(Isa 28:25,27), the rendering of the Hebrew ketsah, "without doubt the Nigella sativa, a small annual of the order Ranunculacece, which grows wild in the Mediterranean countries, and is cultivated in Egypt and Syria for its seed." It is rendered in margin of the Revised Version "black cummin." The seeds are used as a condiment.
In Eze 4:9 this word is the rendering of the Hebrew kussemeth (incorrectly rendered "rye" in the Authorized Version of Ex 9:32; Isa 28:25, but "spelt" in the Revised Version). The reading "fitches" here is an error; it should be "spelt."
Hebrew qetsach, Septuagint melanthion, Isa 28:25,27; of the order Ranunculaceos, and suborder Helleboreos, in southern Europe and northern Africa; the black poppy. Nigella sativa, "fennel," with black seed like cummin, easily "beaten out with a staff"; used in sauces as condiment like pepper; aromatic and carminative. In Eze 4:9 kussemeth, KJV "fitches," is rather "spelt" or dhourra, less suitably rendered "rye" Ex 9:32; Isa 28:25, where the illustration from the husbandman shows that God also adapts His measures to the varying exigencies of the several cases and places, now mercy, now judgment, here punishing sooner there later (an answer to the scoff that His judgments were so slow that they would never come at all, Isa 5:19); His aim not being to destroy His people any more than the husbandman's aim in threshing is to destroy his crop.
He will not use the threshing instrument where, as in the case of the "fennel," the "staff" will suffice. From the readiness with which the ripe capsules yield their tiny black seeds (the poor man's pepper, poivrette), nothing could be so absurd as to use a threshing instrument. Even in the case of the "bread grain" which needs to be "bruised" or threshed with the grain drag or trodden out by cattle, "He will not always be threshing it"; for "because" translated "but" (compare Isa 27:7-8). Spelt has a smooth slender ear (as it were shorn, kussemeth being from kaasam "to shear"), the grains of which are so firm in the husk that they need special devices to disengage them.
1. qetsach (Isa 28:25,27), Revised Version margin 'black cummin,' the seeds of the aromatic herb Nigella sativa, commonly used to-day in Palestine as a condiment, especially on the top of loaves of bread. The contrast between the staff for the 'fitches' and the rod for the cummin is the more instructive when the great similarity of the two seeds is noticed. 2. kussemeth, Eze 4:9, in Authorized Version margin and RV 'spelt,' and in Ex 9:32; Isa 28:25 AV 'rie' and RV 'spelt.' Spelt (Triticum spelta) is an inferior kind of wheat, the grains of which are peculiarly adherent to the sheath.
E. W. G. Masterman.
2. qetsach, 'black cummin,' R.V. margin. This is doubtless the nigella sativa. Its small black seeds are aromatic, and are used as a condiment and a medicine. The prophet says they are beaten out with a rod. Isa 28:25-27.
(i.e. VETCHES), without doubt the Nigella sativa, an herbaceous annual plant belonging to the natural order Ranunculaceoe (the buttercup family), which grows in the south of Europe and in the north of Africa. Its black seeds are used like pepper, and have almost as pungent a taste. The Syrians sprinkle these seeds over their flat cakes before they are baked. [SEE RYE]
FITCHES, or VETCHES, a kind of tare. There are two words in Hebrew which our translators have rendered fitches, ??? and ????: the first occurs only in Isa 28:25,27, and must be the name of some kind of seed; but the interpreters differ much in explaining it. Jerom, Maimonides, R. David Kimchi, and the rabbins understand it of the gith; and rabbi Obdias de Bartenora expressly says that its barbarous or vulgar name is ?????. The gith was called by the Greeks ?????????, and by the Latins nigella; and is thus described by Ballester: "It is a plant commonly met with in gardens, and grows to a cubit in height, and sometimes more, according to the richness of the soil. The leaves are small like those of fennel, the flower blue, which disappearing, the ovary shows itself on the top, like that of a poppy, furnished with little horns, oblong, divided by membranes into several partitions, or cells, in which are enclosed seeds of a very black colour, not unlike those of the leek, but of a very fragrant smell." And Ausonius observes, that its pungency is equal to that of pepper: