(2Ch 31:5, margin, for דּבִשׁ, dbash', "honey," Sept. μέλι, Vulg. mel), the fruit of one species of the palm (תָּמָר [Talm. דּקֵל, comp. δάκτυλος, date], φοῖνιξ, Phoenix dactilifera of Linn.). This tree formerly grew abundantly in Palestine (Joe 1:12; Ne 8:15; Jg 4:5; Mishna, Biccurim, 1:10; comp. Pliny, 13:6; Tacitus, Hist. v. 6, 2; Theoph. Plaut. 2:8; Pausan. 9:19, 5), especially in certain warm localities (Schubert, Reisen, p. 105), namely, around Jericho (which hence was called the Palm City, Josephus, Ant. 15:4, 2; Pliny, v. 15; 13:9; Strabo, 16:763; Philostr. Apollon. 6:39), En-gedi (Solin. 38:12), and the Dead Sea (Diod. Sic. 2:48;
19:98); also at the Sea of Galilee (Josephus, War, 3:10, 8); as a stately tree (especially fine at Jericho, Strabo 17:800; Galen, Facult. alim. 2:26; Buxtorf, Lex. Chald. col. 109; Pliny, 13:9), so that on Jewish and Roman coins (also Phoenician, Spanheim. Praestant. et us. num. p. 272) it was even empoyed as the symbol of the country (Froelich, Ann. Syr. tab. 18; see the praises of Idumaean palms in Virgil, Georg. 3, 12; Sil. Ital. 3, 600; 7:456; Lucan, 3, 216; Martial, 10:50, 1). At present it is seldom to be met with there (Shaw, Travels, p. 297; Schubert, 3, 114; at Jericho there exists but a solitary one, Robinson, Researches, 2:537; at Engedi none whatever, Robinson, 2:441); they are abundant, however, and even grow wild in Arabia (in Arabia Petraea they were anciently found here and there, Ex 15:27; Nu 33:9; comp. Burckhardt, Reisen, 2:815; Robinson, 1:256, 264), in Egypt (Strabo, 17, p. 818; Gellius, 7:16, 5; Prosp. Alpin. Plantt. Eig. c. 7) and Persia (Kampfer, Amnen. p. 669: on the extent of the date-palm, see Link, Urwelt, 1:347 sq.; Arago, in the Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes, 1834), in which countries it has from antiquity been regarded as the choicest of fruit-trees (Strabo, 16:742; Plato, Sympos. 8:4-5; compare Hasselquist, p. 541). It loves a light, sandy, warm soil (Josephus, War, 3:10, 8), yet not one deficient in moisture (Sirach 24:14; Strabo, 16:776; Pallad. R. R. 11:12), attains a height of 30 to 40 (in some instances 60 and even 100) feet, and lives till about 200 years old (Pliny, 16:89; Plutarch, Sympos. 8:4, 2; Shaw, p. 128; comp. [in the Sept.] Job 29:18); it has a slim (Song 7:7), straight, single trunk of 10 to 18 inches' diameter, covered rather with the scaly remains of the boughs that have fallen or broken off than with a proper bark. At its summit only the palm bears a large number (40 to 80) slender branches, which, growing shorter and shorter towards the top (the bottom ones being some 20 feet long), and bending at the ends in a curve towards the ground, enclose a considerable extent of shade (Wellsted, 1:70). The boughs generally surround the body in a circle six in number, and put forth rush- like, sword-shaped, evergreen (Ps 92:13; comp. Shaw, p. 128) leaves, about 2 inches broad, and 8 to 12 feet long. In the midst of the topmost and youngest branches is found a pointed, pithy heart (ἐγκέφαλον, or head), nearly two yards in length, which contains the buds of new twigs and leaves (this, when cut off, was relished as a dainty article of food from the taste of the drupes, Theophr. Plantt. 2:8; Pliny, 13:9; Mishna, Okzin, 3, 7; Mariti, Trav. p. 407). Staminate and pistillate flowers are upon separate stems. This renders an artificial fertilization necessary in order to insure the produce (see Mishna, Pesach, 4:8; Ammian. Marc. 24:3, p. 13, Bip.), for which the right time must be very exactly observed. For in February there appear on the stem, at the joints of the lowest branches, long (even one yard) capsules, enclosed in a leathery skin, which in May shoot up into male blossoms and female buttons. The former are now plucked off (about March), slit through the length, and inserted upon the female germs (Kampfer, Amon. p. 707; Hasselquist, p. 133, 223 sq.; Shaw, p. 127; Thevenot, 2:170). SEE BOUGH.
