GOURD (Heb. דְּלַעַת; pl. דְּלוּעִים), a plant. It occurs in the Bible only in the form of a place-name Dilan, a town in the inheritance of Judah (Josh. 15:38), but it is frequently mentioned in talmudic literature. In modern Hebrew the word is applied to the gourd of the genus Cucurbita, now grown extensively in Israel, but since this genus originates in America the word undoubtedly designated some other plant in ancient times. From its many descriptions in talmudic literature, the reference is clearly to the calabash gourd (Lagenaria vulgaris), then a most important crop in Ereẓ Israel. Its large fruit, usually shaped like a broad-bellied bottle, was used as a vegetable when soft and when hard its shell was used as a container for liquid and food (Kil. 7:1). Vessels made from the fruit have been found in ancient Egyptian graves. Talmudic literature has many descriptions of the gourd. Its extremely smooth skin gave rise to the expression "he shaves himself as smooth as a gourd" (Sot. 16a). Various dishes were prepared from the soft fruit (Shev. 2:10), but its dried seeds are not fit for eating (tj, Shev. 2:10, 34a). The plant has leaves which are very large and hard, and which could be written on in an emergency (Tosef., Git. 2:3); it has tendrils by which it climbs any support (tj, Er. 1:1, 18b). Various strains of the gourd were grown, among which the Mishnah mentions the Syrian, Egyptian, Remuẓian, and Greek gourds (Kil. 1:5; Ned. 51a). Of these the last strain was the most important and so vigorous that one plant could cover an entire field (Kil. 3:7). Also used in the Talmud to designate the gourd, kara, apparently an Aramaic word, is included among the food eaten on the New Year (Ker. 6a). (For the correct meaning of kikayon in Jonah 4:6 et al. (av, jps "gourd") see *castor plant.)
Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 542–8; J. Feliks, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 66–71.
gourd / gôrd/ • n. 1. a fleshy, typically large fruit with a hard skin, some varieties of which are edible. ∎ a container or ornament made from the hollowed and dried skin of this fruit. 2. a climbing or trailing plant that bears this fruit. The gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) also includes the squashes, pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers. PHRASES: out of one's gourd inf. out of one's mind; crazy.DERIVATIVES: gourd·ful / -ˌfoŏl/ n. (pl. -fuls) .