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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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This word occurs only in ; . It is no doubt from the difficulty of proving the precise meaning of the original term ketzach, that different plants have been assigned as its representative. But if we refer to the context, we learn some particulars which at least restrict it to a certain group, namely, to such as are cultivated. Thus, , 'When he (the plowman) hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches?' And again, , 'For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cartwheel turned about upon the cummin; but fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.' From which we learn that this grain was easily separated from its capsule, and therefore beaten out with a stick.

Interpreters have had great difficulty in determining the particular kind of seed intended, some translating it peas, others, as Luther and the English Version, vetches, but without any proof. Meibomius considers it to be the white poppy, and others, a black seed. This last interpretation has the most numerous, as well as the oldest, authorities in its support. Of these a few are in favor of the black poppy-seed, but the majority, of a very black-colored and aromatic seed, still cultivated and in daily employment as a condiment in the East. The plant is called Nigella by botanists, and continues in the present day, as in the most ancient times, to be used both as a condiment and as a medicine. The various species of nigella are herbaceous (several of them being indigenous in Europe, others cultivated in most parts of Asia), with their leaves deeply cut and linear, their flowers terminal, most of them having under the calyx leafy involucres which often half surround the flower. The fruit is composed of five or six capsules, which are compressed, oblong, pointed, sometimes said to be hornlike, united below, and divided into several cells, and enclosing numerous, angular, scabrous, black-colored seeds. From the nature of the capsules, it is evident, that when they are ripe, the seeds might easily be shaken out by moderate blows of a stick, as is related to have been the case with the ketzach of the text.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Fitches'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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