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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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The traditional rendering of "rotem" in 1 Kings 19:4,5 Psalm 120:4 and Job 30:4 , adopted by Aquila and the Vulgate, and followed by the English versions while the Septuagint seem to have been at a loss regarding the exact meaning of the Hebrew term, and either transcribe it by ῥ α θ μ έ ν , or render it by the general term φ υ τ ὸ ν ἐ ρ η μ ι κ ό ν , or ξ ῦ λ ο ν . As "rotem" is unquestionably identical with the Arabic "ratam," which means "broom" (comp. Lö w, "Aramä ische Pfianzennamen," p. 366), it must likewise be intended for some species of that shrub, probably the Genista rœ tam (Forskal, "Flor. Eg.-Arab." lvi.), which is indigenous to the Sinaitic peninsula and to Arabia Petra, and is the most conspicuous shrub in the desert south of Palestine. Rising to a height of ten to twelve feet, and growing in clustered bushes, the broom affords a grateful shade in the desert, which fact is referred to in IKings (comp. Vergil, "Georgics," 2:434) while the allusion in Psalm 120:4 agrees with the fact that the coals of the broom burn a long time and emit an intense heat.

More difficult is the passage in Job, where the roots of the rotem are spoken of as "meat" for, while the leaves and fruit of the broom are a favorite food of goats, the roots are inedible. It may be that the allusion is merely intended to depict extreme distress, unless for ("their meat") is to be read ("to warm themselves" so R. V. margin comp. Isaiah 47:14 . "Rithmah," a place-name derived from "rotem," is mentioned in Numbers 33:18 .

The juniper proper, Juniperus Sabina , or savin, is assumed to be intended by "' ar' ar" (Jeremiah 17:6 , 48:6 [A. V. "heath" R. V. margin, "tamarisk"]), as that is the meaning of the identical term in Arabic. This tree grows to a height of ten to fifteen feet, and abounds in the rocks of Arabia Petra.

Bibliography : Balfour, Plants of the Bible , p. 50 Robinson, Researches , 1838, 1:203,299 2:506 Tristram, Nat. Hist. pp. 358-359, London, 1867. E. G. H. I. M. C.

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

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