Thorn is the rendering, in many passages of the A.V., of eleven different Hebrew words and two (accurately only of one) Greek words ; but, as we will see below, there are no less than twenty-two words in the original languages of the Bible variously translated "thorn," "thistle," "brier," etc., and signifying thorny ~and prickly plants. Some of these, however, are probably so interpreted only because they are unknown, and may merely denote insignificant shrubs. We have elsewhere treated most of these in detail, and we therefore briefly recapitulate them below alphabetically, though we can hardly hope to throw much additional light upon what has already baffled so many inquirers. The difficulty of identifying them does not arise from any deficiency of thorny plants to which the Biblical names might be applied, but from the want of good reasons for selecting one plant more than another; for, as Celsius has said, "Fuerunt in Judaea haud pauca loca a spinis diversorum generum denominata, quod. esset htec terra non tantum
lacte et mellefluens, sed herbis quoque inutilibus, et spinis multifariis passim infestata." As examples, we may mention the genera of which some of the species are thorny, such as Acacia, Astragalus, Acanthodium, Alhagi, Fagonia, Tribulus, Berberis, Prunus, Rubus, Cratsegus, Solanum, Carduus, Cnicus, Onopordon, Eryngium, Rhamnus, Zizyphus; and of species which are named from thischaracteristic, Anabasis spinosissima, Paliurus aculeatus, Ruscus aculeatus, Forskalea tenacissima, Aristida pungens, Salsola echinus, Echinops spinosus, Bunias spinosa, Lycium spinosum, Poterium spinosum, Atraphaxis -spinosa, Prenanthes spinosa, Ononis spinosa, Smilax asper, Spartium spinosum, Zizyphus Spina Christi. SEE BOTANY.
In the morphology of plants it is now recognized that thorns are abortive or undeveloped branches, and in many cases under cultivation thorns become true branches. A spine or thorn, of which we have examples in the hawthorn and the sloe, must be distinguished from the prickles (aculei) which belong to the integumentary system of the plant, and which are really hardened hairs. Of these last we have examples in-the bramble and the rose, and in the animal economy we have something analogous in the spines of the hedgehog and the quills of the porcupine. "May we not see in the production of injurious thorns-an arrestment by the fiat of the Almighty in the formation of branches, and thus a blight passed on this part of creation a standing memorial of the effects of sin on what was declared at first to be very good? It is remarkable to notice that when Christ became a curse for his people, the Jews mocked him by putting on him a crown of thorns, and thus what was an indication of the fall of mal was used by them to insult the seed of the woman who came to bruise the head of the serpent. The removal of the curse from creation, which is now groaning and-travailing in pain, is frequently set forth by illustrations taken from the disappearance of briers and thorns (Isaiah Iv, 13; Eze 28:24)" (Balfour, Bot. and Relig. p. 110-115).
Dr. Thomson (Land and Book, 1, 81) illustrates Isa 33:12, "The people shall be as the burning of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire," by the following observation: "Those people yonder are cutting up thorns with their mattocks and pruning-hooks, and gathering them into bundles to be burned in these burlings of lime. It is a curious fidelity to real life that when the thorns are merely to be destroyed they are never cut up, but set on fire where they grow. They are cut up only for the lime-kiln" (see also ibid. 1, 527 sq. for other scriptural allusions).
