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terebinth

terebinth (tĕr´əbĬnth) or turpentine tree, small deciduous tree (Pistacia terebinthus) of the family Anacardiaceae (sumac family), native to the Mediterranean region. It yielded probably the earliest-known form of turpentine, said to have been used in medicine by the ancient Greeks. The yield of the terebinth is now called Chian, Scio, or Cyprian turpentine. The terebinth is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Sapindales, family Anacardiaceae.

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terebinth

ter·e·binth / ˈterəˌbin[unvoicedth]/ • n. a small southern European tree (Pistacia terebinthus) of the cashew family that was formerly a source of turpentine.

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terebinth

terebinth tree Pistacia terebinthus, the source of turpentine. XIV. — OF. t(h)erebinte (mod. térébinthe) or its source L. terebinthus — Gr. terébinthos.

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Terebinth

TEREBINTH

TEREBINTH , a tree of the genus Pistacia of which four species grow in Israel (for two of them see *Mastic (Lentisk) and *Pistachio). Most important of them are Pistacia atlantica and Pistacia palaestina, which are among the largest and most widespread forest trees of Israel. Their biblical name, elah – like allon, the *oak – is derived from el, meaning strong and sturdy. Certain terebinths are singled out for special mention in the Bible because of events associated with them. Jacob buried the idols of Laban's house "under the terebinth which was by Shechem" (Gen. 35:4); the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon under a terebinth (Judg. 6:11); and the bodies of Saul and his sons were buried beneath one (i Chron. 10:12; in i Sam. 31:13 the reading is eshel, *tamarisk). The vale of Elah (i Sam. 17:2), where David slew Goliath, was so called because of the terebinths which grew in the district. These beautiful tall trees also served as sites of idol worship and are mentioned deprecatingly in Hosea (4:13), Isaiah (1:29), and Ezekiel (6:13). The word elah also occurs in the Bible as a personal name, and it is possible that the word elon also refers to the terebinth (though some identify it with the oak). The elah referred to in Scripture as a tall tree is the Pistacia atlantica, which develops a tall trunk and widespread foliage and branches; it was by those branches that Absalom was caught by his long hair (ii Sam. 18:9). The terebinth is deciduous, shedding its leaves in winter (Isa. 1:29–30). Isaiah compares the remnant of Israel to the maẓẓevet ("trunk") of the oak and the terebinth which grew in the vicinity of the Shallekhet Gate in Jerusalem; though continually felled, the trees renewed themselves, putting forth lowly and fresh branches (6:13; see Rashi ad loc. and Feliks, p. 104, n. 9).

The Mishnah (Shev. 7:5) mentions the terebinth as one of the trees whose lulavim ("shoots") were eaten, apparently after being pickled in salt or vinegar. In Arabic the terebinth is called butm and in Aramaic butma; the Jerusalem Talmud notes that the latter is related to the pistachio (tj, Kil. 1:4, 27a) and even today it is sometimes customary to graft the pistachio on to the wild terebinth. The Pistacia atlantica is among the largest and oldest trees of Israel. Particularly well known is the ancient tree in Tel Dan near the source of the Jordan, which is about 1,000 years old and has a girth of about 20 ft. (6 m.). The species Pistacia palaestina is common in the Judean Hills and in Upper Galilee. Since its branches are gnawed by goats, it is mostly stunted and looks like a shrub.

bibliography:

Loew, Flora, 1 (1926), 191–5; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 104–6; idem, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 106f. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 26.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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