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CUCUMBER (מִקְשָׁה, H5252, קִשֻּׁאָה, H7991). In Isaiah 1:8, referred to as a “garden of cucumbers”—may be the “place of the water melon.” Cucumbers in Numbers 11:5 (Heb. quishshu’îm) may mean “watermelon,” “gourd,” or “cucumber.”

Cucumbers were grown and were eaten raw as a salad. The market gardeners would have a roughly built shelter on their cucumber acreage so that a farm laborer could be “on guard” to prevent stealing. Hence, the lodge (Heb. melûnâ) in Isaiah 1:8—i.e. a place for “spending the night.” This lodge would fall to pieces at the end of the season, being only roughly built. Thus, the “utter desolation” mentioned in Isaiah 1.

Cucumbers grow well where there is water. Hence, in Pal. they are found near Lake Gennesaret, and S of Bethsaida.

Together with melons, cucumbers were much grown in Egypt with Nile water irrigation. The Israelites obviously ate and liked the cucumbers, and moaned when they could not have them in the Wilderness (Num 11:5).

The main cucumber grown was similar to the one seen today, Cucumis sativus. This has been known since early Biblical days. It was food for the poor, i.e. bread and cucumber.

There is, however, a hairy cucumber found growing in the market gardens near Cairo, called Cucumis chate. This is more of a melon, though given the name, “The King of Cucumbers.” See Food; Agriculture.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

One of the articles of food for which Israel in the wilderness looked back with longing to Egypt (Nu 11:5). Cucumbers are great favorites with all the people of Palestine. Two varieties occur, Cucumis sativus (Arabic, Khyar), originally a product of Northwest India, which is smooth-skinned, whitish and of delicate flavor, and requires much water in its cultivation, and Cucumis chate (Arabic, faqqus), which is long and slender but less juicy than the former. Probably the Biblical reference is to this latter as it is a plant much grown in Egypt where it is said to attain unusual excellence.

A "garden of cucumbers" or more literally a "place of cucumbers" (miqshdh), is mentioned in Isa 1:8; Baruch 6:70. "A lodge in a garden of cucumbers" (Isa 1:8) is the rough wooden booth erected by the owner from which he keeps guard over his ripening vegetables. It is commonly raised upon poles and, when abandoned for the season, it falls into decay and presents a dreary spectacle of tottering poles and dead leaves.

See also

  • Plants