(הֲדִס, hadas', so called, perhaps, from its springing up rapidly) occurs in Isa 41:19; Isa 4:6; Ne 8:15; Zec 1:8,10-11; and is identical with the Arabic hadas, which in the dialect of Arabia Felix signifies the myrtle-tree (Richardson, Pers. and Arabic Dict.). The myrtle is, moreover, known throughout Eastern countries under the name As, by which it is described in Arabic works; and its berries are sold in the bazaars of India under this name (Illust. Himal. Bot. page 217). The name Esther is supposed by Simon (Bibl. Cabinet, 11:269) to be a compound of As and tur, and so to mean a flesh myrtle; and hence it would appear to be very closely allied in signification to Hadassah, the original name of Esther. Almost all translators unite in considering the myrtle as intended in the above passages; the Sept. has μυρσίνη, and the Vulg. nyrtus. The myrtle has from the earliest periods been highly esteemed in all the countries of the south of Europe, and is frequently mentioned by the poets (Virg. Ecl. 2:54). By the Greeks and Romans it was dedicated to Venus (Virg. Georg. 4:124; Ovid, Met. 9:334; 11:232; Amnor. 1:1, 29), and employed in making wreaths to crown lovers (Pliny, 15:36; Diod. Sic. 1:17); but among the Jews it was the emblem of justice. The note of the Chaldee Targum on the name' Esther, according to Dr. Harris, is, "they call her Hadassah because she was just, and those that are just are compared to myrtles." The repute which the myrtle enjoyed in ancient times it still retains, notwithstanding the great accession of ornamental shrubs and flowers which has been made to the gardens and greenhouses of Europe. This is justly due to the rich coloring of its dark-green and shining leaves, contrasted with the white starlike clusters of its flowers, affording in hot countries a pleasant shade under its branches, and diffusing an agreeable odor from its flowers or bruised leaves. It is, however, most agreeable in appearance when in the state of a shrub, for when it grows into a tree, as it does ill hot countries, the traveller looks under instead of over its leaves, and a multitude of small branches are seen deprived of their leaves by the crowding of the upper ones. This shrub is common in the southern provinces of Spain and France, as well as in Italy and Greece; and also on the northern coast of Africa, and in Syria. The poetical celebrity of this plant had, no doubt, some influence upon its employment in medicine, and numerous properties are ascribed to it by Dioscorides (1:127). It is aromatic and astringent, and hence, like many other such plants, forms a stimulant tonic, and is useful in a variety of complaints connected with debility. Its berries were formerly employed in Italy (Pliny, 15:35), and still are so in Tuscany, as a substitute for spices, now imported so plentifully from the far East. A wine was also prepared from them, which was called myrtidatnum (Pliny, 15:37), and their essential oil is possessed of excitant properties (Pliny, 23:44). In many parts of Greece and Italy the leaves are employed in tanning leather. The myrtle, possessing so many remarkable qualities, was not likely to have escaped the notice of the sacred writers, as it is a well-known inhabitant of Judaea. Hasselquist and Burckhardt both notice it as occurring on the hills around Jerusalem. It is also found in the valley of Lebanon. Capt. Light, who visited the country of the Druses in 1814, says he "again proceeded up the mountain by the side of a range of hills abounding with myrtles in full bloom, that spread their fragrance around," and, further on, "we crossed through thickets of myrtle." Irby and Mangles (page 222) describe the rivers from Tripoli towards Galilee as generally pretty, their banks covered with the myrtle, olive, wild vine, etc. Savary, as quoted by Dr. Harris, describing a scene at the end of the forest of Platanea, says, " Myrtles, intermixed with laurelroses, grow in the valleys to the height of ten feet. Their snow-white flowers, bordered with a purple edging, appear to peculiar advantage under the verdant foliage. Each myrtle is loaded with them, and they emit perfumes more exquisite than those of the rose itself. They enchant every one, and the soul is tilled with tine softest sensations." When the Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated by the Jews on the return from Babylon, the people of Jerusalem were ordered to "go forth unto the mount and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and to make booths." The prophet Isaiah foretells the coming golden age of Israel, when the Lord shall plant in the wilderness "the shittah-tree, and the myrtle-tree, and the oil-tree." The modern Jews still adorn with myrtle the booths and sheds at the Feast of Tabernacles. Myrtles (Ayrtus communis) will grow either on hills or in valleys, but it is in the latter locality where they attain to their greatest perfection. Formerly, as we learn from Nehemiah (Ne 8:15), myrtles grew on the hills about Jerusalem. "On Olivet," says Prof. Stanley, "Lnothing is now to be seen but the olive and the fig tree," but Dr. Hooker says the myrtle is not uncommon in Samaria and Galilee. See Celsii Hiierobot. 2:17 sq.; Bodlei Conmm. cod Theophr. page 375 sq.; Billerbeck, Flora class. p. 122; Loudon, Arboreticum Britansmicum, 3:962; Tristram, Nut. Hist. of the Bible, page 365 sq.

Bible concordance for MYRTLE.

Definition of myrtle

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