Herbs in the Bible
It is no secret that herbs and spices have been used by humans for several thousand years. The Bible may not be the first source we rely on to understand how herbs were used. Herbs certainly are not the center of attention in the Bible.
From other sources we know that a much larger variety of herbs were known at that time. On this page let us take a closer look at what herbs are specifically mentioned by name in the Bible.
Numbers 24:6 states that the Lord has planted aloe.
The body of Jesus was embalmed with aloe and myrrh before being wrapped in linen. John 19:39-40
In Song of Solomon 4:14 cinnamon, saffron, myrrh, aloe and calamus are praised.
In Exodus 16:31 the taste of manna is compared to coriander seeds.
Isaiah 28:25-27 speaks of how to beat cumin and dill.
In Matthew 23:23 the scribes and Pharisees are accused of being hypocrites for tithing mint, dill and cumin and neglecting the weightier matters of the law.
Dill is mentioned together with mint and cumin in Matthew 23:23.
Flax has been used to produce linen since ancient times. It is mentioned several times in the Bible.
Leviticus 6:10 tells us that the priest wore a linen garment.
In Joshua 2:6 the two men who were sent out to spy in Jericho hid under stacks of flax on the rooftop of the woman kind enough to help them.
Proverbs chapter 13 describes how a good wife conducts herself. In verse 13 it is told that she seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands.
Ezekiel 27:7 describes a sail made of fine embroidered linen from Egypt.
Linen was used to rap around the dead body of Jesus before they laid him in the tomb as described in Mark 15:46
We find only one reference to garlic in the Bible. In Numbers 11:5-6 the people of Israel remember the foods, herbs and spices they ate in Egypt. They crave meat as their strength weakens wandering through the desert.
Hyssop is the sacred and cleansing herb of the Bible.
In Exodus 12:22 Moses instructs the elders of Israel to mark the lintel and doorposts with blood from the Passover lamb. They were instructed to use a bunch of hyssop dipped in blood. The angel of death would pass each home marked in this manner.
Psalms 51:7 is an example of hyssop as a purifying and cleansing herb: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
When Jesus hung on the cross he said he was thirst and they held a sponge with vinegar on hyssop to his mouth. John 19:29
Mint is mentioned in the same verse as cumin in Matthew 23:23.
In Matthew 13:31 the mustard seed is compared to the kingdom of heaven. The seed is the smallest of all seeds, but will grow into the greatest of shrubs and eventually become a tree.
In Mark 5:31 the kingdom of God is also compared to a mustard seed.
The parallel of the mustard seed and the kingdom is repeated again in Luke 13:19
Jesus speaks of the powers of faith in Luke 17:6. Faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to do great things.
In Luke 11: 42 rue is mentioned together with mint. The Pharisees tithed mint, rue and other herbs while neglecting justice and the love of God.
Saffron is mentioned in the Song of Solomon 4:14: “ nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with chief spices –“
Wormwood is associated with bitterness and sorrow in the Bible.
In Jeremiah 23: 15 wicked prophets are threatened with wormwood to eat and poisoned water to drink.
Revelation 8: 11-12 speaks about happens when the third angel blew his trumpet. A star named Wormwood fell from heaven and fell on a third of the rivers. The water became wormwood and many died because it turned bitter.