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Vine of Sodom

Vine of Sodom occurs only in Deut. 32:32. It is generally supposed that this passage alludes to the celebrated apples of Sodom, of which Josephus speaks, “which indeed resemble edible fruit in color, but, on being plucked by the hand, are dissolved into smoke and ashes.” It has been variously identified. Dr. Robinson pronounced in favor of the ˒ösher fruit, the Asclepias (Calotropis) procera of botanists. He says, “The fruit greatly resembles externally a large smooth apple or orange, hanging in clusters of three or four together, and when ripe is of a yellow color. It is now fair and delicious to the eye and soft to the touch; but, on being pressed or struck, it explodes with a puff, like a bladder or puff-ball, leaving in the hand only the shreds of the thin rind and a few fibres. It is indeed filled chiefly with air, which gives it the round form.” Dr. Hooker writes, “The vine of Sodom I always thought might refer to Cucumis colocynthis, which is bitter and powdery inside; the term vine would scarcely be given to any but a trailing or other plant of the habit of a vine.” His remark that the term vine must refer to some plant of the habit of a vine is conclusive against the claims of all the plants hitherto identified with the vine of Sodom.