Hyssop – What’s That?

Last week, I did the Scripture Writing Schedule on “Herbs.” Now, I know that might seem like a strange topic to study, but I found it fascinating. Most of the time when we’re reading the Bible, we just skip over the names of animals or plants that we’re not familiar with – just knowing what they are, but not knowing why they are used or specifically mentioned. While studying for Ladies’ Class (I teach the topic of what we write on each week), I found out something that I never knew about the plant “hyssop.”

Hyssop is mentioned at least twelve times in the Bible – in the Old and New Testaments. It was a sweet smelling plant from the mint family, that is a relative of oregano. It was used as a “sprinkler” in ceremonials rituals, such as cleansing the leper or purifying the unclean. The Israelites were instructed to use hyssop as a “paintbrush” in Exodus 12:22, by putting blood on the doorposts, so that the death angel would pass over that house and the first born would live. Hyssop was boiled and used in as a tea or tincture to treat sore throats, coughs, lung conditions and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Hyssop was also used at the crucifixion of Christ. In John 19:28-30, we read, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said, “I thirst.”  A jar full of sour wine stood there, they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Now a hyssop plant can grow anywhere from 6-18 inches. In all of the depictions in movies and paintings, Jesus is on a cross high above the people, but in order for the soldier to use a hyssop branch as the “pole” to reach Jesus’ mouth, the cross couldn’t have been that tall. Who knew? I had never thought about it. Instead of His feet being “head high,” if you were standing at the foot of the cross, your head would be more inline from His knees to waist. My Friends, Jesus was much closer than I ever imagined. Coming to this realization makes the hymns, “Nearer, Still Nearer” and “Nearing my God To Thee,” even more meaningful.

I’ve read about hyssop in the Bible for years, but the wonderful thing about studying God’s Word is you can always learn something new. I love the thought of Jesus being so close when He gave that ultimate sacrifice. Oh, how we are simply blessed, Courtney

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1 thought on “Hyssop – What’s That?

  1. Hyssop contains a natural antibacterial called Thymol. That is why it was used in the water of purification in Numbers 19. It kills bacteria one would encounter touching a dead body and/or blood. Thymol is still used in mouthwash today.

    This is a great example of medical foreknowledge, which proves the miraculous and inerrant inspiration of Scripture.

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