Gourd is the rendering in the Auth. Vers. of two Heb. words.
1. JONAH'S GOURD (קִיקָיוֹן kikayon', Sept. κολοκύντη,Vulg. hedera), the name of a plant that occurs only in Jon 4:6-10; according to the Sept. and Peshito, a gourd; but according to Jerome (who underwent much obloquyyfor substituting "ivy" for the "gourd" of the old Italic vers.; see Davidson's Bib. Crit. 1:267), the Talmud, and the Hebrew interpreters generally, a species of ricinus, the palma Christi Arabic el-kherwa, Egyptian κίκ or κούκι (Diod. Sicblus, 1:3). From the Statements of the text, it appears that the growth of the kikayon was miraculous, but that it was probably a plant of the country, being named specifically; also that it was capable of affording shade, and might easily be destroyed. There does not appear anything in this account to warrant us in considering it to be the ivy, which is a, plant of slow growth, cannot support itself, and is, moreover, not likely to be fans is the hot and and country of ancient Nineveh, but which was adduced by Jerome probably only as a conjecture from thee resemblance of its Greek name κισσός to kikayon. That the kikayon was thought to be a gourd seems to have arisen from the kiki of the Egyptians being the kherwsa of the Arabs, often incorrectly written keroa, that is, without the aspirate, which makes it very similar to kura when written in Roman characters, whichilast in the East is applied to the gourd or pumpkin (Avicenna, c. 622), and is probably the Lagenaria vulgaris. To this plant no doubt, the followilg passages refer: "The Christians and Jews of Mosui (Nineveh) say it was not the keroa whose shadow refreshed Jonah, but a sort of gourd, elakera, which has very large leaves, very large fruit, and lasts but about sfour months" (Niebuhr, Arabia, page 148). So Volney: "Whoever has traveled to Cairo or Rosetta knows that the species of gourd called kerra will, in twenty-four hours, send out shoots near four inches long" (Travels, 1:71). In Jerome's own description of the plant, however (Comment. ad loc.), called in Syr. karo, and Punic. el-keroa, Celsius recognizes the castor-oil plant (Hierobot. 2:273 sq.; Bochart, Hiersoz. 2:293, 623). The Ricinus was seen by Rauwolf (Trav. page 52) in great abundance near Tripoli, where the Arabs called it el-kerua, while both Hasselquist and Robinson observed veiry large specimens of it in the neighborrhood of Jericho ("Ricinus in altitudinem arboris insignis," Hanselquist, Trav. page 555; see also Robinson, Res. 1:553). The Hebrew name kikayon is so similar to the kkiki of Dioscorides, that it was early thought to indicate the same plant. Di'scorides (4:164, περὶ κίκεως) states that the kiki, or croton, is called wild sesamum by some; sand proceeds to give in a few words a graphic description of the Ricinus communisa or castor-oil plant. It has also been. called Pentadactylus and Palma Christi, froma the palmate division of its leaves. It was known at much earlier times, as Hippocrates employed it in medicine; and Herodotus mentions it by thee name of σιλλικύπριον (2:94) when speaking of Egypt: "The inhabitants of the marshy grounds make use of an oil which they term kiki, expressed from the Silbicyprian plant." That it has been known there from the earliest times is evident from Caillaud having found castor-oil seeds in some very ancient sarcophagi. That the. Arabs considered their kherwa to be the same plant is evident from Avicenna on this article, or kherwaa of the translation of Plempius (page 301); so Sesrapiona (3, c. 79). But most decisive of all seems the derivation of the Hebrew word from the Egyptian kiki (Herodot. 2:94; comp. Bärh, ado; and Jablonsky, Opusc. part 1, page 110), established by Celsius, with whose arguments Michaelis declares himself entirely satisfied (J.D. Mich. Supplem.); and confirmed by the Talmudical שֶׁמֶן קִיֵק, prepared the seeds of the ricinus (Buxtorf, Lex. Chald. Talmud. col. 2029), and Dioscorides, 4:164, where κρότων (=Pabnma Christi) is described under the name of sictsa, and the oil made from its seeds is called κίκινον ἔλαιον (Rosenmüller, page 127). Lady Calcott states that the modern Jews of London use this oil, by the name of oil of kik, for their Sabbath lamps, it being one of the five kinds of oil — which their traditions allow them to employ. The castor-oil plant attains a considerable size in one season; and though in Europe it is, only known as an herb, in India it frequently may be seen, especialby at the margins of fields, of the size of a tree. So at Busra, Niebuhr, saw an el-keroa which had the form and appearance of a tree. From the erect habit, and the breadth of its foliage, this plant throws an ample shade, especially when young. From the softness and little substance of its stem, it may easily be destroyed by insects, which Rumphius' describes as sometimes being the case. It would then necessarily dry up rapidly. As it is well suited to the country, and to the purpose indicated in the text, and as its name khki is so similar to kikayon, it is generally thought by interpreters to be the plant which the sacred penmans had in view.
