Biblical Herbs

Many herbs and vegetables and perinianuals are mentioned in the bible. Today we will study a few in detail and look up were they are found in the bible. People who lived in Jesus’s time were wonderful herbalists! They used the herbs not only for food, but to flavor food and also for medicinal purposes. They did not visit the doctor at the hospitalaround the corner. read HEBREWS 6:7

We know that biblical people set aside plots specifically for herbs: read 1 KINGS 21:2

When the children of Israel wandered into the desert and received manna from heaven it was described as what? read NUMBERS 11:7-9

Hyssop was often referred to as the herb used in purification: read PSALMS 51:7. It was also used to prevent blood from coagulating which may explain why the Jews in Egypt were told to use it at the time of the passover: read EXODUS 12:22

The medicinal use of Hyssop can be found in read JOHN 19:29-30

Solomon must have been a very wise for in proof of his wisdom this passage can be found: read 1 KINGS 4:33

The biblical hyssop -the plant which is called hyssopus officinalis- is native to southern Europe but not to the Holy Land or to Egypt- therefore the hyssop that we grow is not the one from the bible. That one could have been -according to bible authorities- marjoram, the caper plant, sorghum, the maidenhair spleenwort or the wallrue.

Mint was well known as being used for flavoring food as it still is today. Some bible experts say mint was among the “bitter herbs” mentioned in Exodus 12:8 and Numbers 9:11 along with leaves of endive, chicory, lettuce, watercress, sorrel, and dandelions. All of these eaten as a salad. Mint was eaten after eating as a form of digestive aiding.

Parsley although not mentioned in the bible was abundant and was used at the passover as a symbol of a new beginning because it was one of the first herbs to pop up in the spring. The Romans served it at banquets as a breath freshener. Another passage reflecting the bitter herbs is EXODUS 12:8 and also NUMBERS 9:11.

Anise is mentioned in the King James version of the bible in MATTHEW 23:23. (read)

The word anise is considered a mistake in translation for most modern translators quote this passage as “mint and DILL and cummin”.

Garlic is still the same garlic we use today. It was a favorite thing to eat by the Kings of the times.

The Gourd of JONAH 4:6 is thought by some to be the castor bean plant.

Mallow was cut up by Job for food. This plant is the saltwort plant, which is a saline plant something like spinach and eaten by the poor. read JOB 30:4

Mandrake is mentioned in Genesis 30:14-16. The story tells of Rachael requesting the mandrakes from Rueben, it does not tell that Rachael believed in their magical qualities, although in those days the plant was held by the heathen for their magical properties. It is also known as the love apple. (Refer to page 87 in Biblical plants for American gardens)

Rue was mentioned by Jesus in His rebuke of the Pharisees.

So which THORN did Christ wear on the cross?

Many thorns and brambles grew in the time of Jesus. The thorn most believed to be the thorn which He wore is the Jeruselum thorn Paliurus Spina-Christi. Refer to pg 180 in above mentioned book.

Other plants mentioned in the BIBLE:

  • Perfumes and baths, from precious woods: balm, frankincense, camphire, cinnamon and cassia, saffron
  • Staples were:  corn, wheat, lentils, millet, beans, barley
  • Flowers mentioned in the bible: Willow herb, Water lily, Violet, Tulip, Salvia, Star of Bethlehem, Rose, Ranunculus, Peony, Nigella, Narcissus, Meadow Saffron, Mallow, Lupine, Loosestrife, Lily, Larkspur, Jonquil, Hyacinth, Bedstraw, Crocus, Anemone
  • Herbs from the Bible: Wild Gourd,Rue, Mustard, Mint, Melon, Mandrake, Mallow, Hyssop, garlic, leek, onion, coriander, anise, cummin, flax, cukecumber, bay leaf, chervil, cinnamon
  • Trees of the bible: willow, pine, poplar, oak, mulberry, myrtle, juniper, green bay tree, elm, chestnut, cypress and cedarwood
  • Fruits mentioned: pomegranate, palm, nuts, apple and olives

Two Favorite Christian Herbs:


Frankincense, also called Olibanum has been used for religious rites for centuries. It is mentioned in the first 5 books often. It has been used to treat internal and external ailments. It is a gummy resin found in small thorny trees called Boswellia Thurifera, growing in Africa, Yemen, and the Red Sea Countries. The sap from the trees oozes out forming small white peas, which harden in the air and turns yellow. These are burned for the aroma. The oil of Frankincense is calming and soothing and deepens breathing. So, therefore using it in a vaporizer is helpful for those with breathing ailments. Add 5-6 drops to a bath for a calming experience!


This is an old fashioned remedy for making a wash for infections. It was used by the Egyptians and Hebrews for incense, cosmetics, perfumes, and medicines. It was also used at that time for embalming. It was considered, as was Frankincense, a rare treasure and was so thought to be a great gift for Baby Jesus! It, too, is a gummy resin derived from the shrub: Commiphora, which is found in Arabia and Abyssinia. Now-a-days, it is used in treating sore throats, infected gums, thrush, and athletes foot. It contains cleansing agents, therefore, countering poisens in the body. It also stimulates the circulatory system and is an expectorant! Another name for garden myrhh is sweet cicely. This plant has fern like foliage with dull white flowers and grows to be about 3 feet tall.

Herbs used for Biblical Remedies

  • Sore and wounds were treated mostly with poultices made from bear’s breech, honey and lard, ivy gum (from the ivy plant), agrimony, linseed oil, and papaya peel.
  • Sprains were wrapped with an ointment made from the crushed leaves of comfrey plant.Rheumatism was treated by soaking the balm of Gilliad in olive oil and applied in liniment form.
  • By having a massage with salt followed by a full body shampoo, you would feel as you do after enjoying a soak in a spa. This helps with blood circulation.
  • Upset stomachs were settled by gargeling with rosemary water, and drinking it. Also ginger root would have been nibbled on.
  • Headaches called for rosemary tea, or spearmint leaves being layed on the forehead. Sweet marjoram’s oil was rubbed upon the forehead for relief.
  • Rosemary twigs were boiled in water and used to wash a feverish body. White willow was made into a tes for what we know as an asprin effect.
  • An earache? Softened flowers of the mullein plant steeped in olive oil were used as drops. Garlic was also thought to have releived pain and loosen the earwax.

Holy Thistle

Holy Thistle is given it’s name from a legend connected with the Virgin MAry, whose tears falling on the plant, gave it the white substance with which it has ever been covered.

St. John’s Wort

It is the tradition that the leaves of St. John’s Wort are stained with red spots on the 29th August, the day St. John the Baptist was beheaded. It’s ancient name, Fuga Daemonum, referred to it’s power of driving away evil spirits. The night of St. John has been celebrated all over the world by peasant girls who hang the plant over their doors, and sleep with it under their pillows, to get rid of evil spells, or to fortell who their future husbands will be.