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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]


(1) ’çlâh ,   Genesis 35:4 ,   Judges 6:11;   Judges 6:19 ,   2 Samuel 18:9 f.,   2 Samuel 18:14 , 1Ki 13:14 ,   1 Chronicles 10:12 ,   Isaiah 1:30 ,   Ezekiel 6:13 ,   Hosea 4:13; (Vale of) Elah’ [RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘terebinth’],   1 Samuel 17:2; 1Sa 17:19;   1 Samuel 21:9 ,   Isaiah 6:13 [AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘teil tree’]; ’çlâh elsewhere always tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ‘oak’ [RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘terebinth’]; ’allâh , a slight variant,   Joshua 24:26 .

2 . ’çlîrn , perhaps pi. of çlâh ,   Isaiah 1:29 , ‘oaks’ [RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘terebinths’]   Isaiah 57:5 [AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘idols,’ mg. ‘oaks,’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘oaks’]   Isaiah 61:3 ‘trees.’ The meaning of ’çlîm in   Ezekiel 31:14 is obscure, if the text be correct. These words, ’çlâh , ’allâh , and ’çlîm , all apparently refer to the terebinth (wh. see).

3 . ’allôn , cannot be the same as ’çlâh , because it occurs with it in   Isaiah 6:13 ,   Hosea 4:13; see also   Genesis 35:8 ,   Isaiah 44:14 ,   Amos 2:9 . In   Isaiah 2:13 ,   Ezekiel 27:8 ,   Zechariah 11:2 the ‘allônîm (‘oaks’) of Bashan are mentioned. In   Joshua 19:33 (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) ’allôn is treated as a proper name.

4 . ’çlôn , probably merely a variation of ’allôn , is in   Genesis 12:8;   Genesis 13:18;   Genesis 14:13;   Genesis 18:1 ,   Deuteronomy 11:30 ,   Judges 4:11;   Judges 9:6; Jdg 9:37 ,   1 Samuel 10:3 (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ‘plain’ or ‘plains,’ but in RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘oak’ or oaks,’ mg. ‘terebinth’ or ‘terebinths.’ ‘allôn and ’çlôn apparently refer to the oak.

Oaks have always been relatively plentiful in Palestine-Even to-day, in spite of the most reckless destruction, groves of oaks survive on Carmel, Tabor, around Banias, and in ancient Bashan; while whole miles of country are covered with shrub-like oaks produced from the roots of trees destroyed every few years for fuel. Among the nine recognized varieties of oak in Syria, the evergreen Quercus coccifera or ‘holm oak’ is the finest it is often 30 to 35 feet high. Its preservation is usually due to its being situated at some sacred wely . ‘Abraham’s oak’ at Hebron is of this kind. Other common oaks are the Valonia oak ( Q. Ægilops ), which has large acorns with prickly cups, much valued for dyeing; and the Oriental gall oak ( Q. cerris ), a comparatively insignificant tree, especially noticeable for the variety of galls which grow on it. Both these latter are deciduous, the leaves falling from late autumn to early spring. Oak wood is used for tanning skin bottles and also as fuel, while the acorn cups of the Valonia oak and the galls of the various oak trees are both important articles of commerce in N. Syria.

E. W. G. Masterman.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Eeyl , from Uwl "strong," as the Latin Robur . The terebinth or turpentine tree. Eloth, Elim, etc., take their name hence; so for "teil tree" ( Isaiah 6:13;  Isaiah 1:29), and for "elms" ( Hosea 4:13), Eelah ; Allon is the "oaks"; also Eelon is "the oak." The Quercus Psedo-Coccifera is the most abundant in Palestine, covering Carmel with dense brushwood eight to twelve feet high. Its roots are dug up as fuel in the valleys S. of Lebanon, where the living tree is no longer to be seen. Abram's oak near Hebron is of this species, still flourishing in the midst of a field, the stock 23 ft. in girth, and the branch spreading over a circle 90 ft. in diameter.

