This blog post is about Mandrakes in the Bible
Mandrakes in the Bible have an interesting history.
Yep! the story of the mandrake is woven throughout the Bible, making it an important part of religious history and culture!
In this blog post, you’ll learn what exactly mandrakes are in the Bible, their role and importance, and how they are still used in modern times.
So buckle up let me take you on a journey through the mysterious world of mandrakes in the Bible!
P.S. For those curious about why I picked this topic…LOL. I completed a Bible Study on Jacob, and this particular plant intrigued me. Hence, this blog post was birthed.❤️
Ready? Let’s go!
What is a mandrake?
Mandrakes, also known as Mandragora officinarum, are a perennial herbaceous plant.
It is a plant with a paradox because it is said to “cure” and has healing properties yet it is considered “poisonous” and some myths claim it can cause death.
Other names of the mandrake
The plant’s common name “love apple” comes from its heart-shaped fruits.
Its other common name “plant human” comes from its root system, which has been said to look like a small person.😲
According to U.S Forest Service, they also list the following names:
- Abu’l-ruh (Old Arabic, “master of the life breath”)
- Satan’s apple
- Circe’s plant.
What does a Mandrake look like?
Mandrakes get their distinctive features by growing up to 2 feet in height with large leaves that are often called “hairy” because they are covered with short hairs.
They have white or violet bell-shaped flowers that become yellowish-green berries when they are ripe.
When these berries become fully ripe, their fragrance becomes sweet and musky, often resembling an earthly odor.
(Source: Britannica & USDA)
Where do mandrakes grow?
It is part of the Nightshade family and is native to Southern Europe, North Africa, and parts of West Asia.
There are various mandrake species that can be harvested.
They start blooming around springtime and into autumn months when the fruits and leaves are full of energy. (Source: US Forest Service)
In as much as this is quite strange…I’m choosing not to water down the uses of this plant. This will help us understand the Bible stories better…
According to Biblical and Historical writings, mandrakes were believed to bring fertility, protection from evil spirits, good luck (people made amulets from them) and longevity.
As an herb, mandrakes were used in a variety of rituals, from love spells to divination.😲
To date, other worldly religions see this plant as sacred and often list it in the top 13 plants in their beliefs.
As a quick overview, the mandrake root extract has been used throughout history for both humans and livestock as a:
- Medicinal tinctures
- Herbal remedies
- Antispasmodic (used to relieve muscle spasms)
- It’s also believed to be useful against skin diseases and warts.
NB: It’s important to note that mandrakes are known to have hallucinogenic properties.
Why did Rachel want mandrakes in the Bible?
Rachel, mother of Joseph and Benjamin in the Bible, was a pagan in her past. She had left her homeland on an arduous journey to follow her new husband Jacob.
As she settled into his camp, Rachel brought with her some important items that held special significance to her: the household gods of Laban, which were idols and images representing various deities worshipped by pagans. (Genesis 31:19)
Rachel’s decision to keep these gods despite their being forbidden by God shows how deeply rooted in paganism she still was at the time.
In fact, her deep-rooted past can be seen when Reuben went out into the wheat fields and discovered some mandrakes (Genesis 30:14).
Reuben’s recognition of the mandrake is particularly noteworthy because it indicates a high level of familiarity with the plant, suggesting he knew its purpose and could distinguish it from other plants or even weeds.
Upon giving his mother Leah the mandrakes, Rachel asked Leah for the mandrakes, saying “give me some of your son’s mandrakes” (Genesis 30:14-16). Rachel is so desperate for them and does a barter trade with Leah. She trades her time with Jacob for the mandrakes…(Genesis 30:15-16)
This could indicate that Rachel too was aware of what using these plants could do – which would be in line with her continued interest in pagan practices.
Furthermore, when God granted her desire to conceive and bear children with Jacob, this may have been seen as an indication of God’s mercy towards her despite her clinging onto pagan traditions.
Genesis 29:31, “When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.”
