Wild Lectionary: Purge Me with Hyssop

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Psalm 51:7b

By Laurel Dykstra

The psalmist says “purge me with hyssop” –clean me with a scrubby aromatic plant.

Mediterranean Hyssop— Hyssopus officinalis is a pungent-leafed bush with blue flowers that is used medicinally, mostly in teas as an expectorant, antiseptic and for cough relief. But the qualities that the bible ascribes to Hyssop: it grows in walls, can hold moisture, has a long, stiff stalk, has a purgative effect, appear in no one plant. Other suggested candidates for biblical Hyssop include caper, Syrian oregano, and za’atar a word which Palestinians use for a family of aromatic herbs (and the ubiquitous condiment made from their dried leaves). Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: Purge Me with Hyssop”