(כִּמֹּן, kammon', lit, a condiment, from its use; Greek κύμινον; and names of similar sound in all the Oriental dialects) is an umbelliferous plant, mentioned both in the Old and New Testaments, and, like the dill and the coriander, continues to be cultivated in modern as it was in ancient times in Eastern countries (Pliny, 19:47). These are similar to and used for many of the same purposes as the anise and caraway, which supply their place, and are more common in Europe. All these plants produce fruits, commonly called seeds, which abound in essential oil of a more or less grateful flavor, and warm, stimulating nature; hence they were employed in ancient as in modern times both as condiments (Pliny, 19:8; Apicius, 1:32; 3. 18; Polyaen. 4:3, 32) and as medicines (Mishna, Shabb. 19:2). A native of Upper Egypt and Ethiopia, it is still extensively cultivated in Sicily and Malta. It would appear to have been a favorite herb among the Hebrews, and as late as the last century it retained a place of some importance in pharmacy (see Ehrmann, De cumino, Argent. 1733), Cumin is first mentioned in Isa 28:25; "When he (the ploughman) hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cumin?" showing that it was extensively cultivated, as it is in the present day, in Eastern countries, as far even as India. In the south of Europe it is also cultivated to some extent. In the above chapter of Isaiah (ver. 27) cumin is again mentioned: "For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart-wheel turned about upon the cumin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cumin with a rod." This is most applicable to the fruit of the common cumin, which, when ripe, may be separated from the stalk with the slightest stroke, and would be completely destroyed by the turning round of a wheel, which, bruising the seed, would press out the oil on which its virtues depend (see Dioscor, 3. 68). In the New Testament, cumin is mentioned in Mt 23:23, where our Savior denounces the Scribes and Pharisees, who paid their "tithe of mint, and anise, and cumin," but neglected the weightier matters of the law. In the Talmudical tract Demai (ii. 1) cumin is mentioned as one of the things regularly tithed. (See Celsii Hierob. 1:516; Penny Cyclop. s.v.) SEE AROMATICS.

Bible concordance for CUMMIN.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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