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Bitter Herbs

BITTER HERBS

hurbs, or urbs (merorim):

Originally in the primitive Passover (Exodus 12:8; Numbers 9:11) these were probably merely salads, the simplest and quickest prepared form of vegetable accompaniment to the roasted lamb. Such salads have always been favorites in the Orient. Cucumbers, lettuce, water-cress, parsley and endive are some of those commonly used. Later on the Passover ritual (as it does today) laid emphasis on the idea of "bitterness" as symbolical of Israel's lot in Egypt. In modern Palestine the Jews use chiefly lettuce and endive for the "bitter herbs" of their Passover. In Lamentations 3:15 the same word is used: "He hath filled me with bitterness merorim, he hath sated me with wormwood." Here the parallelism with "wormwood" suggests some plant more distinctly bitter than the mild salads mentioned above, such, for example, as the colocynth (Citrullus colocynthus) or the violently irritating squirting cucumber (Ecballium elaterium).

E. W. G. Masterman


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These files are public domain.

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