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Marsh Mallows

In the modern-day world, a "marshmallow" usually refers to a spongy candy produced from sugar, gelatin and corn syrup, dusted with powdered sugar. The people of Bible History knew a different sort of "marsh mallow," a variety of purslane (a herbaceous plant having fleshy succulent leaves) found along some of the salt marshes of The Salt Sea (i.e. the Dead Sea) and The Mediterranean Sea.

The English word mallow, meaning soft (mellow is the same word) is used to translate the Hebrew word pronounced mal-loo-akh, apparently only because they sound similar. The Hebrew word means saltiness. Some other translations use "saltwort" rather than "mallows," as in Job 30:4:

"30:4 Who cut up mallows by the bushes" (KJV)

"30:4 They pick mallow and the leaves of bushes" (RSV)

"30:4 They gnaw herbs in the wold ["wold" means open country], gathering saltwort under bushes" (Moffatt)

"30:4 They pluck saltwort and bitter leaves" (Complete Jewish Bible)

"For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness ... Who cut up mallows by the bushes"

The only reference to "mallows" in the Holy Scriptures is in Job where it is used to refer to the outcasts of the open country who were gleefully mocking Job's troubles i.e. "30:8 They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth. 30:9 And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword" (Job 30:8-9 KJV)


"30:1 But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock. 30:2 Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?

30:3 For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste. 30:4 Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.

30:5 They were driven forth from among men, they cried after them as after a thief; 30:6 To dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks. 30:7 Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together. 30:8 They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth. 30:9 And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword. 30:10 They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face. 30:11 Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me.

30:12 Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction. 30:13 They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no helper. 30:14 They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters: in the desolation they rolled themselves upon me. 30:15 Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind: and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.

30:16 And now my soul [see Where Is Your Soul?] is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. 30:17 My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest. 30:18 By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat. 30:19 He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes.

30:20 I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not. 30:21 Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me. 30:22 Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it, and dissolvest my substance. 30:23 For I know that thou wilt bring me to death [see What Happens When You Die?], and to the house appointed for all living. 30:24 Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave [see Sheol and Hades], though they cry in his destruction.

30:25 Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor? 30:26 When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. 30:27 My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me. 30:28 I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation.

30:29 I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. 30:30 My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat. 30:31 My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep." (Job 30:1-31 KJV)

Fact Finder: What were the "dragons" referred to above in Job 30:29?
See Dragons

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