1. AKANTHA (ἄκανθα.) occurs in Mt 7:16; Mt 13:7,22; Mt 27:27; and also in the parallel passages of Mark and Luke, and as forming the crown of thorns, in Joh 19:2,5. The word is used in as general a sense as "thorn" is with us, and therefore it would be incorrect to confine it to any one species of plant in all the above passages, though, no doubt, some particular thorny plant indigenous in the neighborhood of Jerusalem would be selected for plaiting the crown of thorns. Hasselquist says of the Nabca Paliurus Athencei of Alpinus, now Zizyphus Spina Christi, "In all probability, this is the tree which afforded the crown of thorns put upon the head of Christ. It is very common in the East. This plant is very fit for the purpose, for it has many small and sharp spines, which are well adapted to give pain: the crown might easily be made of these soft, round, and pliant branches; and what, in my opinion, seems to be the greater proof is that the leaves very much resemble those of ivy, as they are of a very deep glossy green. Perhaps the enemies of Christ would have a plant somewhat resembling that with which emperors and generals were crowned, that there might be a calumny even in the punishment." 'This plant is the nebk or dhom of the Arabs, which grows abundantly in Syria and Palestine, both in wet and dry places. Dr. Hooker noticed a specimen nearly forty feet high, spreading as widely as a good Quercots ilex in England. The nebk fringes the banks of the Jordan, and flourishes on the marshy banks of the Lake of Tiberias; it forms either. a shrub or a tree, and, indeed, is quite common all over the country. It grows to the height of six feet or more, and yields a slightly acid fruit, about the size of the sloe, which is eaten by the Egyptians and Arabs. Like its cognate, Paliurus, it abounds in flexible twigs, which are armed with a profusion of sharp, strong prickles, growing in pairs, the one straight, the other somewhat recurved (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 429). Some, however, have fixed upon Paliurus aculeatus, and others upon Lycium horridumn, as the plant which furnished the thorny wreath in question. SEE CROWN OF THORNS.
2. ATID (אָטָד; Sept. ἡ ῥάμνος; Vulg. rhamnus) occurs as a proper name in Ge 1; Ge 10; Ge 11: "the threshing floor of Atad." SEE ATAD. In the fable in Jg 9:14-15, the atdd, or "bramble," is called to reign over the trees. From Ps 58:9 it is evident that the atfd was employed for fuel: "Before your pots can feel the thorns." Atad is so similar to the Arabic
ausuj that it has generally been considered to mean the same plant, namely, a species of buckthorn. This is confirmed by atadmi being one of the synonyms of rhamnus, as given in the supplements to Dioscorides. A species of rhamnus is described both by Belon and by Rauwolf as being common in Palestine, and by the latter as found especially in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. It has been described by Alpinus as having an abundance of long branches, on which are found many long and very sharp thorns. So Rauwolf, "It puts forth long, slender, crooked switches, on which there are a great many long, strong, and acute thorns." This has been supposed by some to be the above-mentioned true Christ's thorn, Rhamnus, now Zizyphus Spina Christi; but by others the plant in question is supposed to be Lycium Europeum, or L. afrumn (box-thorn), both of which species occur in Palestine (see Strand, Flor. Palaest. Nos. 124, 125). Dioscorides (Comm. 1, 119) thus speaks of the ῥάμνος : "The rhamnus, which some call persephonion, others leucacantha, the Romans white-thorn, or cerbalis, and the Carthaginians atadin, is a shrub which grows around hedges; it has erect branches with sharp spines, like the oxyacantha (hawthorn ?), but with small, oblong, thick, soft leaves." Dioscorides mentions three kinds of rhamnus, two of which are identified by Sprengel, in his Commentary, with the two species of Lycium mentioned above. In his Hist. Rei Herb., however, he refers the ῥάμνος to the Zizyphus vulgaris. See Belon, Observalions de Plus. Sing. etc., II, 78; Rauwolf, Travels, III, 8; Alpinus, De Plant. Egypt. p. 21; Celsius, Hierob. 1, 199.
Lycium Europceum is a native of the south of Europe and the north of Africa; in the Grecian islands it is common in hedges (English Cyclop. s. "Lycium;" see also the passages in Belon and Rauwolf cited above).
3. BARKIN (בִּרקָן, only in the plur.; Sept. Βαρκα νίμ) occurs in Jg 8:7,16, where Gideon is described as saying, "Then I will tear your flesh with the thorns (kozim) of the wilderness, and with briers (bartkanim)." There is no reason for believing that briers, as applied to a rose or bramble, is the correct meaning; but there is nothing to lead us to select any one preferably from among the numerous thorny and prickly plants of Syria as the backanita of Scripture. Rosenmüller, however, says that this word signifies "a flail," and has no reference to thorny plants. It probably denotes the sharp stones set in the bottom of the Oriental threshing-sledge. See BRIER.
