The traditional rendering of "rotem" in I Kings xix. 4, 5; Ps. cxx. 4; and Job xxx. 4, adopted by Aquila and the Vulgate, and followed by the English versions; while the Septuagint seem to have been at a loss regarding the exact meaning of the Hebrew term, and either transcribe it by ῥαθμέν, or render it by the general term φυτὸν ἐρημικόν, or ξῦλον. As "rotem" is unquestionably identical with the Arabic "ratam," which means "broom" (comp. Löw, "Aramäische Pfianzennamen," p. 366), it must likewise be intended for some species of that shrub, probably the Genista rœtam (Forskal, "Flor. Eg.-Arab." lvi.), which is indigenous to the Sinaitic peninsula and to Arabia Petra, and is the most conspicuous shrub in the desert south of Palestine. Rising to a height of ten to twelve feet, and growing in clustered bushes, the broom affords a grateful shade in the desert, which fact is referred to in I Kings (comp. Vergil, "Georgics," ii. 434); while the allusion in Ps. cxx. 4 agrees with the fact that the coals of the broom burn a long time and emit an intense heat.
More difficult is the passage in Job, where the roots of the rotem are spoken of as "meat"; for, while the leaves and fruit of the broom are a favorite food of goats, the roots are inedible. It may be that the allusion is merely intended to depict extreme distress, unless for ("their meat") is to be read ("to warm themselves"; so R. V. margin; comp. Isa. xlvii. 14. "Rithmah," a place-namederived from "rotem," is mentioned in Num. xxxiii. 18.
The juniper proper, Juniperus Sabina, or savin, is assumed to be intended by "'ar'ar" (Jer. xvii. 6, xlviii. 6 [A. V. "heath"; R. V. margin, "tamarisk"]), as that is the meaning of the identical term in Arabic. This tree grows to a height of ten to fifteen feet, and abounds in the rocks of Arabia Petra.
- Balfour, Plants of the Bible, p. 50;
- Robinson, Researches, 1838, i. 203, 299; ii. 506;
- Tristram, Nat. Hist. pp. 358-359, London, 1867.