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TARES (Heb. זוּנִים, zunim), the darnel – Lolium temulentum, weed which grows among grain, particularly wheat. The grains resemble those of wheat so that it is very difficult to separate them by sifting, and as a result they are sown together with the wheat and grow with it in the field. Darnel flour is poisonous and gives a bitter taste to bread in which it has been mixed. The tares do no harm to birds, especially to doves (TJ, Kil. 1:1, 26d). Nobody would consciously sow tares in his field. Hence the parable in the New Testament about the peasant "who sowed good seed in his fields… and his enemy came and sowed tares in the midst of the wheat" (Matt. 13:24–30). According to the halakhah wheat and tares do not constitute *kilayim with one another (Kil. 1:1). The Jerusalem Talmud (ibid.) quotes a view that tares are called zunim because as a result of them the wheat mezannot ("commit[s] adultery"), i.e., it changes its characteristics and is turned into tares. This view had already been propounded by Galen (De Alimentis, 1:27), but Basilius argued with him: "Tares and other wild weeds are not formed by cultivated species changing into wild species" (Hexameron 5:5a). It has been demonstrated that by a thorough separation of the darnel seeds from the wheat seeds tares do not grow.


Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 723–9; B. Cizik, Oẓar ha-Ẓemaḥim (1952), 802–3; J. Feliks, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 22–23.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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