[b-hebrew] collecting myrrh and honey

Yaakov Stein yaakov_s at rad.com
Tue Oct 16 02:14:11 EDT 2007

In chapter 5 of the Song of Songs
we have a line about "gathering" myrrh with spice,
eating a honeycomb with honey and drinking wine with milk.

The word MWR = myrrh is related to MR referring to its bitter taste,
in contrast to honey which is sweet, although of similar color.

The root of the word for "gather" is )RH, which appears in this sense
only here (the other uses mean "to curse", and are apparently

The interpretation of )RH is apparently gathered from context.
Myrrh would not be eaten or drunk, so what else could ARH mean ?
Although myrrh globules are sometimes found on the ground
near the trees, myrrh is usually collected by cutting the surface 
of the tree or bush and slowly collecting the golden sap as it exudes.

Collecting myrrh with "spice" would be an unusual practice,
but B&M here could possibly mean frankincense = LBWNH
which is collected in a similar manner.

Also note that honey may be similarly collected by waiting
for it to drip from the honeycomb = Y(R.

Although the other liquids mentioned are less viscous
they require intervention for their collection.
Wine juice is collected in a collection vat
after pressing of the grapes in the GT = winepress;
and milk is collected in a N)D or XMT by milking the animal.

So could )RH mean "collecting a dripping (viscous) liquid" ?

I was wondering if anyone knows of a cognate of )RH
in another Semitic language, to help understand its meaning.

(I have a reason for asking, but I don't want to explain yet 
in order not to prejudice any possible answers.)

Yaakov (J) Stein

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