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MYRTLE (הֲדַס). Found six times, sometimes as myrtle branches (Neh 8:15), often as myrtle trees (Zech 1:8, 10, 11). A well-known reference is Isaiah 55:13—“Instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree.”

The myrtle is undoubtedly Myrtus communis. This grows abundantly in Pal. and particularly around the Lake of Galilee and near Samaria and Jerusalem. The tree is an evergreen, thirty ft. tall; the leaves are small, shiny, slightly-scented and leathery. The white or pinkish flowers are scented, and are followed by blue-black berries, which can produce a perfume.

Because they are evergreen, the boughs were used at the Feast of Tabernacles. Nehemiah ordered (Neh 8:15) that myrtle branches should be cut to make booths for this festival. Myrtle still is gathered in Pal. for a similar purpose.

The fascinating fragrance of Russian and Turkish leather comes from the fact that the roots and bark of myrtle are used during tanning.

The queens of England carry sprigs of myrtle in their wedding bouquets as a symbol of peace. Queen Esther’s Heb. name was Hadassah, or Myrtle.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

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