4. BATOS (ἡ Βάτος, "bramble bush," Lu 6:44; elsewhere simply "bush"). See Seneh, below.
5. BOSHAH (בָּאשָׁה, literally stink-weed, from בָּאִשׁ, to stink, hence to be worthless; Sept. βάτος; Vulg. spina, and so the Targ., Syr., and Arab.; A.V. "cockle" ) is the name of a plant or weed of a worthless or noxious kind (Job 31:40). From the connection in which it is introduced, it is probable that some particular and well-known herb is intended; it answers to "thorns" (chodch) in the parallel member. Fürst pronounces it a useless, noxious, and spinose herb of the cockle or darnel species. Celsius (Hierob. 2, 201) makes it a poisonous plant, the bish of the Arabic writers, a species -of aconite. Lee (Lex. s.v.) suggests hemlock as the probable synonym. Zunz gives lolch, and Renan (Livre de Job, ad loc.) 4.raie. Tristram remarks (Nat. Hist. of the, Bible, p. 439), "There is a shrub which attacks corn, and has a putrid smell (Uredo fretida). Some of the arumns of the corn plains have an intolerably fetid stench, and may well suit the derivation of the word. The stinking arums are common in Galilee." SEE COCKLE.
6. CHARCL (חָרוּל, from an obsolete root חרל, which Gesenius thinks- חָרִר, to burn; but Fürst thinks= חָרִד, in the sense of pricking, and he compares the Phoenician חִרדֶּן χερδάν, Dioscor. 3, 21; also the vulgar Heb. חִרדֶּל, mustard, from its smarting taste), a prickly shrub (A. V. "nettles," Job 30:7; Pr 24:31; Zep 2:9), perhaps a kind of thistle. Tristram remarks (Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 475), "The chartul would appear to be different from the ordinary nettle, since in Pr 24:31 it is mentioned along with it. It cannot be a shrub like the Zizyphus or the Paliurus, because it is evidently spoken of by Solomon as a plant of quick growth in the corn-fields. It must have been of some size, from the passage in Job, where the outcasts shelter under it. I am inclined to believe that it designates the prickly acatnthus (Acanthus spinosa), a very common and troublesome weed in the plains of Palestine and equally abundant among ruins. We have often seen it in the plain of Esdraelon choking the corn, and reaching to the height of six feet. Its sting is most irritating and unpleasant, and well supports the derivation of the Heb. word, 'that which burns." SEE NETTLE.
7. CHEDEK (חֵדֶק; Sept. ἄκανθα, σὴς ἐκτρώγων; Vulg. spina, paliurus) occurs in Pr 15:19, "The way of the slothful is as a hedge of chedek (A.V. thorns)," and in Mic 7:4, where the A. V. has brier." The Alexand. MS., in the former passage, interprets the meaning thus, "The ways of the slothful are strewed with thorns." Celsius (Hierob. 2, 35), referring the Heb. term to the Arabic chadak, is of opinion that some spinous species of the solanum is intended. The Arabic term clearly denotes some species of this genus, either the S. melongela, var. esculentum, or the S. Sodomeum ("apple of Sodom" ). SEE VINE OF SODOM. Both these kinds are beset with prickles, and some species of solanum grow to a considerable size. They are very common in dry arid situations, S. sanctum, the S. spinosum of others, is found in Palestine. Dr. Harris is of opinion that chedek is the Colutea spinosav of Forskal, which is called heddad in Arabic, and of which there is an engraving in Russell's Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, tab. 5. SEE BRIER.
