As we enter the new year we often reflect about life cycles around us. Nature constantly changes in front of our eyes, bringing us sights of blooming and blossom followed by fall with its colorful changes. A very noticeable change comes in the form of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Nowadays, when we can obtain almost all kinds of produce year round, we may forget this important element of human nurture that our forefathers relied on. The Bible draws a parallel between the appointed cycles in nature and a righteous man:
“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season”
In the next few weeks we’ll go through the Hebrew names of fruit and vegetables that are mentioned in the Bible. We’ll skip a few that we don’t recognize today, and will add a few that are common today, but were not mentioned in scriptures.
The word pey•rot is the plural p’•ri, fruit.
Many languages have adopted this word from Hebrew. Let’s start with the English word ‘fruit.’ As soon as you begin to learn Hebrew you learn that Hebrew has one letter for both F and P. It is the letter ‘pey,’ or as some pronounce it ‘peh.’ If you look at p’•ri and ‘fruit’ you see at once that the three Hebrew consonants P (F), R, and I also appear in the English word. In French it sounds like ‘fri;’ in Italian it is ‘frutta;’ in Spanish and Português, ‘Fruto;’ in German ‘Frucht,’ and so on.
This word is identical in all languages: fruit, p’ri, is the general name for anything growing or grown and used for human food or animal feed. It is the part of the plant containing the seed or seeds and that matures to be ripe and edible. A few months ago, we showed several examples of how ‘fruit’ is also used as a metaphor that describes result or product (mostly positive) of effort, action, and so on. Biblical Hebrew has added an array of many more defined uses to this metaphor that influenced the literature, philosophy, and culture of many nations by adopting the biblical literal narrative to their lingual treasure.
The word ye•ra•kot is the plural ye•rek, a vegetable. The source of this name is rather simple, although it is a generalization. ‘Yerek’ comes from the work ‘yarok,’ which means ‘green’ in Hebrew.