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MULBERRY

MULBERRY (Heb. תּוּת, tut). Two species of mulberry grow in Israel: the black, Morus nigra, and the white, Morus alba. The latter is a comparative newcomer to the region, the ancient sources referring only to the former. The mulberry seems to have originated in Persia, from where it was transferred to the Middle East. There is evidence that it was growing in Greece in the sixth century b.c.e. In Aramaic literature it is first mentioned in the Book of *Ahikar, which was discovered among *Elephantine papyri, where it says: "My son, be not in a hurry, like the almond tree whose blossom is the first to appear, but whose fruit is the last to be eaten; but be equal and sensible, like the mulberry tree whose blossom is the last to appear, but whose fruit is the first to be eaten" (Ahikar, Syriac Version A, 2:7). According to the Talmud the fruit of the mulberry ripens 52 days after the flowering (Bek. 8a). In i Maccabees 6:34 it is related that the elephants brought by the Syrians were incited to battle with the juice of grapes and mulberries. The staining of the hands by the juice is referred to by the rabbis in their parable of the dialogue between God and Cain, who pleaded "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. 4:9): "This may be compared to one who stole mulberries and, on being caught by the owner, pleaded his innocence. The owner replied: 'But your hands are stained.' Thus said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Cain: 'Thy brother's blood crieth unto Me'" (Gen. R. 22: 9). The mulberry initially is white, then reddens and finally becomes black (see Ma'as. 1:2). It is a large, long-living tree. Until a generation ago, an old mulberry tree used to be shown in Jerusalem near the Pool of Siloam about which there was a legend (mentioned in a travel book of 1575) that Isaiah hid in the hollow of its trunk when pursued by Manasseh. Apparently the town Bertotha (Or. 1:4; et al.) takes its name from the mulberry. The white mulberry, the leaves of which are used for feeding silkworms, originated in China and was brought to Ereẓ Israel at a late date. Joseph *Nasi planted extensive orchards of them in Tiberias in 1565 with the intention of developing a silk industry. This venture, however, failed. Another effort was made in Petaḥ Tikvah by the Ḥovevei Zion, who in 1891 planted 576 dunams (144 acres) with mulberry trees, but this venture also failed. Nowadays the tree is grown in gardens for its beauty and for the shade it gives. There is no basis for the Authorized Version's rendering of bekha'im in ii Samuel 5:23 and i Chronicles 14:14, as mulberry trees (see *Mastic).

bibliography:

Joseph ha-Kohen, Emek ha-Bakha (1852), 129; Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 266–74; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), 140f.; M. Zohary, Olam ha-Ẓemaḥim (1954), 192f. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 169.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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mul·ber·ry / ˈməlˌberē/ • n. 1. (also mulberry tree or bush) a small deciduous tree (genus Morus, family Moraceae) with broad leaves, native to the Far East and long cultivated elsewhere. ∎  the dark red or white loganberrylike fruit of this tree. 2. a dark red or purple color.

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mulberry XIV. OE. mōrberie, *mūrberie (cf. mūrbēam mulberry tree), ME. murberie (XIII), corr. to Du. moerbezie, OHG. mōr-, mūrberi (MHG. mūlber, G. maulbeere); f. *mōr — L. mōrum mulberry, mōrus mulberry-tree + BERRY.

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mulberry Dark purple‐red fruit of the tree Morus nigra, slightly sweet and acid, similar in shape and size to a raspberry or loganberry. There is also a white mulberry, M. alba. Of little commercial importance as a fruit; the leaves of the mulberry are the only food plant of the silk‐worm.

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mulberry Any member of the genus Morus, trees and shrubs that grow in tropical and temperate regions. They have simple leaves, and the male flowers are catkins, while the female flowers are borne in spikes. Several species are cultivated for their fleshy, edible fruits.

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mulberry See MORUS.

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