Notes Nettle

Therefore as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.

Zephaniah 2:9 (KJV)

"Therefore, as I live," says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "Moab shall become like Sodom, and the Ammonites like Gomor'rah, a land possessed by nettles and salt pits, and a waste for ever. The remnant of my people shall plunder them, and the survivors of my nation shall possess them."

Zephaniah 2:9 (RSV)

"Therefore, as I am alive," is the utterance of Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, "Mo'ab herself will become just like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomor'rah, a place possessed by nettles and a salt pit, and a desolate waste, even to time indefinite. The remaining ones of my people will plunder them, and the remnant of my nation will take possession of them."

Zephaniah 2:9 (NWT)

Yes, it is nettles in all three versions I have on hand (KJV, RSV, and NWT). So they all agree that it is nettles. As to which species, lacking voucher specimens, I cannot outguess Michael Zohary, Israeli botanist, who tends to rule out the nettle I know best, Urtica dioica, questionably reported from Jericho. He speculates that it is one of the Israeli species he reports in the Flora of Palestine.

• Stipules, 2 on each node (each of 1 connate pair), green:

• — Pistillate racemes globular, long stalked; leaves ovate. tp 7 cm wide: U. pilulifera

• — Bisexual racemes spicate; leaves narrower, lanceolate to ovate: U. urens

• Stipules, 4 on each node, membranous:

• — Annuals no more than 50 cm tall; staminate rhachis winged: U. dubia

• — Perennials 70 to 100 cm tall; staminate rhachis wingless: U. hulensis

Allen and Hatfield say that no plants, except perhaps dandelion, dock, and elder, are as important medicinally as the nettle in the British Isles. Such feelings may underline the rhyme: "Three nettles in May keeps all diseases away" (AAH). MAD entries may apply as well to Urtica urens, the smaller dog nettle. Ditto for EFS entries. I doubt that many of the narrators, scribes, or translators of the Bible recognized the intricate differences among the nettles, the Urtica dioica, or the four closely related species cited by Zohary (HP1). So I suggest that the Zohary names cited below could apply to any of the species here mentioned. The North African names are similarly merged, but were referred to as U. urens (Small Nettle) or U. pilulifera (Roman Nettle).

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