Holm tree

HOLM TREE (תִּרְזָה). In the RSV, Cypress is tr. “holm wood” or “holm tree,” i.e. in Isaiah 44:14—“he chooses a holm tree or an oak.”

This holm tree is the holly, Ilex aquifolium, which does grow in the Syrian mountains, but not normally in Pal.

The tree is mentioned in Susannah. This may, however, be a wrong tr., and the tree is likely to have been Quercus ilex, i.e. the Live Oak.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


(1) tirzah (Isa 44:14, the King James Version "cypress"): The name, from the root meaning (compare Arabic taraza) "to be hard," implies some very hard wood. Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) has ilex, which is Latin for holm oak, so named from its holly-like leaves (hollen in Old English = "holly"); this translation has now been adopted, but it is doubtful.

(2) prinos, Susanna verse 58. This is the ilex or holm oak. There is a play on the words prinos and prisai (literally, "saw") in verses 58 and 59 (see Susanna). The evergreen or holm oak is represented by two species in Palestine, Quercus ilex and Q. coccifera. The leaf of both species is somewhat like a small holly leaf, is glossy green and usually spiny. The Q. ilex is insignificant, but Q. coccifera is a magnificent tree growing to a height of 40 ft. or more, and often found in Palestine flourishing near sacred tombs, and itself not infrequently the object of superstitious veneration.