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Gall

Gall [N] [S]

(1) Heb. mererah, meaning "bitterness" ( Job 16:13 ); i.e., the bile secreted in the liver. This word is also used of the poison of asps ( 20:14 ), and of the vitals, the seat of life (25).

  • Heb. rosh. In Deuteronomy 32:33 and Job 20:16 it denotes the poison of serpents. In Hosea 10:4 the Hebrew word is rendered "hemlock." The original probably denotes some bitter, poisonous plant, most probably the poppy, which grows up quickly, and is therefore coupled with wormwood ( Deuteronomy 29:18 ; Jeremiah 9:15 ; Lamentations 3:19 ). Compare Jeremiah 8:14 ; 23:15 , "water of gall," Gesenius, "poppy juice;" others, "water of hemlock," "bitter water."

  • Gr. chole ( Matthew 27:34 ), the LXX. translation of the Hebrew rosh in Psalms 69 ; 21 , which foretells our Lord's sufferings. The drink offered to our Lord was vinegar (made of light wine rendered acid, the common drink of Roman soldiers) "mingled with gall," or, according to ( Mark 15:23 ), "mingled with myrrh;" both expressions meaning the same thing, namely, that the vinegar was made bitter by the infusion of wormwood or some other bitter substance, usually given, according to a merciful custom, as an anodyne to those who were crucified, to render them insensible to pain. Our Lord, knowing this, refuses to drink it. He would take nothing to cloud his faculties or blunt the pain of dying. He chooses to suffer every element of woe in the bitter cup of agony given him by the Father ( John 18:11 ).

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Gall". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

  • Gall. [N] [E]

    1. Mereerah , denoting "that which is bitter;" hence the term is applied to the "bile" or "gall" (the fluid secreted by the liver), from its intense bitterness, ( Job 16:13 ; 20:25 ) it is also used of the "poison" of serpents, ( Job 20:14 ) which the ancients erroneously believed was their gall.
    2. Rosh , generally translated "gall" in the English Bible, is in ( Hosea 10:4 ) rendered "hemlock:" in ( 32:33 ) and Job 20:16 rosh denotes the "poison" or "venom" of serpents. From ( 29:18 ) and Lame 3:19 compared with Hose 10:4 it is evident that the Hebrew term denotes some bitter and perhaps poisonous plant. Other writers have supposed, and with some reason, from ( 32:32 ) that some berry-bearing plant must be intended. Gesenius understands poppies; in which case the gall mingled with the wine offered to our Lord at his crucifixion, and refused by him, would be an anaesthetic, and tend to diminish the sense of suffering. Dr. Richardson, "Ten Lectures on Alcohol," p. 23, thinks these drinks were given to the crucified to diminish the suffering through their intoxicating effects.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Gall'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

    GALL

    gol:

    (1) ro'sh, or rosh (Deuteronomy 32:32 only, "grapes of gall"):

    Some very bitter plant, the bitterness as in (2) being associated with the idea of poison. Deuteronomy 29:18 margin "rosh, a poisonpus herb"; Lamentations 3:5,19; Jeremiah 8:14; 9:15; 23:15, "water of gall," margin "poison"; Hosea 10:4, translated "hemlock"; Amos 6:12, "Ye have turned justice into gall"; Job 20:16, the "poison of asps":

    here rosh clearly refers to a different substance from the other references, the points in common being bitterness and poisonous properties. Hemlock (Conium maculatum), colocynth (Citrullus colocynthus) and the poppy (Papaver somniferum) have all been suggested as the original rosh, the last having most support, but in most references the word may represent any bitter poisonous substance. Rosh is associated with la`anah, "wormwood" (Deuteronomy 29:18; Lamentations 3:19; Amos 6:12).

    (2) mererah (Job 16:13), and merorah (Job 20:14,25), both derived from a root meaning "to be bitter," are applied to the human gall or "bile," but like (1), merorah is once applied to the venom of serpents (Job 20:14). The poison of these animals was supposed to reside in their bile.

    (3) chole (Matthew 27:34), "They gave him wine to drink mingled with gall"; this is clearly a reference to the Septuagint version of Psalms 69:21:

    "They gave me also gall (chole, Hebrew rosh) for my food; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." In Mark 15:23, it says, "wine mingled with myrrh." It is well known that the Romans gave wine with frankincense to criminals before their execution to alleviate their sufferings; here the chole or bitter substance used was myrrh (Pliny Ep. xx.18; Sen. Ep. 83).

    E. W. G. Masterman


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'GALL'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.