This post is all about hyssop in the Bible
Did you know that hyssop is found throughout the Bible? It is an interesting herb with a long history. This post will explore what hyssop is, what it is used for, and how it is significant in the Bible.
We will also look at some bible verses that mention hyssop and discuss what they represent.
In short, I will be sharing lots of exciting information on this fascinating herb!
Ready? Let’s go…
What is hyssop?
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is a small, bushy herb native to the Mediterranean region and a member of the mint family. It grows to be about 60 cm tall (nearly two feet in height).
The hyssop plant has been known by many different names, such as hyssop, yssop, ishop, and hysope.
As far as the herb itself, the leaves are narrow and pointed, and the flowers are small and tubular. The flowers are bluish-purple and some species also have pink, red, or white flowers.
Some people say that it has a pleasantly spicy flavor that is refreshing and uplifting. While others say, the hyssop plant has a strong smell that can be smelled from a distance. I guess it depends on everyone’s preference. It is important to note that in Hebrew, Hyssop means, Ezob, meaning “bitter.”
The hyssop plant is found in many parts of the world. It grows well in warm climates and can be found in gardens, fields, and even on the side of the road. The hyssop plant is hardy and can survive in many different environments. Hyssop does not tolerate wet soils or frost well, so it is best to plant it in late spring or early summer.
Hyssop is a small, bushy herb that can be easily grown at home. It typically reaches a height of about 12 inches and has a duration of about three months. The ideal conditions for hyssop growth include full sun and well-drained soil.
As you find out much later, these flowers are said to be a sign of hope and new beginnings.
What is hyssop used for?
Hyssop has many beneficial properties and is a valuable herb used in various cultures from biblical times to date.
Here are a few uses for hyssop:
- Purification: hyssop can be used to purify people, places, and things. It was used in the Old Testament to cleanse lepers (Leviticus 14:1-7) and prepare the tabernacle for use. Although most Catholic churches now use the aspergillum (an instrument for sprinkling holy water), it was known that hyssop was historically used for baptism, purification and cleansing.
- Healing: hyssop has been used for centuries to treat various medical conditions. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibacterial. It is said to treat respiratory problems, digestive problems, and skin infections.
- Essential oils: The hyssop is used to make essential oils. It is said to contain Camphor, which is responsible for the plant’s antiseptic and disinfectant properties.
- Aromatherapy: Hyssop oil is used in aromatherapy.
- Commercial Purposes: commercial mouthwashes and toothpaste.
- Cooking: It has a pleasantly spicy flavor and is used as an herb in cooking.
What is the significance of hyssop in the Bible?
Hyssop has a powerful and essential role in the Bible. It has a long history and is mentioned numerous throughout the Bible. It is used for various purposes, including purification, healing, and protection.
It was mainly used as a purification herb or to sprinkle and as a cleansing agent in the Old Testament.
Let’s review a few Old Testament examples:
- The first mention of hyssop is in the book of Exodus. In Exodus 12:22, hyssop was used to sprinkle blood on doorposts during Passover to protect the Israelites from the plague.
- In the Old Testament, Numbers 19:18 says that hyssop is one of the plants that Aaron must use to purify people who have come into contact with a dead body.
- After King David sinned with Bathsheba, we see his repentant heart. In Psalm 51:7, David says to the Lord, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Hyssop was used here to represent spiritual cleansing, forgiveness, and mercy.
In the New Testament, hyssop was also used.
- Hyssop was present during the crucifixion; we will revisit this later in the blog post.
It is clear that the hyssop holds significant meaning for many people. It has become a symbol of spiritual cleansing, purification, and redemption.
Importance of hyssop during Passover
As stated earlier, the hyssop plant was also used in the Passover ceremony. The hyssop was used to sprinkle the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, thus protecting the Israelites from death. In Exodus 12:22, we read, “Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put it on the doorpost. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning.”
There are many theories about why hyssop was chosen for the Passover. In high school in Kenya, I took a “Christian Religious Education” class, also abbreviated C.R.E. One of the popular things we studied was that the bitterness of the herb symbolized the bitterness of slavery.
Hyssop branch at crucifixion site
One of the most famous references is when Jesus was on the cross, and he was offered vinegar to drink.
Matthew 27:48 says, “So they took a sponge, filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.”
In this instance, the vinegar represented God’s wrath. However, because it was transferred to Jesus on the hyssop branch, it symbolizes substitutionary atonement, meaning that Christ died for our sins. He took our place!
To better explain the richness and depth of what hyssop means at crucifixion… let’s revisit that the hyssop was used to sprinkle blood on doorposts during the Passover. This blood saved the Israelites from death. Later, when Jesus was crucified, hyssop was used to help Him drink water.
The hyssop is a symbol of cleansing and sacrifice. It reminds us of the Passover lamb that died so that the Israelites could be saved. And it reminds us of Jesus, who gave His life to save us all. May we always be grateful for the sacrifice that Jesus made for us!
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)
Bible Verses About Hyssop
Here are verses that directly refer to hyssop:
Exodus 12:22 (K.J.V.) And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
Leviticus 14:4 (K.J.V.) Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:
Leviticus 14:6 (K.J.V.) As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water:
Leviticus 14:49 (K.J.V.) And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:
Leviticus 14:51 (K.J.V.) And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times:
Leviticus 14:52 (K.J.V.) And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, and with the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet:
Numbers 19:6 (K.J.V.) And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
Numbers 19:18 (K.J.V.) And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave:
1 Kings 4:33 (K.J.V.) And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.
Psalm 51:7 (K.J.V.) Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
John 19:29 (K.J.V.) Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
Hebrews 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
And that’s its folks, all about hyssop in the Bible
As we approach Passover and Easter, may we remember our Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
He died on the cross for us.
The good news is that he ascended into heaven, and after our work here on earth, we will be reunited with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I leave you with this song:
What is Hyssop used for?
The hyssop plant has a long history of use in the following:
- Medicine and healing: The leaves and flowers are used to make teas, tinctures, essential oils, and extracts.
- Cooking: It has a pleasantly spicy flavor and is used as an herb in cooking.
- Spiritual and religious significance: hyssop is also mentioned in many religions as it is associated with purification and spiritual cleansing.
- Commercial Use: hyssop oil is also used in some mouthwashes and toothpaste.