This opinion, however that the first-named plant above is the true representative of Jonah's gourd, is viewed by the Reverend H. Lobdell, M.D., missionary in Assyria, in a letter published in the Bibliotheca Sacra April 6, 1855, page 395 sq., who says, "The Mohammedans, Christians, and Jews all agree in referring the, plant to the hera, a kind of pumpkin peculiar to the East. The leaves are large, and the rapidity of growth astonishing. Its fruit is for the most part eaten in a fresh state, and is somewhat like the squash. It has no more than a generic resemblance to the gourd of the United States, though I suppose that both are a species of the cucurbita. It is grown ins great abundance o n the alluvial banks of the Tigris, and on the plain between the river and the ruins of Nineveh, which is about a mile wide... The castor-oil plant is cultivated, indeed, to some extent here, but is never trained, like the kera, to run over structures of mud and brush to form booths in which the gardeners may protect themselves from the teerible heats of the Asiatic sun. I have seen a at a single glance dozens of these booths these lodges in the fields of melons and cucumbers around the old walls of Nineveh (Isa 1:8) covered with the vines of the kera, of which there are numerous species, the fruit of which weighs from one to fifty pounds. One species, growing in Kurdistan, a few days distant from Mosul, is a genuine gourd; but. there is no probability that it ever flourished on the hot plains of Mosul." The same view is taken by Thomson (Land and Book, 1:96 sq.), who says that "Orientals never dream of training a castor-oil plant over a booth, or planting it for shade; and they would have but small respect for anyone who did. It is in no way adapted for that purpose, while thousands of arbors are covered with various creepers of the gourd family. The gourd grows with extraordinary rapidity. In a few day's after it has begun to run the whole arbor is covered. It forms a shade absolutely impenetrable to the sun's rays even at noonday. It flourishes best in the very hottest part of nummer. Lastly, when injured, or cut, it withers away with equal rapidity." SEE JONAH.
2. WILD GOURDS (פִּקֻּ וֹת, pakkuöth; Sept., τολύπη Vulg. colocynsthida). It is related in 2Ki 4:38-40 that Elisha, having come again to Gilgal, when there was a famine in the land, and many sons of the prophets were assembled there, he ordered his servant to prepare for them a dish of vegetables: "One went out into the field to gather herbs (orotha, and found a wild vine (גֶּפֶּן שָׂדֶה field-vine), and gathered thereof wild gourds (פִּקֻּ ת שָׂדֶה field pakkuoth) his lap-full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage, for they knew them not." "So they poured out for the men to eat; but as they were eating of the pottage, they cried out, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot; and they could not eat thereof." Though a few other plants have been indicated, the pakkuoth has almost universally been supposed to be one of the family of the gourd or cucumber-like plants, several of which are conspicuous for their bitterness, and a few poisonous, while others, it is well-known, are edible. The reasons are gives in detail by Celsius (Hierobot. 1:393).
