Today we tend to use Bible herbs as flavorings or ornamental plants. While many of the herbs mentioned in the Bible are still in use, we’ve lost their original purpose and forgotten how useful they can be for health reasons.
Frankincense and Myrrh
Of course, any discussion of biblical herbs has to include myrrh. Myrrh is dried resin from a certain species of shrub that grows in arid regions. There are actually two types of myrrh — one medicinal and one fragrant. Botanical scholars believe the myrrh of biblical times had opiate qualities which makes Mark 15:23 more comprehensible. Jesus was offered vinegar mixed with myrrh but refused it. He would not be drugged.
Frankincense, although not an herb, is well known from the Bible. Frankincense is obtained from certain trees in the Middle East. The limbs are slit and the resin that is released is collected an used as incense. In the Bible, it was used for holy incense, and many religions still use it for that purpose today.
Healing With Bible Herbs
Since many herbs trace their roots to the Holy Land, they are a living connection to the Bible. While there are too many to list, here are some that are still in use and healing today–
Mustard is categorized as a food, medicine, spice, and condiment. Taken internally, it’s a superior stimulant similar in effect to cayenne. Mustard seeds have been shown to help reduce the severity of asthma, decrease some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and help prevent cancer.
Great for congestion as well as an antiseptic and disinfectant. Mentioned in old and new testaments, this herb will reduce inflammation and loosen phlegm.
Mint was a well known food flavorng during Biblical times, and it still is. It was also taken after eating a meal as a digestive aid.
Both Hebrews and Egyptians used myrrh for incense, perfumes, cosmetics, and medicines. It has excellent cleansing properties, and today we use it in treating sore throats and as an ingredient in mouthwash for sore and bleeding gums.
Nutmeg comes from a tree that produces two different spices. The outside of the seed is Mace, and internal part of the seed is nutmeg. It’s well known for being added to baked goods, but can also be used as a sedative and treatment for diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
The Bible On Herbs
The medicinal power of herbs is something which the people in Biblical times knew quite well. Since many people today are health conscious, there is a resurgence in exploring herbs as medicines. A survey conducted by Prevention magazine indicated that one-third of all adults now use herbs to treat health conditions such as allergies, burns, colds, flu, and depression. Even the herbs we think of as spices, also have medicinal qualities–
- Anise (Matthew 23:23 KJV)
- Coriander (Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:7)
- Cinnamon (Exodus 30:23; Revelation 18:13)
- Cumin (Isaiah 28:25; Matthew 23:23)
- Dill (Matthew 23:23)
- Garlic (Numbers 11:5)
- Mint (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42)
- Mustard (Matthew 13:31)
- Rue (Luke 11:42)
Creating a Bible Garden
What the heck is a mandrake, and why did Reuben give one to Leah? Bible stories may sound familiar, but it’s hard to visualize the myriad of herbs, flowers, plants, and trees that are mentioned in scripture. What comes to your mind when you read Solomon’s beloved is like a rose of Sharon?
Drawing a blank? Many people do and that’s partly why Bible gardens are becoming popular. Many people are curious about the plants mentioned in the scriptures. A bible garden is simply a garden that that uses the plants mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. While there is no specific design, there is usually a place to pray or meditate in a Bible garden.
Since most of the Middle East was desert, gardens were very important to the people of the Bible. They were so valued that they were known as an oasis. Perhaps that is why the the Bible teaches so many Christian precepts — seasons of life, bearing fruit, etc.– with gardening metaphors.
If you want to see Bible gardens on a grand scale, visit the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC., Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina, or the Warsaw Biblical Garden in Indiana. They’ll give you ideas on how to create your own Bible garden.