Ivy

IVY (κισσός). “They were compelled to go in procession to Bacchus, carrying ivy” (2 Macc 6:7 KJV). This plant is undoubtedly Hedera helix, a climbing plant. It is found on walls and rocks in the Holy Land, and is connected with Bacchus, the God of wine.

In ancient Rom. days, a spray of ivy hung outside the door of every tavern in which wine was sold. This sign was similar in effect to the colored, striped poles outside barbers’ shops.

The Greeks dedicated the ivy to Bacchus, and the Israelites therefore hated entering the temple of Bacchus to be made to worship, carrying his plant, the ivy.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The only mention of the word in all the sacred writings is in 2 Macc 6:7 in connection with the oppression of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes: "On the day of the king’s birth every month they were brought by bitter constraint to eat of the sacrifices; and when the feast of Bacchus (Dionysus) was kept, the Jews were compelled to go in procession to Dionysus, carrying ivy," this plant (Hedera helix) being sacred to the Greek god of wine and of the culture of the vine (compare Eur. Bacchae, passim). It was of ivy or of pine that the "corruptible crown" of the famous Isthmian games was made (1Co 9:25).