(1.) The name is supposed to be derived from פָּקִ , "to split," or "to burst," from the exploding of the fruit, and scattering the seeds on being touched; and thisn is the characteristic of the species called the Mild cucumber, by the ancients.
(2.) The forms of the fruit appears to have been ovoid, as the name is essentially the same with that of the "knops," or פּקָ ים, pekainm', of 1Ki 6:18; 1Ki 7:24, rendered "eggs" in the Chaldaic version of Johathan, to whom the form of the fruit could not have been known.
(3.) The seeds of the pakkuoth, moreover, yielded oil, as appears from the tract Shabbath(ii, § 2). The seeds of the different gourd and cucumber-like plants are well known to yield oil, which was employed by the ancients, and still is in the East, both as medicine and in the arts.
(4.) The bitterness which was probably perceived on eating of the pottage, and which disappeared on the addition of meal, is found in many of the cucumber tribe, and conspicuously in the species which have usually been selected as the pakkuoth, that is, the Colocynth (Cucumis Colocynthis), the Squirting Cucumber (Momordica elaterium), and Cucumis prophetarum; all of which are found in Syria, as related lay various travelers. The first, or Coloqusntida, is essentially a desert plant. Kitto says: "In the desert parts of Syria, Egypt, and Arabia, andson the banks of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, its tendrils run over vast tracts of ground, offering a prodigious number of gourds, which sare crushed under foot by camels, horses, and men. In winter we have seen the extent of many miles covered with the connecting tendrils and dry gourds of the preceding season, the latter exhibiting precisely the same appearance as in our shops, and when crushed, with a crackling noise, beneath the feet, discharging, in the. form of a light powder, the valuable drug which it contains" (Pict. Bible, note ad loc.). In the Arabic version, hunzal (which is the Colocynth) is used as the synonyme for pakkuoth in 2Ki 4:39. The third, or Globe Cucumber, "derives its specific name (Cucumis prophetam) from the notion that it afforded the gourd which 'the sons of the prophets' shred by mistake into their pottage, and which made them declare, when they came to taste "it, that there was 'death in the pot.' This plant is 'smaller in every part than the common melon, and has a nauseous odor, while its fruit is to the full as bitter as the Coloquintida. The fruit has a rather singular assurance from the manner in which its surface is armed with prickles, which are "however, soft and harmless" (Kitto, Pict. Palestine; Physical Geog. page 281). But this plant, the fruit not being bigger than a cherry, does not appear likely to have been that which was shred into the pot. Celsius, however, is of opinion that the second of the above-named species, the Cucumis aerestis of the ancients, and which was found by Belos in descending from Mount Sinae, was the plant, being the Cucumis asinsisus of the druggists. This plant is a well-known drastic purgative, element enough in its actions to be considered even a poison. Its fruit is ovate, obtuse, and scabrous, and likely to have been the plant mistaken for oroth, as it miglit certainly be mistaken for young gherkins. The wild cucmmber bursts, at the touch of the finger. and scatters its seeds, which the colocynth does not (Rosenmuller, 'Alterthumsk 4 part 1, etc.). The etymology of the word from פּקִ has been thought to favor the identification of the plant with the Ecbalium elaterium, or "squirting cucumber," so called from the elasticity with which the fruit, when ripe, opens and scatters the seeds when touched. This is the ἄγριος σίκυος of Dioscorides (4:152) and Theophrastus (7:6, § 4, etc.), and the Cucumis sylvestris of Pliny (Hist. Nat. 20:2). Celsius (Hierob. 1:393), Rosenmüller (Bib. Bot. pge 128), and Gesenius (Thes. page 1122) are in favor of this explanation, and, it must be confessed, not without some reason. The old versions, however, understand the colocynth, the fruit of which is about the size of an orange. The drastic medicine in such general use is a preparation from this plant. Michaelis (Suppl. Lex. Heb. page 344) and Oedmann (Vers. Samml. 4:88) adopt this explanation.