Two species of jujube grow wild in Israel: the wild jujube (Zizyphus spina-Christi) and the lotus jujube (Zizyphus lotus). The former is a tall tropical tree with dense, prickly branches (from which, according to Christian tradition, Jesus' crown of thorns was made, hence its scientific name), growing in the hot regions of Israel. The latter is a prickly desert bush, bearing small floury fruit; it grows wild in North Africa where the people make bread from it. These are "the lotus eaters" mentioned by Herodotus (Historiae, 4:177). Also growing in Israel is the cultivated jujube (Zizyphus vulgaris) which produces a large fruit with an excellent flavor. This is the sheizaf of rabbinic literature which is commonly grafted on to the wild jujube, called rimin, the two species being counted as diverse kinds (kilayim) according to halakhah (Kil. 1:4). The fruits of the wild jujube are tasty but were not highly thought of (cf. Dem. 1.1). This tree, widespread in the wadis of the Arabah and the Jordan Valley, is identified with the ze'elim (lotus trees, AV "shady trees") of Job 40:21–22 under which the behemoth lies near the banks of the Jordan. Near Ein Hazevah in the Arabah grows a huge wild jujube which is counted among the oldest trees in Israel.
Loew, Flora, 3 (1924), 133–41; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), 248f.; J. Feliks, Kilei Zera'imve-Harkavah (1967), 103–5. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 152, 160.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.