It is probably sprung from some far back offshoot of the original grove under which he pitched his tent ( Genesis 13:18), "Abram dwelt at the oaks of Mamre in Hebron." The Quercus Aegilops , or "prickly cupped Valonia oak", is found on the hills E. of Nazareth and Tabor. The Quercus Infectoria or "dyeing oak" is seldom higher than 30 ft., growing on the eastern sides of Lebanon and the hills of Galilee; its gall-nuts, formed by the puncture of an insect, contain tannin and gallic acid used for dyeing and ink. Dr. Hooker conjectures the two aegilops to represent the "oaks of Bashan" ( Isaiah 2:13). Deborah was buried under an oak ( Genesis 35:8). So Saul ( 1 Samuel 31:13). Idolaters sacrificed under oaks ( Isaiah 1:29). Under one Joshua set up a pillar at Shechem to commemorate the nation's covenant with God ( Joshua 24:26). The "tree" in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Daniel 4) is 'Ilan , any "strong tree".

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

As many as six varieties of the oak are found in Palestine. Dr. Robinson speaks of one at Hebron which had a trunk twenty-two and a half feet in circumference; and saw the crests and sides of the hills beyond the Jordan still clothed, as in ancient times, with magnificent oaks,  Isaiah 2:13   Zechariah 11:2 . The oak is often referred to in Scripture,  Genesis 35:8   Isaiah 44:14   Amos 2:9 . There is, however, a second Hebrew word often translated "oak," which is supposed to denote the terebinth or turpentine-tree, called butm by the Arabs,  Genesis 35:4   Judges 6:11,19   2 Samuel 18:9,14 . It is translated "elm" in  Hosea 4.13 , and "teil-tree" in  Isaiah 6:13 , in which passages the true oak is also mentioned. In many passages where "plain" or "plains" occurs, we should probably understand "terebinth" or "a grove of terebinths,"  Genesis 12:6   13:18   14:13   18:1   Deuteronomy 11:30   Judges 9:6 .

This tree was found in all countries around the Mediterranean, and in Palestine grew to a large size. It was very long-lived. For many ages after Christ, a tree of this kind near Heron was superstitiously venerated as one of those under which Abraham dwelt at Mamre. Under the welcome shade of oaks and other large trees many public affairs were transacted; sacrifices were offered, courts were held, and kings were crowned,  Joshua 24:26   Judges 6:11,19   9:6 . See Grove

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [4]

The religious veneration paid to this tree by the original natives of our island in the time of the Druids, is well known to every reader of British history. We have reason to think that this veneration was brought from the east; and that the Druids did no more than transfer the sentiments their progenitors had received in oriental countries. It should appear that the Patriarch Abraham resided under an oak, or a grove of oaks, which our translators render the plain of Mamre; and that he planted a grove of this tree,  Genesis 13:18 . In fact, since in hot countries nothing is more desirable than shade, nothing more refreshing than the shade of a tree, we may easily suppose the inhabitants would resort for such enjoyment to

Where'er the oak's thick branches spread

A deeper, darker shade.

Oaks, and groves of oaks, were esteemed proper places for religious services; altars were set up under them,  Joshua 24:26; and, probably, in the east as well as in the west, appointments to meet at conspicuous oaks were made, and many affairs were transacted or treated of under their shade, as we read in Homer, Theocritus, and other poets. It was common among the Hebrews to sit under oaks,  Judges 6:11;  1 Kings 13:14 . Jacob buried idolatrous images under an oak,  Genesis 35:4; and Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, was buried under one of these trees,  Genesis 35:8 . See  1 Chronicles 10:12 . Abimelech was made king under an oak,  Judges 9:6 . Idolatry was practised under oaks,  Isaiah 1:29;  Isaiah 57:5;  Hosea 4:13 . Idols were made of oaks,  Isaiah 44:14 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

  • '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 ( Isaiah 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 )

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Oak'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/o/oak.html. 1897.

  • Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

    There are four Hebrew words so translated, but they are all apparentlyfrom the same root, signifying 'strong, hardy,' and are mostly applied to the oak, which lives to a great age. Three species of the Quercus are known in Palestine, the pseudo-coccifera, aegilops, and infectoria. It is symbolical of strength, and affords shade from the heat of the sun.  Genesis 35:8;  Joshua 24:26;  Isaiah 1:29;  Isaiah 2:13;  Ezekiel 27:6;  Hosea 4:13;  Amos 2:9;  Zechariah 11:2 . The word elah is judged to refer to the terebinth (pistacia terebinthus), though generally translated oak.  Genesis 35:4;  Judges 6:11,19;  2 Samuel 18:9-14;  1 Kings 13:14;  1 Chronicles 10:12;  Isaiah 1:30;  Ezekiel 6:13 .

    Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [7]

     Genesis 35:8 (c) Deborah, the nurse, was buried under an oak tree, and from this we notice that usually the oak tree is a type of the bitterness of sorrow because of death. Notice that in  Joshua 24:26 that great leader made a covenant with the people under an oak tree, and then died as we read in  Joshua 24:29. Notice also that the prophet sat under an oak tree in1Ki  13:14, and immediately thereafter he died, as recorded in1Ki  13:24. Absalom was caught by his head in an oak tree,  2 Samuel 18:9. Saul and his sons were buried under an oak tree,  1 Chronicles 10:12. In  Zechariah 11:2 the oaks are said to howl because of death. This verse was used as a text at the funeral of Mr. Spurgeon.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary [8]

    Oak. ( Hebrew, Strong). 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. - Editor). Two oaks, Quercus pseudo-coccifera and Quercus 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.

    Webster's Dictionary [9]

    (1): ( n.) Any tree or shrub of the genus Quercus. The oaks have alternate leaves, often variously lobed, and staminate flowers in catkins. The fruit is a smooth nut, called an acorn, which is more or less inclosed in a scaly involucre called the cup or cupule. There are now recognized about three hundred species, of which nearly fifty occur in the United States, the rest in Europe, Asia, and the other parts of North America, a very few barely reaching the northern parts of South America and Africa. Many of the oaks form forest trees of grand proportions and live many centuries. The wood is usually hard and tough, and provided with conspicuous medullary rays, forming the silver grain.

    (2): ( n.) The strong wood or timber of the oak.

    King James Dictionary [10]

    OAK, n. It is probably that the first syllable, oak, was originally an adjective expressing some quality, as hard or strong, and by the disuse of tree, oak became the name of the tree.

    A tree of the genus Quercus, or rather the popular name of the genus itself, of which there are several species. The white oak grows to a great size, and furnishes a most valuable timber but the live oak of the United States is the most durable timber for ships. In Hartford still stands the venerable oak, in the hollow stem of which was concealed and preserved the colonial charter of Connecticut, when Sir E. Andros, by authority of a writ of quo warranto from the British crown, attempted to obtain possession of it, in 1687. As it was then a large tree, it must now be nearly three hundred years old.

    People's Dictionary of the Bible [11]

    Oak, Strong.  Genesis 35:4. No less than six Hebrew words are represented by oak in the A. V. Sometimes, evidently, the terebinth, elm, or teil tree is intended; at others, the oak. There are a number of varieties of oak in Palestine.  Hosea 4:13;  Judges 6:11;  Isaiah 1:30;  Amos 2:9.

    Holman Bible Dictionary [12]

    Plants In The Bible

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

    ōk  : 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:

    The words and references are as follows:

    (1) אלה , ' ēlāh (in the Septuagint usually τερέβινθος , terébinthos . in Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) terebinthus , or, more commonly, quercus ) (  Genesis 35:4;  Judges 6:11 ,  Judges 6:19;  2 Samuel 18:9 ,  2 Samuel 18:10 ,  2 Samuel 18:14;  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 'allōn , translated "oaks." "Vale of Elah" (margin "the Terebinth") is found in  1 Samuel 17:2 ,  1 Samuel 17:19;  1 Samuel 21:9 . The expression in  Isaiah 1:30 , "whose leaf fadeth," is more appropriate to the terebinth than the oak (see below).