8. CHOACH (חוֹחִ; Sept. ἄκαν, ἄκανθα, ἀκχούχ, κνίδη ; Vulg. paliurus, lappa, spina, tribulus), a word of very uncertain meaning which occurs in the sense of some thorny plant, is rendered "thickets" in 1Sa 13:6; "brambles" in Isa 34:13; but usually either thistle," as in 2Ki 14:9; 2Ch 25:18 (in both which passages it is spoken of as growing on Lebanon); Job 21:34 ("Let thistles grow instead of wheat," which shows that it was some rapidly maturing plant); or "thorns." as in 2Ch 33:11; Job 41:2 (which shows it had a hard spine); Pr 26:9; Song 2; Song 2; Ho 9:6. Celsius (Hierob. 1, 477) believes, from the similarity of the Arabic khosh, that the blackthorn (Prunus sylvestris) is denoted; but this would not suit the passage in Job, as it is a slow-growing tree. Perhaps the term is used in a wide sense to signify any thorny plant of quick growth in some fields and meadows. There are two classes of thorny weeds which choke the corn- fields of Palestine, the thistles and the centaureas or knapweeds. These last are chiefly of two kinds, both commonly called star-thistle, namely, the Centaurea calcitrapa, which is the most frequent and troublesome intruder in both cultivated and neglected fields in Palestine, and the C. verutum, which is even more formidable. SEE THISTLE.
9. DARDIR (דִּרַדִּר) occurs in Ge 3:18, "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;" and again in Ho 10:8, in both of which passages dardir is conjoined with kots. The rabbins describe it as a thorny plant which they also call accobita. The akkilb of the Arabs is a thistle 'or wild artichoke. The Sept. and Vulg., however, render dardir by the word τρίβολος, tribulus, a caltrop, in both passages, and this will answer as well as any other thorny or prickly plant. See Tribolos, below.
10. KIMOSH (קַרמוֹשׁ) or kimmosh (קַמַּוֹשׁ) occurs in Isa 34:13; Ho 9:6, in both which passages it is spoken of as occupying deserted and ruined sites, and is translated "nettles." Another form of the word, kimashon (קַמָּשׁוֹן), occurs in Pr 24:31, where it is used in connection with charuil as descriptive of the neglected field of the sluggard, and is translated "thorns." "All commentators agree that this is the sting-nettle (urtica), of which there are several varieties in Palestine. The most common is Urtica pilulifera, a tall and vigorous plant, often six feet high, the sting of which is much moresevere and irritating than our common nettle. It particularly affects old ruins, as near Tell Hum, Beisan, and the ruined khan by the bridge over the Jordan; and forms a most annoying obstacle to the explorer who wishes to investigate old remains" (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 474). The ordinary nettle is a well- known wild plant, the leaves of which are armed with stings, connected with a small bag of poison; and when the leaves are slightly pressed by the hand, the stings penetrate the flesh, force in the poison, and pro duce a swelling with a sharp burning pain. The leaf, when wet or dead, does not possess this power. The presence of nettles betokens a waste and neglected soil. SEE NETTLE.
11. KOTS (קוֹוֹ) occurs in several passages of Scripture (Ex 22:6; Jg 8:7,16; 2Sa 23:6; Ps 118:12: Isa 32:13; Isa 33:12; Jer 4:3; Jer 12:13; Eze 28:24; A.V. invariably "thorns" ); in two (Ge 3:18; Ho 10:8) it is mentioned along with dardir, where the two words may be considered equivalent, respectively, to the English thorns and thistles. The Sept. translates it in all the passages by ἄκανθα, and it probably was used in a general sense to denote plants which were thorny, useless, and indicative of neglected culture or deserted habitations, growing naturally in desert situations, and useful only for fuel. But if any particular plant be meant, the Ononis spinosa, or "rest-harrow," mentioned by Hasselquist (p. 289), may be selected as fully characteristic: "Spinosissima illa et perniciosa planta, campos integros tegitJEgypti et Palestinae. Non dubutandum quinl hanc indicaverint in aliquo loco scriptores sacri."
