Notes Endive

The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Numbers 9:11 (KJV)

In the second month on the fourteenth day in the evening they shall keep it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Numbers 9:11 (RSV)

In the second month on the fourteenth day between the two evenings, they should prepare it. Together with unfermented cakes and bitter greens they should eat it.

Numbers 9:11 (NWT)

Some scholars regard endive as the bitter herb of Moses. Apparently Zohary does not (ZOH), more convinced that C. pumilum Jacq. was the bitter herb. Not to worry; that is just a variety or subspecies

FIGURE 1.23 Endive (Cichorium endivia).

of endive. The Flora of Palestine, not noted for including alien cultivars, lists neither endive nor chicory but does list the dwarf chicory (which see). Jane Philips (HJP) implies that the uses of the three pertinent taxa are interchangeable medicinally, at least in Lebanon. The chemistry and synonymy reported in Hager's Handbook (HH2) seem to support Philips's implications. I accept the HH2 and USN view, accepting C. pumilum and C. endivia as subspecies of the same species, C. endivia.

Zohary does comment that the dwarf chicory, like several of the nine Mediterranean species of Cichorium, is eaten by cattle and humans alike. A weedy progenitor is more likely to have been eaten by biblical peasants than the cultivated chicory or endive, which Zohary excludes from his account. However, neither Zohary or I now can guarantee that any or all species were or were not eaten in the biblical setting. I will wager that all that occurred there in those days served as bitter herbs. Zohary notes that chicory (and Reichardia) are only possible representatives of a large group of so-called edible bitter herbs in the Middle East, almost like our spring tonic greens down South. Not necessarily chicory, nor dandelion, nor endive, nor fenugreek were necessarily the most important of the biblical merorim (Arabic mureir), a general term to embrace many different species of bitter edible herbs.

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