Heb. libneh, "white", ( Genesis 30:37 ; Hosea 4:13 ), in all probability the storax tree (Styrax officinalis) or white poplar, distinguished by its white blossoms and pale leaves. It is common in the Anti-Libanus. Other species of the poplar are found in Palestine, such as the white poplar (P. alba) of our own country, the black poplar (P. nigra), and the aspen (P. tremula). (See WILLOW .)
This is the rendering of the Hebrew word libneh , which occurs in ( Genesis 30:37 ) and Hose 4:13 Several authorities are in favor of the rendering of the Authorized Version and think that "white poplar" (Populus alba ) is the tree denoted: others understand the "storax tree" (Styrax officinale , Linn.). Both poplars and storax or styrax trees are common in Palestine, and either would suit the passages where the Hebrew term occurs. Storax is mentioned in Ecclus. 24:15, together with other aromatic substances. The Styrax officinale is a shrub from nine to twelve feet high, with ovate leaves, which are white underneath; the flowers are in racemes, and are white or cream-colored.
pop'-lar (libhneh, "whiteness"; sturakinos, "storax" (Genesis 30:37), leuke, "poplar" (Hosea 4:13) (libhneh is so similar to the Arabic libna, the storax, that the latter certainly has the first claim to be the true translation)):
"Jacob took him rods of fresh poplar," margin "storax tree" (Genesis 30:37). "They .... burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and terebinths, because the shadow thereof is good" (Hosea 4:13). In the latter reference the conjunction of the shrub, storax, with two great trees like the oak and terebinth--even though they all grow in the mountains--is strange. The storax cannot give a shade comparable with these trees. Had we other evidence of the storax being a sacred tree among the Hebrews, it might explain the difficulty.
The storax, Styrax officinalis (Natural Order Styraceae), is a very common shrub in Palestine which occasionally attains the height of 20 feet. The under surfaces of its oval leaves are covered with whitish hairs, and it has many beautiful pure-white flowers like orange blossoms--hence, its name "whiteness."
The poplar, the traditional translation in Hosea 4:13, flourishes in many parts of Palestine. The white poplar, Populus alba, Arabic Haur, is common everywhere; Euphratica occurs especially in the Jordan valley; the black poplar, P. nigra, and the Lombardy poplar, P. pyramidalis--probably an importation--are both plentiful in the plain of Coele-Syria, around Damascus and along the river banks of Syria.
E. W. G. Masterman
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