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Bible Encyclopedias
Oak and Terebinth

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

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The Hebrew terms calling for consideration here are: "elah" (Genesis 35:4; Judges 6:11,19, and elsewhere); "el" (only in the plural form "elim"; Isaiah 1:29, 57:5, A. V. "idols," R. V. "oaks"; 61:3, A. V. "trees"); "elon" (Genesis 12:6, A. V. "plain"; R. V. "oak"; 13:18); "allah" (Joshua 24:26, E. V. "oak"); and "allon" (Genesis 35:8; Isaiah 2:13, 44:14, and often E. V. "oak"). All these terms may have originally denoted large, strong trees in general (comp. the Latin robur), comprising both the oak and the terebinth, which are similar in outward appearance. But "elah" (which in Isaiah 6:13 and Hosea 4:13 is distinguished from "allon") and its cognates "elon" and "elim" are assumed to mean the terebinth, while "allon" (which is repeatedly connected with Bashan [Isaiah 2:13; Ezekiel 27:6; Zechariah 11:2], a district famous for its oaks) and "allah" are assumed to denote the oak.

Both the oak and the terebinth offered favorite resorts for religious practises (Isaiah 1:29, 57:5; Ezekiel 6:13; Hosea 4:13), and were associated with theophanies (Judges 6:11; comp. Genesis 12:6; Judges 9:37). By reason of their striking appearance and their longevity they served also as topographical landmarks (Genesis 35:8; Judges 4:11, 6:11, 9:6; 1 Samuel 10:3, 17:2). The custom of burial beneath these trees is mentioned (Genesis 358; 1 Chronicles 10:12). Oak timber was used for the manufacture of idols (Isaiah 44:14) and for ship-building (Ezekiel 27:6). The oak and the terebinth are employed as emblems of strength and durability (Amos 2:9; Isaiah 61:3).

According to Tristram, the following three species of oak are at present common in Palestine: (1) the prickly evergreen oak (Quercus pseudo-coccifera), abundant in Gilead; the most famous exemplar of this species is the so-called "Abraham's oak" near. Hebron, measuring 23 feet in girth with a diameter of foliage of about 90 feet (see See ABRAHAM'S OAK); (2) the Valona oak (Q. Ægilops), common in the north and supposed to represent the "oaks of Bashan"; (3) the Oriental gall-oak (Q. infectoria), on Carmel.

The terebinth (Pistacia Terebinthus) is abundant in the south and southeast. FOREST.

Bibliography:
  • Kotschy, Die Eichen Europas und des Orients, Olmütz, 1862;
  • Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 367, London, 1867;
  • Wagler, Die Eiche in Alter und Neuer Zeit: Mythologisch-Kulturgeschichtliche Studie, Berlin, 1891.
E. G. H.
I. M. C.
Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Oak and Terebinth'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​o/oak-and-terebinth.html. 1901.
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