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The word “herb” is used in different ways, for instance in 2 Kings 4:39, the young prophet prob. went to pick some wild herbs to give interesting flavor to the stew. The same word ’ōrâ is used in Isaiah 26:19, “a herb covered with dew”—hence the tr. “shining herb.” The word here could easily be a vegetable; on the other hand, the word deshe’ (Isa 6:14) tr. “herb,” merely means “green, tender grass.”

The green herbs ’yārāq’ of Proverbs 15:17 are prob. lettuce, for the reading is “better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it.” A fatted ox is a beautifully fattened beast in the stall, but the dinner of herbs would be a vegetarian dish.

The word ’ēseb undoubtedly means plants as a whole. Genesis 1:12 says: “herb yielding seed after his kind.” Exodus 9:25 says “The hail smote every herb of the field.” Psalm 104:14 is “herb for the service of man.” Isaiah 42:15 reads: “I will...dry up all their herbs.”

The general term herbs covering all plants is seen in Hebrews 6:7, whereas the Gr. lachanon in Luke 11:42 and Romans 14:2 obviously refers to culinary and medicinal herbs.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

hurb, urb:

(1) yaraq, "green thing" (Ex 10:15; Isa 15:6); a garden of herbs" (De 11:10; 1Ki 21:2); "(a dinner, the margin portion of) herbs" (Pr 15:17).

(2) `esebh; compare Arabic `ushb, "herbage," "grass," etc.; "herbs yielding seed" (Ge 1:11); "herbage" for food (Ge 1:30; Jer 14:6); translated "grass" (De 11:15; Am 7:2); "herbs" (Pr 27:25, etc.).

(3) deshe’, translated "herb" (2Ki 19:26; Pr 27:25; Isa 37:27; 66:14 the King James Version), but generally GRASS (which see).

(4) chatsir, vegetation generally, but translated GRASS (which see).

(5) ’oroth, ’owroth (plural only), "green plants" or "herbs." In 2Ki 4:39 the Talmud interprets it to mean "colewort," but it may mean any edible herbs which had survived the drought. In Isa 26:19 the expression "dew of herbs" is in the margin translated "dew of light" which is more probable (see Dew), and the translation "heat upon herbs" (Isa 18:4 the King James Version) is in the Revised Version (British and American) translated "clear heat in sunshine."

(6) botane (Heb 6:7).

(7) lachana = yaraq (Mt 13:32).


See also

  • Plants