The fruit (Talm. כֻּתֶּבֶת, Surenhusius, Mischna, 2:253; 6:91), which comes to maturity in about five months (August and September, or October), hangs in clusters (Song 7:7) together, in form like the acorn, but mostly larger, and with a fine ruddy (Diod.Sic. 2:53) or white skin. The best kind is call jeni. They were sometimes used in a fresh state (Heliod. Eth. 2:23; comp. Hasselquist, p. 540) as a very common article of food (Burckhardt, Arab. p. 45, 575; Harmar, 3, 415), sometimes dried as a dessert-fruit (Xenoph. Anab. 2:3, 15), and sometimes their juice was pressed out (comp. Jonathan's Targum on Deuteronomy 8:8), which, as date-wine οϊvνος φοινίκων), was made use of from ancient times (Herod. 1:193; 3, 86; Xenoph. Anab. 2:3, 14; Pliny, 13:9; 14:19; Philostr. Apol. 2:6, 1; Athen. 14:651; Strabo, xvi, p. 742; Dioscor. v. 40; Wilkinson, 3, 174 sq.), or occasionally boiled down into a kind of palm-honey (Targ. Jon. and Jerus. on De 8:3; Strabo, 11:742; Pliny, 13:9; Ammian. Marcel. 23:10; Josephus, War, 4:8, 3; Shaw, p. 128; Heeren, Ideen, I, 2:46). SEE WINE; SEE HONEY. The dates (caryotce, φοινικοβάλανοι) left by this last operation of squeezing, being still fulr. ther subjected to the action of hot water, and thus macesrated, are made into an inferior but palatable wine. The ripe dates are also at the present day pressed into large, firm, caky masses, which serve the travelers in caravans as a satisfying and refreshing aliment (Sonnini, 2:26; Burckhardt, Arab. p. 45), This is the form, similar to that of raisins or figs, in which they appear in modern commerce. From the twigs (ribs of the leaves) baskets are made (Mishna, Chel. 26:1), also bird-cages and other wicker-ware; their fibres are twisted into ropes and thread, but the leaves themselves are manufactured into baskets, mats, and brooms (Horace, Sat. 2:4, 83; Mishna, Okzin, 1:3; Pococke, East, 1:306; Dobel, Wander. 2:194: hence the palm-twigs were called καλλυντήρια or κάλλυντρα; compare Sept. at Le 23:42 sq., כִּפּוֹת תּמָרַים; accordingly, in Song 7:8, by סִנסַנַּים, boughs, we are to understand the crown of the palm; ascetics used the leaves for clothing, Jerome, Opp. 2:10; they are now made into fans). The Jews employed palm-branches on the Feast of Tabernacles (Le 23:40; Ne 8:15; like the Egyptians in honor of Osiris, Minutoli, p. 16), and on festive occasions they carried them before princes and distinguished personages, and waved them in token of joy and triumph (Re 7:9; comp. Virgil, Georg. 2:47; AEn. v. 111; Plutarch, Sympos. 8:4, 1; 1 Maccabees 13:51; Joh 12:13; Philo, Opp. 1:101; Minutoli, Trav. tab. 13). Even the kernels of the dates are made use of at the present day as fodder for cattle (Burckhardt, Arab. p. 542). The seed of the male tree, which sheds a fragrant odor, is greedily eaten by the modern Arabs (Wellsted, 1:200). The wood is very spongy, but it lasts pretty well as building material for inside beams (Xenophon, Cyrop. 7:5, 11; Strabo, 15:731; 16:739; 17:822. See generally Theophr. Plantt. 2:6 (Sprengel, Erlaut. 2:73 sq.); Plin. 13:6 sq.; Descr. de l'Egypte, 17:108 sq.; Celsius, 2:445 sq.; Oken, Lehrb. d. Botanilk, II, 1:1003 sq. SEE PALMTREE.