FERTILITY AND STERILITY
FERTILITY AND STERILITY Ancient Hebrew notions-The tomatoes in the Old Testament-A heavenly medicant for fertility-A modern Jewish method-Jewish superstitionsSterility, a cause for divorce-Arabian and Albanian customs-The Koran on fertility and sterility-Instances of the famed fertility of oriental rulersMenace of sterility as cause for an uprising-Advice of the Turk Omer Haleby-Superstitious methods for becoming fertile-Bosnian, Serbian, Albanian, and Syrian customs-The pomegranate-The tree of fertility Oil the Hermon-The apijun-leaf in Bosnia-Bosnian methods-Persian methods-Jordanvwater and Nile-water-Fertile making water of the Jews-Home
Sterility seems worse for women in the orient than impotence for men. It was considered among the Hebrews and other peoples of ancient times as dishonorable; but the mother of many children was in an envious position. When Rachel finally conceived and gave birth toa son, she said: "God has taken away my shame." In the first Book of Moses XXX, 14·23, and in the' Song of Songs, VII, 12; just as in other passages in the Old Testament, "tomatoes" are mentioned as remedies against sterility. Hamilton deems it "the fruit of Mandragora ofJicinalis, a plant belonging to the solanaceous, also at home in South Europe, whose root was used as a means for charming and as an amulet." I have already discussed Mandragora in detail in an earlier chapter. The passage in the Bible which relates particularly to tomatoes runs: "And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes. And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldst thou take away my son's mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee tonight for thy son's mandrakes. And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach." For similar reasons Rachel stole the Theraphim images), as is recorded in the first Book of Moses XXXI, 34·45, when she left the house of her father, for at that time she had but one son, and she hoped to have more sons through the influence of the symbols of production. And for the very same reason we find the Theraphim in the house of Michal, the daughter of Saul, who was barren and had never given birth in her whole life; it is so related in the first Book of Samuel XIX, 13·16; and in Book 2, VI, 23.