( מִלּוֹח -, mallu'ach, salted; Sept. ἄλιμον, Vulg. herba) occurs only in the passage where Job complains that he is subjected to the contumely of the meanest people, those "who cut up mallows by the bushes for their meat" (Job 30:4). The proper meaning of the word malluach has been a subject of considerable discussion among authors, in consequence, apparently, of its resemblance to the Greek μαλἀχη, signifying "mallow," and also to nmaluch, which is said to be the Syriac name of a species of Orache, or Atriplex. It is difficult, if not impossible, to say which is the more correct interpretation, as both appear to have some foundation in truth, and seem equally adapted to the sense of the above-quoted passage. (See Gesenius, Thesaur. Heb. p. 791). The malache of the Greeks is distinguished by Dioscorides into two kinds, of which he states that the cultivated is more fit for food than the wild kind. Arabic authors apply the description of Dioscorides to khub-bazi, a name which in India is applied both to species of Malva rotundifolia and of M. sylvestris, which extend from Europe to the north of India, and which are still used as food in the latter country, as they formerly were in Europe, and probably in Syria. That some kind of mallow has been so used in Syria we have evidence in the quotation made by Mr. Harmer from Biddulph, who says, "We saw many poor people collecting mallows and three-leaved grass, and asked them what they did with it; and they answered, that it was all their food, and that they boiled it, and did eat it." Dr. Shaw, in his Travels, on the contrary, observes that "Mellou-keah, or mulookiah, מלוחיא, as in the Arabic, is the same with the melochia or corchorus, being a podded species of mallows, whose pods are rough, of a glutinous substance, and used in most of their dishes. Mellou-keah appears to be little different in name from מלוה (Job 30:4), which we render 'mallows,' though some other plant, of a more saltish taste, and less nourishing quality, may be rather intended." The plant alluded to is Corchorus olitorius, which has been adopted and figured in her Scripture Herbal (p. 255) by lady Calcott, who observes that this plant, called Jews' Mallow, appears to be certainly that mentioned by the patriarch. Avicenna calls it olus Judaicum; and Rauwolf saw the Jews about Aleppo use the leaves as potherbs; "and this same mallow continues to be eaten in Egypt and Arabia, as well as Palestine." But there are so many plants of a mild mucilaginous nature which are used as articles of diet in the East, that it is hardly possible to select one in preference to another, unless we find a similarity in the name. Thus species of Amaranthus, of Chenopodium, of Portulacca, as well as the above Corchorus, and the mallow, are all used as food, and might be adduced as suitable to the above passages, since most of them are found growing wild in many parts of the countries of the East.
The learned Bochart, however, contends (Hieroz. part 1, t. 3, c. 16) that the word malluach denotes a saltish plant called ἃλιμος by the Greeks, and which with good reason is supposed to be the Atriplex halimus of botanists, or tall shrubby Orache. The Sept., indeed, first gave ἄλιμα as the interpretation of malluach. Celsius adopts it (Hierobot. 2:96 sq.), and many others consider it as the most correct. A good abstract of Bochart's arguments is given by Dr. Harris. In the first place the most ancient Greek translator interprets malluach by halimos. That the Jews were in the habit of eating a plant called by the former name is evident from the quotation given by Bochart from the Talmudical tract Kiddusin (c. 3:65). By Ibn- Buetar, malukh is given as the synonym of al-kutuf al-buhuri. i.e. the sea- side Kutuf or Orache, which is usually considered to be the Atriplex marinum, now A. halimus. Bochart, indeed, remarks that Dioscorides describes the halimus as a shrub with branches, destitute of thorns, with a leaf like the olive, but broader, and growing on the sea-shore. This notice evidently refers to the ἃλιμος (Dioscor. 1:121), which, as above stated, is supposed to be the Atriplex halimnus of botanists, and the Kutuf buhuri of the Arabs, while the ἀτράφαξις of the same author (2:145) is their kutuf
and A triplex hortensis, Linnaeus. Bochart quotes Galen as describing the tops of the former as being used for food when young. Dioscorides also says that its leaves are employed for the same purpose. (Comp. Theophrast. Plant. 4:17; Athen. Deipn. 4:161; Horace, Ep. 1:12, 7; Pliny, 21:55; Tournefort, Trav. 1:41.) What the Arab writers state as to the tops of the plants being eaten corresponds to the description of Job, who states that those to whom he refers cropped upon the shrub — which by some is supposed to indicate that the malluach grew near hedges. These, however, do not exist in the desert. There is no doubt that species of Orache were used as articles of diet in ancient times, and probably still are so in the countries where they are indigenous; but there are many other plants, similar in nature, that is, soft and succulent, and usually very saline, such as the Salsolas, Salicornias, etc., which, like the species of Atriplex, belong to the same natural family of Chenopodece, and which, from their saline nature, have received their respective names. Many of these are well known for yielding soda by incineration. In conformity with this, Mr. Good thinks that "the real plant is a species of Salsola, or 'salt-wort;' and that the term ἄλιμα, employed in the Greek versions, gives additional countenance to this conjecture." Some of these are shrubby, but most of them are herbaceous, and extremely common in all the dry, desert, and saline soils which extend from the south of Europe to the north of India. Most of them are saline and bitter, but some are milder in taste and mucilaginous, and are therefore employed as articles of diet, as spinach is in Europe. Salsola Indica, for instance, which is common on the coasts of the Peninsula of India, Dr. Roxburgh states, saved the lives of many thousands of the poor natives of India during the famine of 1791-2-3; for, while the plant lasted, most of the poorer classes who lived near the sea had little else to eat; and, indeed, its green leaves ordinarily form an essential article of the food of those natives who inhabit the maritime districts. For other interpretations, see Rosenmüller (ad loc. Job.). Mr. Tristram (Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 466) decides in favor of the above species of sea-purslane (A triplex halimnus), which he says "grows abundantly on the shores of the Mediterranean, in salt marshes, and also on the shores of the Dead Sea still more luxuriantly. We found thickets of it of considerable extent on the west side of the sea, and it exclusively supplied us with fuel for many days. It grows there to the height of ten feet-more than double its size on the Mediterranean. It forms a dense mass of thin twigs without thorns, has a very minute purple flower close to the stem, and small, thick, sour-tasting leaves, which could be eaten, as is the
Atriplex hortensis, or Garden Orache, but it would be very miserable food."