12. NAATSUTS (נִעֲצוּוֹ) occurs only in two passages of Isaiah, in both of which it is translated "thorn" in the A.V. Thus (Isa 7:18-19), "Jehovah shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria; and they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all the thorns" (naatsutsim; Sept. ῥαγάς; Vulg.frutetumn). By. some this has been translated crevices; but that it is a plant of some kind is evident from 55:13: "Instead of the thorn (naatsiuts; Sept. στοιβή; Vulg. saliunca) shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree." Some have understood it generally as thorn, shrub, thorny shrub, small tree, or thicket. Others have attempted to define it specifically, rendering it bramble, white-thorn, etc. (Celsius, Hierob. 2, 190); but nothing certain has been determined respecting it. Celsius endeavors to trace it to the same origin as the Arabic niaaz, which he states to be the name of a plant of which the bark is employed in tanning leather. The meaning of the term, he continues in Chaldeeis infigere, defigere; "to stick into" or "fix," and it is therefore supposed to refer to a prickly or thorny plant, R. ben-Melech says that commentators explain naatsuts by the Arabic word sidr, which is the name of a well-known thorny bush of Eastern countries, a species of Zizyphus. This, Sprengel says, is the Z. vulgaris, found in many parts of Palestine, as well as in many of the uncultivated tracts of other Eastern countries. Others suppose the species to be the nubakl of the Arabs, which is the Zizyphus lotus, and considered to be the lotus of the ancients. But from the context it would appear that the plant, if a zizyphus, must have been a less highly esteemed variety or species. But ir a wild state these are very abundant, bushy, prickly, and of little value. Belon says, "Les hayes, pour la plus part, sont de tamarisques, oenoplia (i.e. zizyphi species) et rhamnes." In Freytag's Arabic Lexicon theabove Arabic word naaz is said to be the name of a thorny tree, common in the Hejaz, the bark of which is used in tanning hides, and from whose wood a dentifrice is prepared. This might be a species of acacia, of which many species are well known to be abundant in the dry and barren parts of Syria, Arabia, and Egypt.
13. SAARB (סָרָב) -occurs (in the plur.) only once (Eze 2:6) as a synonym of sallon, and is thought by many (the rabbins Castell, Fürst, etc.) to denote a thorny plant (A.V. "brier"), as cognate with sir; but Celsius (Hierob. 2, 222) contends that it simply means. rebels (from the Chald. סַרִב, to resist).
14. SEK (שֵׂך, literally a thorn-hedge, so called from the interlacing of the briers) occurs only once (in the plur.) as a synonym of tsin for a prickly object in general (Nu 33:55; Sept. σκόλοπες ; Vulg. clavi;A.V. "pricks" ). It occurs in the feminine plur. form sukk6th (שֻׁכּוֹת) in Job 41:7, where it is translated "barbed irons." Its resemblance to the Arabic sh6k, thorn, sufficiently indicates the probability of its meaning something of the same kind.
15. SENH -(סנֶה) occurs in the well-known passage of Ex 3:2, where the angel of the Lord appeared unto Moses in a flaming fire out of the midst of a "bush" (seneh), and the bush was not consumed. It occurs also in ver. 3 and 4, and in De 33:16, but with reference to the same event. The Sept. translates senah by βάτος, which usually signifies the rubus, or bramble; so in the New Test. βάτος is employed when referring tothe above miracle of the burning bush. Baroo is likewise used to denote the seneh by Josephus, Philo, Clemens, Eusebius, and others (see Celsius, Hierob. 2, 58). The monks of the monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai have a species of rubus planted in their garden near their Chapel of the Burning Bush; but this can-not be considered as any proof of its identity with the seneh from the little attention which they have usually paid to correctness in such points. Bove says of it, "C'est une espece de Rubus, qui est voisin de notre R. fruticosus." The species of rubus (our blackberry) are not common either in Syria or Arabia. Rubus snctus,_ the holy bramble, is found in Palestine, and is mentioned by Dr. Russell as existing in the neighborhood of Aleppo, and Hasselquist found a rubus among the ruins of Scanderetta, and another in the neighborhood of Seide. It is also found among the ruins of Petra (?) (Calcott). Celsius and others quote Hebrew authors as stating that Mount Sinai obtained its name from the abundance of these bushes (seneh), "Dictus est mons Sinai de nomine ejus." But no species of rubus seems to have been discovered in a wild state on this mountain. This was observed by Pococke. He found however, on Mount Horeb several hawthorn bushes, and says that the holy bush was more likely to have been a hawthorn than a bramble, and