One species of pine, the Aleppo pine Pinus halepensis, is indigenous to Israel. Other species of the same genus have been planted in the afforestation of modern Israel and as ornamental trees, among them the stone pine, Pinus pinea. The modern Hebrew name for the pine is oren, but this biblical name relates to a different species, the *bay tree. The Aleppo pine is one of the most beautiful forest trees of Israel. Only a few groves of it remain at the present day because it was felled for use as building material. Among the natural groves of this species is the Masrek ("comb") at Bet Meir in the Judean hills, so called because its high trunks, conspicuous on the horizon, look like a comb. The Aleppo pine was adopted as the most important forest tree of Israel, tens of thousands of acres being planted with it, because of its rapid growth, beauty, and abundant shade, as well as for its ability to grow on rocky ground. It is the eẓ shemen ("oil tree") of the Bible, as it is still called (in Aramaic) by the Jews of Kurdistan, and is so called because
The stone pine, though not indigenous to Israel, is grown as an ornamental tree and for its edible and tasty nuts. These nuts are called iẓtrubalin in the Mishnah, which states that they may not be sold to idolators on their festivals (Av. Zar. 1:5). They are liable to tithes (TJ, Ma'as. 1:2, 48d). In the view of *Saadiah Gaon the stone pine is the tirzah (JPS ilex; A.V. cypress) of Isaiah 44:14, mentioned as being used both for making idols and for firewood.
Loew, Flora, 3 (1924), 40–47; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 88–92. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 31, 113.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.