Mulberry stands in the Auth. Vers. as the rendering of the Heb. בָּכָא (baka', regarded by Gesenius, Heb. Lex. s.v., as if from בָּכָה, to weep), or in the plur. בּכָאַים (bekaim'); which occurs, the first in Ps 84:6, "Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools;" the second in 2Sa 5:23-24, and in 1Ch 14:14-15, where the Philistines having spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim, David was ordered to attack them from behind, "And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry-trees, that thou shalt bestir thyself." In the former of these passages the term is usually regarded as an appellative, i.q. "the valley of tears" (so the Sept. ἡ κοιλὰς τοῦ κλαυθμῶνος, Vulg. vallis lachrynmarum; SEE BACA ); but in the latter two it undoubtedly designates some tree or shrub (the Sept. has also κλαυθμῶν in 2 Samuel, but ἄπιοςin I Chronicles; the Vulg. pyrus in both places). The Jewish rabbins, with several modern versions, understand the mulberry-tree; others retain the Hebrew word. Neither the mulberry nor the pear tree, however, satisfies translators and commentators, because they do not possess any characters particularly suitable to the above passages. With regard to the mulberry, Rosenmuller justly observes (Alterth. 4, 1:247 sq.; Bibl. Bot. page 256) that this interpretation "is countenanced neither by the ancient translators nor by the occurrence of any similar term in the cognate languages"-unless we adopt the opinion of Ursinus, who (Arbor. Bib. 3:75), having in view the root of the word bakah, "to weep," identifies the name of the tree in question with the mulberry, "from the blood-like tears which the pressed berries pour forth." The mulberry-tree, moreover, appears to have another name in Scripture, namely, the "sycamine." Though there is no evidence to show that the mulberry-tree occurs in the Hebrew Bible, yet the fruit of this tree (μόρον) is mentioned in 1 Macc. 6:34 as having been, together with grape-juice, shown to the elephants of Antiochus Eupator, in order to irritate these animals and make them more formidable opponents to the army of the Jews. It is well known that many animals are enraged when they see blood or anything of the color of blood. SEE SYCAMINE.
Celsius (1:339) quotes Abu'l Fadli's description of a shrub of Mecca called baca. with abundant fruit, distilling a juice from its branches when cut (whence the name, i.q. tear), and of a warming property; apparently some species of Amyris or Balsamodendron. Most lexicographers are satisfied with this explanation. That plant is probably the same with the one referred to by Forskal (page 198) among the obscure plants without fructification which he obtained from Jobbe, and which he says was called baka, or ebka, with a poisonous milky sap. If this be the same as the former, both are still unknown any further, and we cannot therefore determine whether they are found in Palestine or not. As to the tree of which Abu'l Fadli speaks, and which Sprengel (Hist. rei herb. page 12) identifies with Amyris Gileadensis, Lin., it is impossible that it can denote the baka of the Hebrew Bible, although there is an exact similarity in form between the Hebrew and Arabic terms; for the Anmyridacce are tropical shrubs, and never could have grown in the valley of Rephaim, the scriptural locality for the bekaim.
"The tree alluded to in Scripture, whatever it is, must be common in Palestine, must grow in the neighborhood of water, have its leaves easily moved, and have a name in some of the cognate languages similar to the Hebrew baka. The only one answering to these conditions is that called bak by the Arabs, or rather shajrat-al-bak that is, the fly or gnat tree. It seems to be so called from its seeds, when loosened from their capsular covering, floating about like gnats, in consequence of being covered with light, silk-like hairs, as is the case with those of the willow. In Richardson's Arabic dictionary the balk-tree is considered to be the elm; but from a passage of Dioscorides, preserved by Plempius, the dirdar of the Arabians seems to be another kind of bak-tree, probably the arbor culicumn (tree of gnats) of the Latin translators of Avicenna. Now in other Arabic authors the dirdar is said to be a kind of ghurb, and the ghurb is ascertained to be the Lombardy poplar (Illust. Himal. Bot. page 344). As it seems therefore tolerably clear that the bak-tree is a kind of poplar, and as the Arabic bak is very similar to the Hebrew baka [but in the Heb. the k in the name is כ, while in the Arabic it is that which corresponds to ק], so it is probable that one of the kinds of poplar may be intended in the above passages of Scripture. And it must be noted that the poplar is as appropriate as any tree can be for the elucidation of the passages in which the name occurs. For the poplar is well known to delight in moist situations, and bishop Horne, in his Comm. on Psalm 84. has inferred that in the valley of Baca the Israelites, on their way to Jerusalem, were refreshed by plenty of water. It is not less appropriate in the passages in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, as no tree is more remarkable than the poplar for the ease with which its leaves are rustled by the slightest movement of the air; an effect which might be caused in a still night even by the movement of a body of men on the ground, when attacked in flank or while unprepared. That poplars are common in Palestine may be proved from Kitto's Palestine, page 114: 'Of poplars we only know, with certainty, that the black poplar, the aspen, and the Lombardy poplar grow in Palestine. The aspen, whose long leaf-stalks cause the leaves to tremble with every breath of wind, unites with the willow and the oak to overshadow the watercourses of the Lower Lebanon, and, with the oleander and the acacia, to adorn the ravines of Southern Palestine; we do not know that the Lombardy poplar has been noticed but by lord Lindsay, who describes it as growing with the walnut- tree and weeping-willow under the deep torrents of the Upper Lebanon.'" SEE POPLAR.