that this must have been the spot where the phenomenon was observed, being a sequestered place and affording excellent pasture, whereas near the Chapel of the Holy Bush not a single herb grows.. Shaw states that the Oxyacantha Arabica grows in many places on St. Catherine's Mountain. Bove says, on ascending Mount Sinai: "J'ai trouvd entre les ro chers de granit un mespilus voisin de l'oxyacantha." Dr. Robinson mentions it as called zarur, but it is evident that we cannot have anything like proof in favor of either plant. Tristram remarks (Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 438), "The seneh denotes some particular. kind of bush, and appears to be equivalent to the Egyptian senh, the Acacia Nilotica, very like the Acacia seyal, or shittah tree, but smaller and closer in growth. The A. Nilotica is common in the Peninsula of Sinai, which mountain is by some conjectured to have derived its name from the seneh bush." But as there is no etymological connection between the Arabic sunt (which is the same as shittah [q.v.]) and the seneh, and as the latter is a distinctive term, the basis of the identification of the latter with the acacia entirely fails, especially as the Sept. so constantly understands the burning bush to have been a bramble-like plant; moreover, had it been the-well-known tree that yielded the shittim wood, we can see no reason for the use of a peculiar or different term to designate it. 'It was evidently not a tree at all, but a low bush, probably one of the many species of annual thorny plants still abounding on the mountain, and which, growing. in the rainy season, remain dry and bare during the summer. Hence the surprise of Moses that the highly combustible object was not consumed. The writer was struck with the habit of his native guide on Mount Sinai, who constantly set fire to these bushes as he met them. SEE BUSH.
16. SHAMIR (שָׁמַיר) occurs in all the same passages as the next word, shdyith, below, with the addition also of Isa 32:13: "Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns (kotsim) and briers" (shamir). It is variously rendered by the Sept., χέρσος, χόρτος, δέῤῥις, ἄγρωστις, ξηρά. According to Abu'lfadl, cited by Celsius (Hierob. 2, 188), "the samtr of the Arabs is a thorny tree; it is a species of Sidra which does not produce fruit." No thorny plants are more conspicuous in Palestine. and the Bible lands than different kinds of Rhamnaceae. The Arabs have the terms Salam, Sidra, Dhal, Nabka, which appear to denote either varieties or different-species of Paliurus and Zizyphus, or different states, perhaps, of the same tree; but it is a difficult matter to assign to each its particular signification. Dr. Tristram states that "the Arabs of the Jordan valley confine the name samur to the Paliurus aculatus, or Christ's Thorn" (Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 428).
17. SHAYITH (שִׁיַת) occurs in several passages of Isaiah (Isa 5:6; Isa 7:23-25; Isa 9:18; Isa 10:17; Isa 27:4), in all of which it is associated with shamir, the two being: translated thorns and briers in the A. V. From the context of all the passages, it is evident that some weed like plants are intended, either of a thorny or prickly nature, or such as spring up in neglected cultures and are signs of desolation, and which are occasionally employed for fuel. Nothing has, however, been ascertained respecting the plant intended by shayith, and consequently it has been variously translated in the several versions of the Scriptures. Gesenius thinks it is etymologically connected with the shittah tree (i.q. שֶׁנֶת). SEE SHITTAH.
18. SILLON (סַלּוֹן) occurs in Eze 28:24: "And there shall be no more a pricking brier (sillon) unto the house of Israel, nor any grieving thorn (kots)." The Sept. here has σκόλοψ and the Vulg. offendiculum. So also SALLON (סִלּוֹן) occurs (in the plur.) in Eze 2:6: "Though briers (sarabin) and thorns (sallonim) be with thee," The Sept. and Vulg. here render both words vaguely (παροιστρήσουσι καὶ ἐπισυστήσονται, increduli et subversores). Several Arabic words resemble it in sound; as sil, signifying a kind of wormwood; silleh. the plant Zilla Myagrum; sillah, the τράγος of the Greeks, supposed to be Salsola kali and S. tragus; sulal or sulalon, which signifies the thorn of the date-tree, while the Chaldee word silleta signifies a thorn simply. It is probable, therefore, that sill6n has something of the same meaning, as also sillomin; but neither the context nor the etymology affords us a clue to the particular plant. Tristram, however states that "the Arabic word sullaon is applied to the sharp points on the ends of the palm-leaf, and also to the butcher's-broom (Ruscus aculeatus), a plant common enough in many parts of Palestine" (Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 431).
