| Willows, The Brook Of The
(1.) Heb. 'arabim (Lev. 23:40; Job 40:22; Isa. 15:7; 44:3, 4; Ps. 137:1, 2). This was supposed to be the weeping willow, called by Linnaeus Salix Babylonica, from the reference in Ps. 137. This tree is frequently found "on the coast, overhanging wells and pools. There is a conspicuous tree of this species over a pond in the plain of Acre, and others on the Phoenician plain." There are several species of the salix in Palestine, but it is not indigenous to Babylonia, nor was it cultivated there. Some are of opinion that the tree intended is the tamarisk or poplar.
(2.) Heb. tzaphtzaphah (Ezek. 17:5), called by the Arabs the safsaf, the general name for the willow. This may be the Salix AEgyptica of naturalists.
Tristram thinks that by the "willow by the water-courses," the Nerium oleander, the rose-bay oleander, is meant. He says, "It fringes the Upper Jordan, dipping its wavy crown of red into the spray in the rapids under Hermon, and is nutured by the oozy marshes in the Lower Jordan nearly as far as to Jericho...On the Arnon, on the Jabbok, and the Yarmuk it forms a continuous fringe. In many of the streams of Moab it forms a complete screen, which the sun's rays can never penetrate to evaporate the precious moisture. The wild boar lies safely ensconced under its impervious cover."
are mentioned in (Leviticus 23:40
; Job 40:22
; Psalms 137:2
; Isaiah 44:4
) With respect to the tree upon which the captive Israelites hung their harps, there can be no doubt that the weeping willow Salix babylonica
, is intended. This tree grows abundantly on the banks of the Euphrates, in other parts of Asia as in Palestine. The Hebrew word translated willows is generic, and includes several species of the large family of Salices
, which is well represented in Palestine and the Bible lands, such as the Salix alba, S. viminalis
(osier), S. aegyptiaca
- wil'-oz (`arabhim); itea (Lev 23:40
; Job 40:22
; Ps 137:2
; Isa 15:7
)): In all references this tree is mentioned as beside running water. They may all refer to the willow, two varieties of which, Salix fragilis and S. alba, occur commonly in Palestine, or to the closely allied Populus euphratus (also Natural Order Salicaceae), which is even more plentiful, especially on the Jordan and its tributaries. The Brook of the Willows (Isa 15:7
) must have been some stream running from Moab to the Jordan or Dead Sea. Popular fancy has associated the willows of Ps 137:2
with the so-called "weeping willow" (Salix babylonica), but though this tree is found today in Palestine, it is an introduction from Japan and cannot have existed "by the waters of Babylon" at the time of the captivity.
E. W. G. Masterman