( Isaiah 41:19 ; Nehemiah 8:15 ; Zechariah 1:8 ), Hebrew hadas, known in the East by the name as , the Myrtus communis of the botanist. "Although no myrtles are now found on the mount (of Olives), excepting in the gardens, yet they still exist in many of the glens about Jerusalem, where we have often seen its dark shining leaves and white flowers. There are many near Bethlehem and about Hebron, especially near Dewir Dan, the ancient Debir. It also sheds its fragrance on the sides of Carmel and of Tabor, and fringes the clefts of the Leontes in its course through Galilee. We meet with it all through Central Palestine" (Tristram).
a plant mentioned in ( Nehemiah 8:15 ; Isaiah 41:19 ; 55:13 ; Zechariah 1:8 Zechariah 1:10 Zechariah 1:11 ) The modern Jews still adorn with myrtle the booths and sheds at the feast of tabernacles. Formerly, as we learn from Nehemiah, ( Nehemiah 8:15 ) myrtles grew on the hills about Jerusalem. "On Olivet." says Dean Stanley, "nothing is now to be seen but the olive and the fig tree:" on some of the hills near Jerusalem, however, Hasselquist observed the myrtle. Dr. Hooker says it is not uncommon in Samaria and Galilee. The Myrtus communis is the kind denoted by the Hebrew word. (It is a shrub or low tree sometimes ten feet high, with green shining leaves, and snow-white flowers bordered with purple, "which emit a perfume more exquisite than that of the rose." The seeds of the myrtle, dried before they are ripe, form our allspice. --ED.)
The myrtle, Myrtus communis (Natural Order Myrtaceae), is a very common indigenous shrub all over Palestine. On the bare hillsides it is a low bush, but under favorable conditions of moisture it attains a considerable height (compare Zechariah 1:8,10). It has dark green, scented leaves, delicate starry white flowers and dark-colored berries, which are eaten. In ancient times it was sacred to Astarte. It is mentioned as one of the choice plants of the land (Isaiah 41:19). "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree" (Isaiah 55:13), is one of the prophetic pictures of God's promised blessings. It was one of the trees used in the Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:15): "the branches of thick trees" (which see) are interpreted in the Talmud (Cuk. 3 4; Yer Cuk. 3, 53rd) as myrtle boughs; also (id) the "thick trees" of Nehemiah 8:15 as "wild myrtle." Myrtle twigs, particularly those of the broadleaved variety, together with a palm branch and twigs of willow, are still used in the ritual of the Feast of Tabernacles. For many references to myrtle in Jewish writings see Jewish Encyclopedia, IX, 137.
E. W. G. Masterman
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