(i.e. VETCHES or chick-pea), the incorrect rendering, in the Auth. Vers., of two Heb. words. SEE BOTANY.
1. קֶצִח (kettsa'h, something strewn), which occurs only in Isa 28:25,27, where especial reference is made to the mode of threshing it; not with "a threshing instrument," מוֹרִג, חָרוּוֹ), but "with a staff" (מִטֶה), because the heavy-armed cylinders of the former implement would have crushed it. Although ketsach, in Chaldee קִצחָא (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 2101), is always acknowledged to denote some seed, yet interpreters have had great difficulty in determining the particular kind 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 black seed common in Egypt, etc. (Celsius, Hiesrobot. ii, 70). The Sept. translates it μελάνθιον, the Vulg. gith (perhaps from the Heb. גִּד, coriander; see Plautus, Rud. v, 3, 39), and Tremellius melanthium, while the Arabic has shuznez. All these mean the same thing, namely, a very black-colored and aromatic seed, "fennel- flower" or "black cumin," still cultivated and in daily employment as a condiment in the East. Thus Pliny (xx, 17,71), "Gith, from the Greeks, others call melanthion, and still others melanspermon. The best is that of the most pungent smell, and blackest." By Dioscorides (iii, 93), or the ancient author who is supposed to have added the synonymes, we are informed that μελάνθιον was also called the "wild black poppy," that the seed was black; acrid, and aromatic, and that it was added to bread or cakes. Pliny also says, " The seed of the melanthium or melanspermum makes an excellent confection in the loaves" (xix, 8). Mlfelanthium is universally recognised by botanists to be the Nigella. Thus Bauhin Pinax, "Nigella, from the black color of the seed, is commonly called μελάνθιον." The shunez of the Arabs is, moreover, the same plant or seed, which is usually called "black cumin." So one kind of cumin is said by Dioscorides to have seeds like those of melanthion or nigella. It was commonly cultivated in Egypt, and P. Alpinus mentions it as "Suneg Egyptiis." The Arabs, besides shunez, also call it hub-al-souda, and the Persians seah dana, both words signifying black seed. One species, named Nigella Indica by Dr. Roxburgh, is called kalajira in India, that is, black zlra or cumin, of the family of Ranunculacese. " Nigella sativa is alone cultivated in India, as in most Eastern countries, and continues in the present day, as in the most ancient times, to be used both as a condiment and as a medicine" (Illusto Himal. Byt. p. 46). If we consider that this appears to have always been one of the cultivated grains of the East, and compare the character of nigella with the passages in which ketsach is mentioned, we shall find that the former is applicable to them all. Indeed, Rabbi Obadias de Bartenora states that the barbarous or vulgar name of the
ketsach was nielle, that-is, nigella. The Nigella sativa is a garden plant, which commonly attains the height of an ell, with narrow leaves, like the leaves offennel, a blue flower, out of which is formed, on the very top of the plant, an oblong muricate capsule, the interior of which is, by means of thin membranes, separated into compartments containing a seed of a very black color not unlike the poppy, but of a pleasant smell, and a sharp taste not finlike pepper. 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 ketsach of the text. SEE THRESHING.
Besides the N. sativa, there is another species, the N. arvemmais, which may be included under the term ketsach; but the seeds of this last-named plant are less aromatic than the other. They are annual plants belonging to the natural order Ranunculacece, and suborder Helleboresa. The nigella far-ms a singular exception among the family to which it belongs, inasmuch as they are terrible poisons, while the nigeala produces seeds that are not only wholesome and aromatic, but are in great reputation for their medicinal qualities. SEE AROMATICS.
2. In Eze 4:9, fitches" are mentioned among the materials of the bread the prophet was bidden to make, but there it represents the Heb. word כֻּסֶּמֶת, kusse'meth. This word is incorrectly translated in A.V. "rye" (q.v.) in Ex 9:32, and Isa 28:25; but in the latter place, as in Eze 4:9, we have the marginal reading "' spelt," which is the true rendering of the word. The -root of כֻּסֶּמֶת is כָּסִם, to shear, and the species of corn to which it-gives a name is the 'Triticum spelta of Linnous- in Greek ζἐα; in Latin far and ador. " Spelt has a four-leaved blunted calix, small blossoms, with little awns, and a smooth, slender ear (as it were shorn), the grains of which sit so firmly in the husks that they must be freed from them by peculiar devices; it grows about as high as barley, and is extensively cultivated in the southern countries of Europe, in Egypt, Arabia, and Palestine, in more than one species. The Sept. translate it by ὄλυρα, in Pliny arinca, which corresponds with the French riguet; and 'Herodotus. (ii, 36) observes that it was used by the Egyptians as for baking bread" (Kalisch ama Ex 9:32). SEE CEREALS.