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3957Herbs and history

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  • robyne chamberlain
    Jul 4, 2003
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      I am attaching an email that came to me on my lavender
      list.... and thought maybe someone on this list might
      have some information.

      To: Lavandula@yahoogroups.com
      From: "John MacGregor" <jonivy@...> |
      Date: Fri, 04 Jul 2003 13:58:48 -0700
      Subject: Re: [Lavandula] Experts on lavender in Old
      on 7/4/03 9:44 AM, Susan Robins at
      smr@... wrote:

      > I had a caller who is writing a novel that takes
      place during the time of
      > the Old Testament, and would like e-mail contact
      with lavender historians.

      Way back in 1874, J. Smith speculated that the
      reference to spices ("roshay
      besamim") in Song of Solomon 5:1 might suggest that
      Solomon "had in his
      gardens at Etham all kinds of sweet-smelling plants
      common to Palaestine, as
      also those of South Europe, such as lavender,
      rosemary, sage, thyme, savory,
      marjoram, etc." [Quoted by Molden & Moldenke, p. 52].
      But this is a very
      Eurocentric idea of someone with very little knowledge
      of the botany of the
      Holy Land.

      The sweet-smelling lavenders we know--especially
      Lavandula angustifolia and
      L. latifolia and their hybrids--are native to the
      mountains of southern
      Europe., and it is highly unlikely that they had
      reached the Holy Land by
      the eighth century B. C.

      Michael Zohary (p. 35) notes that (unspecified)
      "species of lavender
      (Lavendula) [sic.]"... are among the "many tropical
      annuals and perennials
      that grow in wadi beds, rock crevices , and other
      sites" of the Jordan and
      Aravah Valleys. But the fragrance of the species
      native to the region (L.
      stoechas, L. coronopifolia, L. pubescens, etc.) have
      "medicinal" aromas that
      could hardly be compared with the "sweet" spices like
      frankincense, myrrh, spikenard, and the other incense
      fragrances commonly
      used in Biblical times.

      I can find not one single modern authority that
      suggests any word in the Old
      Testament refers to any kind of lavender.

      It is my opinion that any reference to "lavender" in a
      novel set in Old
      Testament times would be a blatant anachronism.

      John MacGregor, List Owner
      South Pasadena, CA 91030 USA
      USDA zone 9 Sunset zones 21/23

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