Easton's Bible Dictionary
There are six Hebrew words rendered "oak."
(1) 'El occurs only in the word El-paran ( Genesis
14:6 ). The LXX. renders by "terebinth." In the plural form this word occurs
1:29 ; 57:5 (A.V. marg. and RSV, "among the oaks"); Isaiah
61:3 ("trees"). The word properly means strongly, mighty, and hence a strong
(2) 'Elah, Genesis
35:4 , "under the oak which was by Shechem" (RSV marg., "terebinth"). Isaiah
6:13 , A.V., "teil-tree;" RSV, "terebinth." Isaiah
1:30 , RSV marg., "terebinth." Absalom in his flight was caught in the branches
of a "great oak" ( 2
Samuel 18:9 ; RSV marg., "terebinth").
(3) 'Elon, Judges
4:11 ; 9:6
(RSV, "oak;" A.V., following the Targum, "plain") properly the deciduous species
of oak shedding its foliage in autumn.
(4) 'Elan, only in Daniel
4:11 , 4:14
, rendered "tree" in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Probably some species of the oak
(5) 'Allah, Joshua
24:26 . The place here referred to is called Allon-moreh ("the oak of Moreh,"
as in RSV) in Genesis
12:6 and 35:4
(6) 'Allon, always rendered "oak." Probably the evergreen oak (called also ilex
and holm oak) is intended. The oak woods of Bashan are frequently alluded to (
2:13 ; Ezekiel
27:6 ). Three species of oaks are found in Palestine, of which the "prickly
evergreen oak" (Quercus coccifera) is the most abundant. "It covers the rocky
hills of Palestine with a dense brushwood of trees from 8 to 12 feet high, branching
from the base, thickly covered with small evergreen rigid leaves, and bearing
acorns copiously." The so-called Abraham's oak at Hebron is of this species. Tristram
says that this oak near Hebron "has for several centuries taken the place of the
once renowned terebinth which marked the site of Mamre on the other side of the
city. The terebinth existed at Mamre in the time of Vespasian, and under it the
captive Jews were sold as slaves. It disappeared about A.D. 330, and no tree now
marks the grove of Mamre. The present oak is the noblest tree in Southern Palestine,
being 23 feet in girth, and the diameter of the foliage, which is unsymmetrical,
being about 90 feet." (See HEBRON; TEIL-TREE.)
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
There is much difficulty in determining the exact meanings of the several varieties
of the term mentioned above. Sometimes, evidently, the terebinth or elm is intended
and at others the oak. There are a number of varieties of oak in Palestine. (Dr.
Robinson contends that the oak is generally intended, and that it is a very common
tree in the East. Oaks grow to a large size, reach an old age and are every way
worthy the venerable associations connected with the tree. --ED.) Two oaks, Quercus
pseudo-coccifera and Q. aegilops , are well worthy of the name of mighty trees;
though it is equally true that over a greater part of the country the oaks of
Palestine are at present merely bushes.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Several Hebrew words are so translated, but there has always been great doubt
as to which words should be translated "oak" and which "terebinth." This uncertainty
appears in the Septuagint and all through English Versions of the Bible; in recent
revisions "terebinth" has been increasingly added in the margin. All the Hebrew
words are closely allied and may originally have had simply the meaning of "tree"
but it is clear that, when the Old Testament was written, they indicated some
special kind of tree.
1. Hebrew Words and References:
(in the Septuagint usually terebinthos. in Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405
A.D.) terebinthus, or, more commonly, quercus) (Genesis 35:4; Judges 6:11,19;
2 Samuel 18:9,10,14; 1 Kings 13:14; 1 Chronicles 10:12; Isaiah 1:30; Ezekiel 6:13--in
all these margin "terebinth "). In Isaiah 6:13 (the King James Version "teil tree")
and Hosea 4:13 (the King James Version "elms") the translation is "terebinths"
because of the juxtaposition of 'allon, translated "oaks." "Vale of Elah" (margin
"the Terebinth") is found in 1 Samuel 17:2,19; 21:9. The expression in Isaiah
1:30, "whose leaf fadeth," is more appropriate to the terebinth than the oak (see
(terebinthos, quercus (Vulgate)), apparently a slight variant for 'elah; only
in Joshua 24:26; Genesis 35:4 ('elah) and in Judges 9:6 ('elon).
(3) 'elim or 'eylim,
perhaps plural of 'elah occurs in Isaiah 1:29 (margin "terebinths"); Isaiah 57:5,
margin "with idols," the King James Version "idols," margin "oaks"; Isaiah 61:3,
"trees"; Ezekiel 31:14 (text very doubtful), "height," the King James Version
margin "upon themselves"; 'el, in El-paran Septuagint terebinthos) (Genesis 14:6),
probably means the "tree" or "terebinth" of Paran. Celsius (Hierob. 1,34) argues
at length that the above words apply well to the TEREBINTH (which see) in all
the passages in which they occur.