    (2) אלּה , 'allāh ( terebinthos , quercus (Vulgate)), apparently a slight variant for 'ēlāh  ; only in   Joshua 24:26;  Genesis 35:4 ( 'ēlāh ) and in  Judges 9:6 ( 'ēlōn ).

    (3) אלים , 'ēlı̄m or אילים , 'eylı̄m , perhaps plural of 'ēlāh 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"; איל , 'ēl , in El-paran Septuagint terebinthos ) ( Genesis 14:6 ), probably means the "tree" or "terebinth" of Paran. Celsius ( Hierob . 1, 34 ff) argues at length that the above words apply well to the Terebinth (which see) in all the passages in which they occur.

    (4) אלון , 'ēlōn (usually δρῦς , drús , "oak"), in   Genesis 12:6;  Genesis 13:18;  Genesis 14:13;  Genesis 18:1;  Deuteronomy 11:30;  Joshua 19:33;  Judges 4:11;  Judges 9:6 ,  Judges 9:37;  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 .

    (5) אלּון , 'allōn (commonly δρῦς , drús , or βάλανος , bálanos ), in   Genesis 35:8 (compare   Genesis 35:4 );  Hosea 4:13;  Isaiah 6:13 , is contrasted with 'ēlāh , showing that 'allōn and 'ēlāh 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 Ballût , 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 Ballût , 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 Mellût , 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 Sindiān . 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 .

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [14]

    In our version various words are rendered by 'oak,' particularly Alah, which more probably denotes the terebinth-tree. The oak is, in fact, less frequently mentioned in the original than in the A.V., where it occurs so often as to suggest that the oak is as conspicuous and as common in Palestine as in this country. But in Syria oaks are by no means common, except in hilly regions, where the elevation gives the effect of a more northern climate; and even in such circumstances it does not attain the grandeur in which it often appears in our latitudes. Indeed, Syria has not the species which forms the glory of our own forests. The 'oaks of Bashan' are in Scripture mentioned with peculiar distinction (;; ), as if in the hills beyond the Jordan the oaks had been more abundant and of larger growth than elsewhere. This is the case even at the present day. In the hilly regions of Bashan and Gilead, Burckhardt repeatedly mentions forests of thick oaks—thicker than any forests which he had seen in Syria. Oaks of low stature are frequent on the hills and plains near the sources of the Jordan, and in the lower slopes of Lebanon. Lord Lindsay describes the hills of northern Judea about Hebron as covered to the top with low shrubs of the prickly oak. Prickly and evergreen oaks occur between Samaria and Mount Carmel, and on the banks of the Kishon. The thick trees which cover Mount Tabor are composed chiefly of oaks and pistachio-trees.

    The species of oak found in Palestine are,

    The Evergreen Oak. This is a tall but not wide-spreading tree, and the timber being very hard, is much used for purposes in which compactness and durability are required.

    The Holly-leaved Montpelier Oak, another evergreen. This tree also, as its name imports, is a native of Southern Europe, and is markedly distinguished from the former by its numerous straggling branches and the thick underdown of its leaves.

    The Hairy-cupped Oak, so called from the bristly appearance of the calyx. It grows to a considerable size, and furnishes an excellent timber, much used by the Turks in the building of ships and houses.

    The Great Prickly-cupped Oak, which takes its name from its large prickly calyx. This species is common in the Levant, where it is a handsome tree, which it is not in our ungenial climate, though it has long been cultivated. The wood of this species is of little worth; but its acorns form the valonia of commerce, of which 150,000 cwt. are yearly imported into this country for the use of tanners.

    The Kermes Oak takes its name from an insect (kermes, of the genus coccus) which adheres to the branches of this bushy evergreen shrub, in the form of small reddish balls about the size of a pea. This affords a crimson dye, formerly celebrated, but now superseded by cochineal. This dye was used by the ancient Hebrews.

    From the hints of travelers there appear to be some other species of oaks in Palestine, but their information is not sufficiently distinct to enable us to identify them.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

    Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Oak'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/o/oak.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.