Thyine Wood

Thy'ine Wood

(ξύλον θύϊνον ; Vulg. lignum thyinum) occurs once in Re 18:12 (margin "sweet" [wood]), where it is mentioned as one of the valuable articles of commerce that should be found no more in Babylon (Rome), whose fall is there predicted by John. Symmachus and the Vulg. also understand it to be meant by the algum-trees of 1Ki 10:11. There can be little doubt that the wood here spoken of is that of the Thuya articulata, Des Font., the Callitris quadrivalvis of present botanists. Most of our readers are familiar with the "arbor vite," Thuja occidentalis, so common in our shrubberies. Closely allied to this in the same cypress-like division of the Coniferae; indeed, until lately included in the genus Thuja-is the tree in question. This wood was in considerable demand by the Romans, being much employed by them in the ornamental wood-work of their villas, and also for tables, bowls, and vessels of different kinds. It was also fragrant (Elian, Var. Hist. 5, 6). It is. noticed by most ancient authors from the time of Theophrastus (Plait. 5, 5; see Elian, Animn. 2, 11; Strabo, 4:202). It was the citron-wood of the Romans; thus Salmasius, θύα Theophrasti est illa citrus, quse citreas mensas dabat Romahis inter lautissima opera" (Celsius, Hierobot. 2, 25). It was produced only in Africa, in the neighborhood of Mount Atlasi and in Granada, "citrum, arborem Africae peculiarem esse, nec alibi nasci." It grew to a goodly size, "quarum amplitudo ac radices aestimari possunt ex orbibus" (Pliny, Hist. Nat. 13:15). Fabulous prices were given for tables and other ornamental furniture made of citrus-wood (see Pliny, loc. cit.).

This cedar or citron-wood (Callitris quadrivalvis, the Thuja articulata of Linnaeus) is a native of Mount Atlas, and of other uncultivated hills on the coast of Africa. It grows to a height of from fifteen to twenty-five feet. In the kingdom of Morocco, according to Broussouel, this tree produces the Sandarach resin of commerce. Captain Cook, in his Sketches in Spain (vol. 2), brought to light the fact that the wood-work of the roof of the celebrated mosque now the Cathedral of Cordova built in the 9th century is of this wood; it had previously been thought to be that of the larch, from the resemblance of the Spanish word alerce, which is applied to the wood of Callitris quadrivalvis in Spain and Barbary, to the Latin word larix. "By a singular coincidence, the subject has been undergoing investigation about the same time in Africa. Mr. Hay, the British consul at Tangiers, had, by tracing the Arabic etymology of the word alerce (no doubt alarz or eres), by availing himself of the botanical researches of the Danish consul in Morocco, and by collating the accounts of the resident Moors, made out that the alerce was the Thuja articulata which grows on Mount Atlas. In corroboration of his views, a plank of its timber was sent to London. This plank, which is in possession of the Horticultural Society, is one foot eight inches in width. The Cordova wood is highly balsamic and odoriferous, the resin, no doubt preventing the ravages of insects as well as the influence of the air" (Loudon, Arboret. 4:2463). The wood is dark nut-brown, close grained, and is very fragrant (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 402). Lady Calcott (Script. Herbal, p. 2) regards it as the almug (q.v.) of the Old Test. SEE BOTANY.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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