Genesis 30:22, “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.”
This shows us that both Leah and Rachel’s conception were a “gift from the Lord.” …(not from mandrakes but God!)
As you can see, this entire story highlights how mandrakes were believed to possess fertility-enhancing properties.
What is a mandrake in mythology?
In some cultures people believe that harvesting mandrakes can be dangerous since it was thought that if one pulled the plant out of the ground it would scream, and this sound could cause death or madness.
Today, although still somewhat rare, mandrakes are grown in various places, from personal gardens to herbalists’ fields. And although most people today don’t believe pulling a mandrake to be life-threatening, harvesting gardeners state that it should still be cautiously approached as the plant is poisonous if ingested and can irritate the skin if handled too roughly.
Let’s talk about mandrakes in film because it overlaps with this mythology into it…
Mandrake as portrayed in the film (Harry Potter)
Mainstream media has a tendency to borrow references from seemingly unrelated sources and use them in their stories.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the fellowship visits the home of a Witch in Endor (Endor was also referred to as Middle-Earth).
Coincidentally, There is also a Witch from the Bible who was asked to summon up the spirit of Samuel in order to answer King Saul’s questions.
1 Samuel 28:7 So Saul instructed his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so that I may go to her and inquire of her.” His servants replied to him, “There is a woman who is a medium in Endor.”
While this reference may seem insignificant at first glance, it speaks volumes about how mainstream media perceives and portrays non-Christian beliefs. Sometimes their depictions can be blatant mockery of Christianity OR full-on endorsements of non-Christian values.
This can be seen with the Harry Potter series…let’s discuss this.
Harry Potter is a popular fantasy book and movie series that follows the life of the young wizard, Harry Potter. While these books and movies have an incredibly large fan base, they also contain some dark themes such as witchcraft and magic, which do not align with Christian values.
One element of Harry Potter that has been discussed in depth is Mandrake Potting. In Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, mandrakes are used to revive petrified people.🤔
As discussed earlier, the mystical power attributed to mandrakes dates all the way back to ancient times, when it was widely accepted as having magical properties.
This plant was often associated with pagan rituals or traditions due to its supposed supernatural abilities. Its use in this film only reinforces this idea and adds to the mythology of Harry Potter.
As a Christian, I would ask you to think of all the mainstream films that take certain themes, names, items (i.e., crystals), and stories as an endorsement of pagan practices and a celebration of something not aligned with God’s word. There are too many shows and films to analyze…but I thought I should mention it.
Disclaimer: I am by no means saying you don’t watch these films… I’m just saying let your Spiritual eyes be open, guard you gates, and I pray that the Lord gives you discernment in everything.
Mandrakes in Songs of Solomon
Song of Solomon 7:13 There the mandrakes give off their fragrance, and the finest fruits are at our door, new delights as well as old, which I have saved for you, my lover.
Now here’s the thing…these pagan traditions surrounding mandrakes meant that they were seen as a powerful aphrodisiac, capable of stimulating desire and enchantment between two people.
Now let me unpack King Solomon for a little bit…
Solomon was compromised!
Solomon is known for being the wisest man. He was anointed as King of Israel by God, and had a great reign in leading his people. However, Solomon also made some mistakes that cost him dearly.
One such mistake was taking multiple wives from various nations – something that God specifically prohibited in Deuteronomy 17:16-17.
In 1 Kings 11:3-4, we read that “…he had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines; and his wives led him astray.” This decision proved to be a costly mistake as it laid the foundation for Solomon’s greatest downfall – idolatry.
In 1 Kings 11:6, it is reported that he “did evil in the sight of the Lord” and went after false gods. This included building altars to these idols, which suggests an awareness and acceptance of their superstitious practices.
Then later in 1 Kings 11:9-10, we read that “The Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command.”
Not only did Solomon disobey God’s command, but he also allowed his idolatrous wives to influence him, leading to the building of temples for their false gods and the offering of sacrifices. This would eventually lead to a divided kingdom and the end of Solomon’s reign as king of Israel.
