JUNIPER


The juniper is the biblical berosh (Heb. בְּרוֹשׁ) or berot (Heb. בְּרוֹת; Song 1:17), wrongly used in modern Hebrew for the *cypress (the AV translation of rotem as juniper is not acceptable). Beroshim are frequently mentioned in the Bible, chiefly together with the cedar of Lebanon. It is a tall evergreen tree (Hos. 14:9), smaller than the cedar (Ezek. 31:8) but, like it, symbolizing strength and high stature (II Kings 19:23). It grows in the Lebanon (ibid.; Isa. 14:8) and on Mt. Senir, which is Hermon (Ezek. 27:5). In ancient times its choice wood, like that of the cedar, was the most important source of timber for building in the Near East (cf. Isa. 14:8). Junipers were sent by Hiram, king of Tyre, for the building of the Temple (I Kings 5:22), whose flooring, walls, and doors were faced with them (ibid. 6:15). From its wood the ships of Tyre were built (Ezek. 27:5). In his vision of the blossoming desert, Isaiah (41:19; 55:13) prophesied that the juniper would one day grow in the wilderness. The Semitic name berosh or berot occurs in Greek (βράθυ) and in Latin (bratus) as a species of lofty juniper. In the hills of Lebanon and of Hermon two species of juniper (Juniperus drupacea and Juniperus excelsa) grow wild and are called by the Arabs berota. Both are upright trees, up to 65 feet (20 m.) high, evergreens, whose tiny leaves are like splinters. The wood is hard and very fragrant (the "fragrance as Lebanon" (Hos. 14:7) refers to the juniper and the cypress). The Septuagint identified the biblical berosh with the cypress, and from there the usage passed into modern Hebrew. This identification is not acceptable, however, because the cypress does not grow wild in the hills of Lebanon and Hermon in the neighborhood of the cedar, as described in the Bible. The biblical name for the cypress is te'ashur or gofer. Nor can the juniper be identified with the arar ba-aravah (AV "the heath in the desert"; Jer. 17:6), since this cannot refer to the juniper growing in the Lebanon. The species Juniperus oxycedros grows in Upper Galilee and Juniperus phoenicea in the desert regions of Edom and Sinai, but it cannot be supposed that Jeremiah was referring to these distant trees. The arar is to be identified with the *tamarisk.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Loew, Flora, 3 (1924), 15, 33–38; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 79–83. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 40.

[Jehuda Feliks]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.