BOX-TREE (Hebrew, ):

Judging by Isa. lx. 13, the box-tree (A. V. "box") is a tree of the Lebanon, promised for the rebuilding of the Temple, together with the "fir-tree and pine." In Isa. xli. 19 there is a prophecy that the fir-tree, the pine, and the box-tree (R. V., margin, "cypress") would flourish in what was then the desert. In Ezek. xxvii. 6 the Revised Version, adopting a better division of the consonants, translates "boxwood from the isles of Kittim" as parallel to fir, cedar, and oak, used for ship-building. In Ezek. xxxi. 3 Ewald emends "the Assyrian" () to read "a box-tree" () ("Behold a box-tree was in Lebanon"). Compare Cornill's Ezekiel, ad loc.

The tree in question is called "te'ashshur," a word occurring only in Hebrew. That Aquila and Theodotion simply transliterate the word throws a suspicion on the tradition; likewise that the Septuagint ("cedar," Isa. lx.) evidently makes a poor guess. Symmachus, as well as the Vulgate, wavers between the renderings "box-tree" (Isa. xli.) and "pine" (Isa. lx.). Peshiṭta (shurbinta) and Saadia understand that the sharbin-tree of modern Arabic is meant. This seems to be the shurmenu of the Assyrians, which, according to a geographical list (Delitzsch, "Wo Lag das Paradies?" p. 101), was the characteristic tree of the Lebanon. At present the sharbin of the Lebanon (called a cypress by some, a kind of juniper by others) is a pine-tree, extending its branches widely at a small angle with the stem, and bearing very small fruit-cones (Seetzen, "Reisen," i. 167). I. Löw ("Aramäische Pflanzennamen," pp. 387-388) distinguishes this Juniperus oxycedrus or Phœnicea from Syriac sharwaina, Cupressus sempervirens (Targumic shurbina, Syriac shurbinta, a differentiation which is followed at present by few writers). Hoffmann ("Ueber Einige Phönikische Inschriften," p. 21) tries to assimilate the Hebrew "te'ashshur" with the word "shurbin" by a series of emendations. But for the testimony in form of the traditional view furnished by the Hexaplar, this identification would be acceptable. The identification with the box-tree, on the other hand, is supported by Theodotion and the Targumic eshkero'a, which, after the Syriac eshkar'a, is the Buxus sempervirens (Löw, ib. p. 63); not the Buxus longifolia, which, besides being too low, is a shrub, and does not occur in Phenicia. The fact that it came from Kittim (Cyprus) does not help toward the solution of the difficulties involved. Possibly both branches of the tradition rest only on the graphic similarity; but with the scanty material at disposal no decision between the two explanations is possible. See Cypress.

J. Jr. W. M. M.
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