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GARLIC, GARLICK (שׁוּמִֽים). Garlic is mentioned only once in the Bible (Num 11:5)—“the leeks, the onions and the garlic.” Though the mention of garlic refers to the bulbs grown in Egypt, there is no doubt at all that this crop subsequently was grown in the Holy Land, and was used in cooking.

This flavorsome vegetable is mentioned because the Israelites were tired of the simple manna and longed for the pleasant varieties eaten in Egypt.

The bulbous perennial garlic is Allium sativum. When planted, it produces a number of smaller surrounding bulbs, which are called cloves.

Garlic has been used medicinally as a digestive stimulant, and its juice as an antiseptic.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(shum, used only in plural shumim; compare Arabic thum):

One of the delights of Egypt for which the Israelites in the Wilderness longed (Nu 11:5); we know from other sources that, though originally a product of Central Asia, garlic was known to the ancient Egyptians. It is the bulb of Allium sativum, Natural Order Liliaceae, and is cultivated all over the Orient. It is eaten cooked in stews; its disagreeable penetrating odor is in evidence in the houses and on the breath of most Orientals. A bulb of garlic, hung over a bed or over the door of a house, is a powerful charm against the evil eye and other malign influences.

See also

  • Plants