BROOM, the biblical rotem (Ar. ratam), the wild shrub Retam roetam, widespread in the deserts of Israel and in sandy regions. It produces a few leaves in the winter, which it sheds in the summer, its green stalks filling the function of the leaves in photosynthesis. According to R. Meir the shrub under which Hagar left her son Ishmael (Gen. 21:15) was the broom, "since it grows in the desert" (Gen. R. 53:13). Elijah lay down in the shade of a broom in the wilderness "a day's journey from Beer-sheba" (I Kings 19:3–5), "and he requested for himself that he might die"; and indeed it is difficult to find refuge from the powerful rays of the desert sun in the shade of this leafless bush. In the tents of Kedar they used "coals of rotem" for fuel and for fashioning arrows (Ps. 120:4–5). The roots are bitter but it is apparently possible to render them edible by roasting. Thus the hungry dwellers in the desert eat the saltwort (Heb. malu'aḥ, orach ) "and the roots of the broom are their food" (Job 30:4; however, some translate laḥmam לַחְמָם, "their food" as "to warm themselves thereby" from חמם). According to the aggadah, the glowing embers of the broom have a remarkable characteristic: "For all embers are extinguished within (after they die down on the outside) but broom embers still burn within when extinguished on the outside" (Gen. R. 98:19). According to another aggadah coals of broom retain their heat for 12 months (BB 74b). Onkelos and the Vulgate translate the rotem by juniper to whose embers Jerome attributes this quality of retaining their heat for 12 months. This identification is however wrong. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew, Flora, 2 (1924), 469–73; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), 305; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 130f. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • broom|y — «BROO mee», adjective. 1. covered with or abounding in broom. 2. of a broom or besom. 3. like broom or a broom …   Useful english dictionary

  • broom — brüm, bru̇m n any of various leguminous shrubs (esp. genera Cytisus and Genista) with long slender branches, upright growth, small leaves, and usu. showy yellow flowers esp SCOTCH BROOM see BROOM TOP * * * (br m) any of various s …   Medical dictionary

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  • broom — [bro͞om, broom] n. [ME & OE brom, brushwood < IE base * bh(e)rem , to project, a point > BERM, BRAMBLE] 1. any of a group of flowering shrubs (esp. genera Cytisus, Genista, and Spartium) of the pea family, often grown for their abundant,… …   English World dictionary

  • broom — O.E. brom broom, brushwood, the common flowering shrub whose twigs were tied together to make a tool for sweeping, from P.Gmc. *bræmaz thorny bush (Cf. Du. braam, Ger. Brombeere blackberry ), from PIE root *bh(e)rem to project, a point. Both the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • broom — ► NOUN 1) a long handled brush used for sweeping. 2) a shrub with many yellow flowers and small or few leaves. ● a new broom sweeps clean Cf. ↑a new broom sweeps clean ORIGIN Old English, related to BRAMBLE(Cf. ↑ …   English terms dictionary

  • Broom — Broom, v. t. (Naut.) See {Bream}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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