HYSSOP (Heb. אֵזוֹב), small plant that grows in rocks and stone walls. The Greek hyssōpos is used to translate Hebrew ēzôb on account of phonetic similarity, but in reality the plants are different; the ēzôb of the Bible, or "Syrian hyssop," is known to Anglophones as marjoram. In the Bible, it is contrasted with the lofty cedar of the Lebanon (I Kings 5:13). The two were used together for purposes of purification – in the preparation of the ashes of the red heifer (Num. 19:6), as well as in the water for the purification of the leper (Lev. 14:4) and of the house smitten with leprosy (ibid. 14:49). In Egypt a bunch of hyssop was used for sprinkling blood on the Israelites' doorposts (Ex. 12:22). It was also used for sprinkling the water of purification (Num. 19:18). Several reasons were given for the choice of hyssop for purposes of purification. A homiletic interpretation holds that this small plant symbolizes humility in contrast with the cedar that typifies pride, their union demonstrating that man should humble himself before his Creator. Practical reasons for its choice are that "the ash of the hyssop is good and plentiful" (with reference to preparing the ashes of the red heifer, Tosef., Par. 4:10), and that "it is effective in counteracting an offensive odor" (R. Samuel Sarsa on Ibn Ezra's comment to Ex. 12:22). The tractate parah , which deals with the laws of the ashes of the red heifer, contains morphological details about the structure of the hyssop plant: its lower part is woody (Par. 11:8), its stalks branch out sideways, and at the top of each are clusters of at least three buds (ibid. 11:9). It grew wild, but was cultivated as a spice (Ma'as. 3:9). These descriptions are compatible with Majorana syriaca (Origanum maru), a plant of the Labiatae family that grows wild in Israel among and on rocks. The leaves and stems contain a volatile oil used as a perfume – oil of marjoram. The Samaritans still use this plant for sprinkling blood at the ceremony of slaughtering the Passover sacrifice. Members of Oriental communities use it as a spice, crumbling it on bread, and refer to it as za'tar, which also includes other species of the Labiatae family, such as savory and thyme. These two species, the former si'aḥ and the latter koranit, are included in the Mishnah, together with hyssop, among the aromatic herbs (Shev. 8:1). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew, Flora, 2 (1924), 84–101; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), index; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 177–9. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 22, W. Propp, Exodus 118 (1998), 407. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Hyssop — • A plant which is referred to in a few passages of Holy Writ, and which cannot be identified with certainty at the present day Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Hyssop     Hyssop …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Hyssop — Hys sop, n. [OE. hysope, ysope, OF. ysope, F. hysope, hyssope, L. hysopum, hyssopum, hyssopus, Gr. ?, ?, an aromatic plant, fr. Heb. [=e]sov.] A plant ({Hyssopus officinalis}). The leaves have an aromatic smell, and a warm, pungent taste. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hyssop — O.E. ysope, from Irish Latin hysopus, from Gk. hyssopos, a plant of Palestine, used in Jewish purification rites, from Heb. ezobh (Cf. Syriac zupha, Arabic zufa) …   Etymology dictionary

  • hyssop — ► NOUN 1) a small bushy aromatic plant whose leaves are used in cookery and herbal medicine. 2) (in biblical use) a wild shrub whose twigs were used in ancient Jewish rites of purification. ORIGIN Greek hyss pos, of Semitic origin …   English terms dictionary

  • hyssop — [his′əp] n. [ME isope < OE & OFr ysope < L hyssopus < Gr hyssōpos, hyssōpon < Heb ēzōbh] 1. a) a fragrant herb (Hyssopus officinalis) of the mint family, usually with blue flowers, having leaves once used in folk medicine as a tonic,… …   English World dictionary

  • Hyssop — Hyssopus can also refer to a genus of Hymenopteran insects of the family Eulophidae. : For the biblical plant usually translated as hyssop, see Ezob .Taxobox name = Hyssop image width = 240px image caption = Herb Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis… …   Wikipedia

  • hyssop — /his euhp/, n. 1. any of several aromatic herbs belonging to the genus Hyssopus, of the mint family, esp. H. officinalis, native to Europe, having clusters of small blue flowers. 2. any of several related or similar plants, esp. of the genera… …   Universalium

  • hyssop — Plants related to marjoram which were tied together in a bunch for sprinkling water in ritual purifications. The reference to hyssop at the crucifixion (John 19:29) is puzzling, since the stem of this plant is not tough enough to bear the weight… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • hyssop — noun Etymology: Middle English ysop, from Old English ysope, from Latin hyssopus, from Greek hyssōpos, of Semitic origin; akin to Hebrew ēzōbh hyssop Date: before 12th century 1. a plant used in purificatory sprinkling rites by the ancient… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hyssop — vaistinis isopas statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Notrelinių šeimos prieskoninis, vaistinis augalas (Hyssopus officinalis), paplitęs Azijos vakaruose, Europos pietuose ir Afrikos šiaurėje. Naudojamas maisto priedams (kvėpikliams) gaminti.… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

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