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Mustard...not easy answer

Author:  biogardenerEmail  Print
Discussion:  Plants of the Bible - Part 2 - Jesus and New Testament Stories
Date:  Mar 26, 2005 11:10 PM
Subject:  Mustard Seed, wrong translation?
I was told by a Bible scholar quite some time ago that Jesus was not
talking about what we call mustard plants now but about a smaller seed
of a tree. That is why he says that the birds nest in the branches of
the tree. The term "herb" at the time of the Bible translation simply
meant "plant," so this explanations sounds plausible to me. Birds are
pretty smart in choosing plants in which to build nests.

I can't remember the name of the tree I was told it most likely was, but it does not grow in North America anyway. 

Name: Black Mustard or Brassica nigra Some think Sinapis orientalis is the biblical mustard.
Bible verse: Matthew 13: 31-32; Matthew 17:20; Mark 4: 31-32; Luke 13:19; Luke 17:6
Mustard seeds are from the mustard plant, which is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. 
While there are approximately forty different varieties of mustard
plants, there are three principal types used to make mustard seeds:
black mustard (Brassica nigra), white mustard (Brassica alba) and brown
mustard (Brassica juncea).

Black mustard seeds have the most pungent taste, while white mustard
seeds, which are actually yellow in color, are the most mild and are the
ones used to make American yellow mustard. Brown mustard, which is
actually dark yellow in color, has a pungent acrid taste and is the type
used to make Dijon mustard.

Mustard also yields an oil similar to colza oil.

Medical: Shown to help reduce the severity of asthma, decrease some of
the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and help prevent cancer; helps to
lower high blood pressure, to restore normal sleep patterns in women
having difficulty with the symptoms of menopause, to reduce the
frequency of migraine attacks, and to prevent heart attack in patients
suffering from atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease; seeds also
qualified as a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as a good
source of iron, calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium, protein, niacin and
dietary fiber.

Brassica nigra is now an annual garden herb, but in former days it grew wild in the fields of Palestine
The Jews sowed and cultivated it in their fields and not in their gardens (Mt 13.31*) probably for the oil.
The Latest update (Aug. 19th) from Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Preserve in Israel:
Helen Frenkley writes: ...let me share the information I gleaned from Nogah Hareuveni regarding the mustard seed quandary.
There is a story in the Babylonian Talmud (Ktubot 111b) that goes as
follows: Rabbi Yosef told of an event in a place called Shikhin. A man
inherited three branches of a mustard plant from his father. One of them
split open revealing nine kavim of mustard [seeds], and with its wood
[lumber] he built the roof of the potters shed.

The kav is a biblical measure, which, according to the renowned biblical
archaeologist, Professor William Albright, is equal to 1.22 liters.
Therefore 9 kavim equal just under 11 liters  almost three gallons! -
of mustard seeds.

Whether exaggerated prose or poetic license, it is of interest that both
the Talmud and the New Testament refer to the lowly mustard plant as
something that will grow to great size, whether for birds to perch on,
for building material, or as a source of truly fantastic yields. At Neot
Kedumim, we see mustard plants grow to a height that allow small birds
to perch on the stalk, but we've not used the dried stalks for thatch,
or harvested measurable yields of mustard seeds.


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