- CINNAMON (Heb. קִנָּמוֹן, kinnamon; also called in the Bible keẓi'ah and kiddah), a spice. Kinnamon or kinneman besem ("sweet cinnamon") was one of the ingredients of the "holy anointing oil," used for anointing the tent of meeting and its vessels as well as the high priest Aaron and his sons (Ex. 30:22–32). According to a baraita dating from the Second Temple period (Ker. 6a and parallel passages), cinnamon was one of the ingredients of the incense used in the Temple, although it is not included in those enumerated in the Bible (Ex. 30:34ff.). The woman of loose virtue perfumed her bed "with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon" to entice her lovers (Prov. 7:17). Cinnamon was a costly spice and its source was a closely guarded secret. Many legends were woven around its origin, as for example that it was produced by the fabulous phoenix (II Bar. 6:13). Cinnamon comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum. There are two varieties, the genuine Ceylon cinnamon (C.z. Breyne), and the Chinese (C.z. var. cassia = C. cassia Blume), most scholars being of the opinion that the former did not reach the Mediterranean area before the Middle Ages and hence the references in early literature is to the latter. Keẓi'ah is mentioned among the spices used for perfuming the clothes of the king (Ps. 45:9) and as an ingredient of the incense used in the Temple (Ker. 6a). It has been identified with some part of the Chinese C. cassia tree, and by I. Loew with its dried flowers, known among the Romans as flores cassiae. It may, however, refer to some other layer of the bark of the cinnamon tree, which produces different kinds of cinnamon. The name keẓi'ah is apparently connected with the Chinese kuei-chih (in Latin cassia) meaning the bark of the cinnamon. Kiddah is mentioned with kinneman besem among the ingredients of the anointing oil, and identified by Onkelos with keẓi'ah. According to Ezekiel (27:19), Tyrian merchants imported kiddah from a place called Me'uzal (AV: "going to and fro"). An interesting parallel is given by the naturalist Dioscorides (De Materia Medica, 1:13), who mentions a species known as kitto or mosylon and similar to Cassia, on which Galen commented that the reference was to cinnamon coming from Me'uzal on the African coast. According to Pliny and others, it yields several products: a thin and a thick bark, flowers, and branches. The cinnamon is a tropical tree, which, an aggadah declares, grew in Ereẓ Israel: "Goats fed on the cinnamon tree and Jews used to grow it" (TJ, Pe'ah 7:4, 20a; Gen. R. 65:17). R. Judah stated: "The (fuel) logs of Jerusalem were of cinnamon trees, and when lit their fragrance pervaded the whole of Ereẓ Israel. But when Jerusalem was destroyed they were hidden" (Shab. 63a). The cinnamon tree was included among the trees of the Garden of Eden (Gen. R. 33:6). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (1957), 263–7; Loew, Flora, 2 (1924), 107ff., 278. (Jehuda Feliks)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.