Bay Tree

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The oren, mentioned only once in the Bible (Isa. 44:14), is identified in the Talmud (rh 23a) with ara, the bay tree. It is mentioned in the Mishnah (Par. 3:8) as being among the trees that were used in preparing the fire for the burning of the red heifer. From it (according to one reading) long poles were made for the beacons that were kindled to announce the New Moon (rh 2:3). In Israel it is an important forest-tree that grows extensively on moist mountain slopes. An evergreen, its aromatic leaves are used for seasoning food, and were, according to the Talmud, an ingredient in a cure for intestinal worms (Git. 69b). In modern Hebrew oren denotes the pine tree, an identification that is based on the Septuagint, but the pine is the biblical eẓ shemen. The translation of oren as "ash" (av) or as "cedar" (rv) is untenable, the latter being the biblical erez. In modern Hebrew the bay tree is called dafnah or eẓ aẓil.


Loew, Flora, 2 (1924), 119–23; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (1957), 92. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 21.

[Jehuda Feliks]