(usually drus, "oak"), in Genesis 12:6; 13:18; 14:13; 18:1; Deuteronomy 11:30;
Joshua 19:33; Judges 4:11; 9:6,37; 1 Samuel 10:3 (the King James Version "plain");
in all these references the margin has "terebinth" or "terebinths." In Genesis
12:6; Deuteronomy 11:30 we have "oak" or "oaks" "of the teacher" (Moreh); "oak
in Zaanannim" in Judges 4:11; Joshua 19:33; the "oak of Meonenim," margin "the
augurs' oak (or, terebinth)" in Judges 9:37.
(commonly drus, or balanos), in Genesis 35:8 (compare 35:4); Hosea 4:13; Isaiah
6:13, is contrasted with 'elah, showing that 'allon and 'elah cannot be identical,
so no marginal references occur; also in Isaiah 44:14; Amos 2:9, but in all other
passages, the margin "terebinth" or "terebinths" occurs. "Oaks of Bashan" occurs
in Isaiah 2:13; Ezekiel 27:6; Zechariah 11:2.
If (1) (2) (3) refer especially to the terebinth, then (4) and (5) are probably
correctly translated "oak." If we may judge at all by present conditions, "oaks"
of Bashan is far more correct than "terebinths" of Bashan.
2. Varieties of Oak:
There are, according to Post (Flora of Palestine, 737-41), no less than 9 species
of oak (Natural Order Cupuliferae) in Syria, and he adds to these 12 sub-varieties.
Many of these have no interest except to the botanist. The following species are
widespread and distinctive:
(1) The "Turkey oak," Quercus cerris,
known in Arabic as Ballut, as its name implies, abounds all over European Turkey
and Greece and is common in Palestine. Under favorable conditions it attains to
great size, reaching as much as 60 ft. in height. It is distinguished by its large
sessile acorns with hemispherical cups covered with long, narrow, almost bristly,
scales, giving them a mossy aspect. The wood is hard and of fine grain. Galls
are common upon its branches.
(2) Quercus lusitanica (or Ballota), also known in Arabic as Ballut,
like the last is frequently found dwarfed to a bush, but, when protected, attains
a height of 30 ft. or more. The leaves are denate or crenate and last late into
the winter, but are shed before the new twigs are developed. The acorns are solitary
or few in cluster, and the cupules are more or less smooth. Galls are common,
and a variety of this species is often known as Q. infectoria, on account of its
liability to infection with galls.
(3) The Valonica oak (Q. aceglops), known in Arabic as Mellut,
has large oblong or ovate deciduous leaves, with deep serrations terminating in
a bristle-like point, and very large acorns, globular, thick cupules covered with
long reflexed scales. The cupules, known commercially as valonica, furnish one
of the richest of tanning materials.
(4) The Evergreen oak is often classed under the general name "Ilex oak" or Holm
(i.e. holly-like) oak.
Several varieties are described as occurring in Palestine. Q. ilex usually has
rather a shrublike growth, with abundant glossy, dark-green leaves, oval in shape
and more or less prickly at the margins, though sometimes entire. The cupules
of the acorns are woolly. It shows a marked predilection for the neighborhood
of the sea. The Q. coccifera (with var. Q. pseudococcifera) is known in Arabic
as Sindian. The leaves, like the last, usually are prickly. The acorns are solitary
or twin, and the hemispherical cupules are more or less velvety. On the Q. coccifera
are found the insects which make the well-known Kermes dye. These evergreen oaks
are the common trees at sacred tombs, and the once magnificent, but now dying,
"Abraham's oak" at Hebron is one of this species.
3. Oaks in Modern Palestine:
Oaks occur in all parts of Palestine, in spite of the steady ruthless destruction
which has been going on for centuries. All over Carmel, Tabor, around Banias and
in the hills to the West of Nazareth, to mention well-known localities, there
are forests of oak; great tracts of country, especially in Galilee and East of
the Jordan, are covered by a stunted brushwood which, were it not for the wood-cutter,
would grow into noble trees. Solitary oaks of magnificent proportions occur in
many parts of the land, especially upon hilltops; such trees are saved from destruction
because of their "sacred" character. To bury beneath such a tree has ever been
a favorite custom (compare Genesis 35:8; 1 Chronicles 10:12). Large trees like
these, seen often from great distances, are frequently landmarks (Joshua 19:33)
or places of meeting (compare "Oak of Tabor," 1 Samuel 10:3). The custom of heathen
worship beneath oaks or terebinths (Hosea 4:13; Ezekiel 6:13, etc.) finds its
modern counterpart in the cult of the Wely in Palestine. The oak is sometimes
connected with some historical event, as e.g. Abraham's oak of Mamre now shown
at Hebron, and "the oak of weeping," Allon bacuth, of Genesis 35:8.
E. W. G. Masterman
'allah, 'allon, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, 'elah, 'elim, 'elon, 'eylim, oak, tree