Ultimately, Solomon was a great leader with remarkable wisdom. Unfortunately, his failure to maintain his faith and trust in God led to some costly mistakes. His example serves as a reminder that even the wisest of men can make foolish decisions when they turn away from God’s will.
Back to the mandrakes…
Given that we know Solomon was compromised, it should not be surprising, then, that he would also have familiarity with the superstitious beliefs about mandrakes, a plant used primarily by pagans for its supposed medicinal or magical properties.
The inclusion of mandrakes in Solomon’s romantic encounter with his new wife can thus be seen as a symbol of how far he had strayed from God’s will—and how much he had given himself over to the idolatrous beliefs and customs of the pagans who surrounded him. It is a cautionary tale about the power of temptation and how it can lead even the most powerful person astray.
P.S. I have a section where I talk about Solomon in my post on discernment.
My final thoughts on mandrakes in the Bible…
Mandrakes are sometimes seen as a symbol of evil and other times embraced as a powerful herb for healing.
The truth is that they are not inherently evil; in fact…everything that God made was good.
Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
However, it’s our trust in them rather than God that can lead us astray.
From a Christian perspective, allowing something other than God to come before Him can be considered an act of idolatry, which is forbidden in scripture.
People can make idols of anything and anyone.
The Bible commands us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
This means that we should put our trust in Him alone, not anything else – no matter how seemingly harmless or innocuous it may be.
By relying on something other than God for protection, healing, love, or guidance… we are not showing our trust in God. He alone is the source of peace and security that cannot be found anywhere else. Trying to find answers elsewhere will only lead us astray.
Therefore, it’s important to recognize the power of trusting in Him above all else. By holding fast to faith in God, we can be sure that our trust is placed in the right place.
So while mandrakes are not evil in and of themselves, it’s important to remember that God should always come first. Putting anything else before Him is a violation of His commandment and will ultimately lead us away from His will instead of toward it.
And that’s it folks, mandrakes in the Bible
In conclusion, the mystery (positive and negative) surrounding mandrakes has captivated people for centuries. This is undeniable.
This mystery has truly inspired and influenced stories and mythologies in religion, film and literature.
Whether mandrakes are truly supernatural or not is still open to debate; however, their role in Biblical stories remains enigmatic and intriguing.
Scholars continue to investigate their possible significance within the Bible, and while we may never know all of the truth behind them, I find this rather interesting.
Lastly, I believe that mandrakes show us the profound truth of the Bible, highlighting how mysteries and certain themes can be unearthed if we are keen to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.
Let’s not forget… a “random” plant like a mandrake mentioned in the Bible…is not so random.
P.S. If you are interested in reading a few interesting pages on this plant and other mythologies, please read Lowe and Moldenke’s 1924 copy of “Plants of the Bible.” Mandrakes is on page 132 and available for free via HathiTrust Digital Library.
Another interesting read is Charles Brewster Randolph’s 1905 free article titled, “The Mandragora of the Ancients in Folk-Lore and Medicine” via Jstor. He talks of other mythologies by Greek philosopher Theophrastus and Pliny the Elder. The article is really detailed and some of the things there are so bizarre and honestly not worth repeating. LOL…I guess I’m all tapped out writing this blog post.😂. It’s home time for me…hehehe.
Other “tree-rific”🌲or “plant-astic” posts by me LOL:
Hyssop in the Bible: Fascinating Facts!
4 thoughts on “Mandrakes in the Bible | Thought-Provoking!”
Wow, wow, wow. This post is truly eye-opening, interesting and strangely relieving to read. I love seeing biblical references revealed in our modern culture! I thank our God for your keen gift!
Hello my dear friend, glad to hear from you. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind and gracious comment. I appreciate you sooo much. This means a lot to me. ❤️ Hearts and Hugs, Heather
Very insightful. Loved reading it and learning more about mandrake.
Hello there, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate you so much. Hearts and hugs, Heather