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The meaning of Ash (1) in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

ash ('oren; the Revised Version (British and American) FIR-TREE; the Revised Version, margin Ash): A maker of idols "planteth a fir-tree (margin, "ash"), and the rain doth nourish it" (Isaiah 44:14). It is a suggestion as old as Luther that the final letter "n", was originally a "z", and that the word should be 'erez, "cedar"; the chief objection is that cedar occurs just before in the same verse. The word 'oren seems to be connected with the Assyrian irin, meaning fir or cedar or allied tree. "Fir" has support from the Septuagint and from the rabbis. Post (HDB) suggests as probable the stone pine, Pinus pinea, which has been extensively planted round Beirut and unlike most planted trees flourishes without artificial watering—"the rain doth nourish it."

The translation "ash" was probably suggested by the fanciful resemblance of the Hebrew 'oren and the Latin ornus, the manna ash of Europe. Three varieties of ash flourish in Syria, Fraxinus ornus, F. excelsior and F. oxycarpa. The last mentioned, which is common in parts of North Palestine, being a large tree some 30 to 40 ft. high, might suit the context were there anything philological to support the idea.

E. W. G. Masterman


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