19. SIR (סיר) occurs (in the plur.) in several passages, e.g. in Ec 12:6, "as the crackling of thorns (sirim) under a pot," etc.;
Isa 34:14, "And thorns (sirim) shall come up in her palaces," etc.; Ho 11:6; Am 4:2; Na 1:10. The Sept. and other translations have employed words signifying thorns as conveying the meaning of sirim; but the etymology does not lead us to select one plant more than another.
20. SIRPID (סַרפָּד) is mentioned only once as a desert shrub (Isa 55:13), "And instead of the brier (sirpad, Sept. κονύζη, Vulg. urtica) shall come up the myrtle." Though this has generally been considered a thorny and prickly plant, it does not follow from the context that such is necessarily meant. It would be sufficient for the sense that some useless or insignificant plant be understood, and there are many such in desert and uncultivated places. In addition to Paliurus carduus, Urtica, Conyza, species of Polygonum, ofEuphorbia, etc., have been adduced; and also Ruscus aculeatus, or butcher's-broom. The etymology of the word is obscure.
21. TRIBOLOS (τρίβολος), Lat. tribilus, is found in Mt 7:16, "Do men gather figs of thistles?" (τριβόλων);and again in Heb 6:8, '"But that which beareth thorns and briers (τριβολοι) is rejected." The name was applied by the Greeks to two or three plants, one of which was, no doubt, aquatic, Trapa natans. Of the two kinds of land tribuli mentioned by the Greeks (Dioscorides, 4:15; Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. 6:7, 5), one is believed by Sprengel, Stackhouse, Royle, and others to refer to the Tribulus terrestris, Linn., the other is supposed to be the Fagonia Cretica; but see Schneider's commentary on Theophrastus, loc. cit., and Du Mo. lin (Flore Poetique Ancienne, p. 305), who identifies the tribulus of Virgil with the Centaurea calcitraapa. Linn. ("star-thistle"). Celsius (Hierob. 2, 128) argues in favor of the Faconia Arabica, of which a figure is given in Shaw, Travels (Catal. Plant. No. 229); see also Forskal, Flor. Arab. p. 88. Both or nearly allied species are found in dry and barren places in the East; and, as both are prickly and spread over the surface of the ground, they are extremely hurtful to tread upon. The word τρίβολος is further interesting to us as being employed in the Sept. as the translation of darddr (above). The presence of species of tribulus indicates a dry and barren uncultivated soil, covered with prickly or thorny plants. The Tribulus terrestris, however, is-not a spiny or thorny plant, but has spines on the fruit. The Greek word means literally three-pronged, and originally denoted the caltrop, or military crow-foot, an instrument composed of three radiating spikes, thrown upon the ground to hinder and annoy cavalry (Veget. 3, 24; Plutarch, Moral. 2, 76). SEE WEED.
22. TSEN (צֵן) or TSENIN (צנַין) occurs (only in the plur.) in several passages of Scripture, as in Nu 33:55; Jos 23:13, where it is mentioned along with sek (sikkim); also in Job 5:5 and Pr 22:5. Both are invariably rendered "thorns" in the A. V. The Sept. has τρίβολος in Pr 22:5, and βολίδες in Nu 33:55 and Jos 23:13.. It has been supposed that zinnim might be the Rhamnus paliurus, but nothing more precise has been ascertained respecting it than of so many other of these thorny plants; and we may therefore, with Michaelis, say, "Nullum simile nomen habent reliquae linguae Orientales; ergo fas est sapienti, Celsio quoque, fas sit et mihi, aliquid ignorare. Ignorantie professio via ad inveniendum rerum, si quis in Oriente quaesierit." SEE THORN-HEDGE.