriental names and uses. (See BOTANY).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ash'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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