For Young Archaeologists: Interesting Details About Plants in the Bible -- By: Suzanne Rogers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 14:4 (Fall 2001)
Article: For Young Archaeologists: Interesting Details About Plants in the Bible
Author: Suzanne Rogers

For Young Archaeologists:
Interesting Details About Plants in the Bible

Suzanne Rogers

What is the First Specific Mention of a Plant in the Bible?

There is an oblique reference to bdellium (bedolach) in Genesis 2:12. The word is used once more in Numbers 11:7 where manna is described as having the same color as bdellium. Its use and source is not clear although it appears to have been a resinous gum of an eastern shrub that was used for aromatic purposes.

The first certain reference to a plant in the Bible that of the fig tree (teenah) in Gensis 3:7. There are at least 60 more references in the Bible to the fig tree. This beautiful tree, with its spreading branches that provide ample shade (Jn 1:48, 50) is still ubiquitous in the Near East and its sweet fruit is a favorite of those who live there. The prevalence of the tree in the Bible suggests that the tree’s fruit was also popular in ancient times. It was to the fig tree that Jesus went to get a snack on his way to Jerusalem (Mt 21:18, 19; Mk 11:12. 13).

What Other Plants from the Pre-Flood World are Specifically Mentioned in the Bible?

Gopher wood (gopher) is the only other direct reference to a plant before the Flood. Mentioned once (Gn 6:14), God commanded Noah to build the Ark out of gopher wood. While this wood’s exact nature and modern name is unknown, there have been suggestions it may have been acacia, pine, cedar, cypress, ebony, juniper, deal or fir, wicker and even bulrushes covered in pitch. It has even been suggested that gopher wood was not a species of wood, but a special kind of wood preparation. Most scholars, however, would argue that the cypress, or a variant of that tree, was the gopher wood mentioned in Genesis. For a more detailed discussion of gopher wood, see the discussion at www.christian

Bdellium. In Hebefw, “bedolach.”

What was Special About the Trees in the Garden of Eden?

The Bible reports the trees of the garden “were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Gn 2:9). Common food bearing trees known to the ancient Near Eastern world ...

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