(6) Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts. You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
(7) Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Hyssop, or what has been translated as “hyssop,” is cited in several scripture verses in cleansing and purification. In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Scriptures, the term “ὕσσωπος” (G5301) is translated as “hyssop” and shares its origin with the Hebrew word “אזוב” or “esov” (H231), and yet, the meaning is a little more innocuous than it appears. The term “hyssop,” as used in the scripture, may more appropriately refer to a class of aromatic plants or shrubs known to have antiseptic and purifying properties. (1
In Scriptures, it is described as being found on or near walls:
Melekim Aleph (1 Kings) 4:33: He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, and of birds, and of creeping things, and of fish.
It is also described as aromatic:
Bemidbar (Numbers) 19:6: and the Kohen shall take cedar-wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
Although found around the Mediterranean, the Caspian Sea, and the Middle East, hyssop is not native to the Land of Yisra’el and was virtually unknown in biblical times.(2) Among possible candidates for this description include oregano, marjoram, thyme, and capers (Capparis spinosa) which is known as “azaf or asuf” in Arabic. In Arab and Israeli lands, “esov” refers to the plant species Origanum syriacum, which is prevalent in the Middle East, Egypt, and even found in the Sinai Peninsula, is a member of the mint family and is incorporated into herb mixtures and essential oils. The plant grows to a height of 1 meter, is pollinated by bees, and has flowers are small and white or pale pink.(3)
Isn’t amazing that the Creator of Heaven and Earth knew about this plant, its properties, and potential uses? (He created it after all)
Shemoth (Exodus) 12:22: And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
– This is the command given to the Children of Yisra’el before the first Pesach, a physical “threshold covenant” established between Yahweh and His people.(4) The imagery here is very powerful: Hyssop, a symbol of purification, striking the doorpost and lintel with the blood of a lamb, sealing them under the protection of the blood and His Wings.(5)
Vayyikra (Leviticus) 14:4, 6, 49-52:
(4) 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:
(6) 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:
(49) And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:
(50) And he shall kill the one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water:
(51) 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:
(52) 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…
– This scripture, in the Book of Leviticus, is the “law for cleansing leprosy.” The combination of items presented here, in particular the cedar wood, hyssop, and blood, may seem nothing short of witchcraft, heaven forbid, and yet the combination provided a valuable tool for cleansing:
1.) Cedar wood acts a great base to stabilize tinctures, oil mixtures, and solutions.(6) It also is a fantastic essential oil, used in treatment of acne, arthritis, bronchitis, coughing, cystitis, dandruff, dermatitis, stress.(6)
2.) Hyssop, no matter the true identity, served as a purging and antiseptic agent.
3.) Bird’s blood may seem like an “off-the-wall” addition to the mixture, and yet it has a very specific purpose despite what you may think: it interrupts the host-parasite life cycle. The parasite would not be able to survive and reproduce in a different organism’s blood.
Bemidbar (Numbers) 19:6 & 18:
(6) And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
(18) 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.
– Upon the burning of the “Red Heifer,” the ashes were gathered and mixed with water to form what was known as “The Water of Separation.” This was used to purify someone who was ritually unclean be means of touching the dead. Spiritual uncleanliness was one of the worst conditions upon any of the Children of Yisra’el because it marked a spiritual and physical separation between Yahweh and their brothers and sisters. Failure to seek the cleansing power of the Water of Separation, resulted in the removal from the camp and the commonwealth of Yisra’el. It represented “wallowing” in sin and spiritual adultery before Yahweh.
Yochanan (John) 19:28-30:
(28) After this, Yahushua knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst.”
(29) Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
(30) When Yahushua therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
– Verse 28 was said to fulfill Psalms 22:15 & 69:21, & Hoshea 2:3:
Tehellim (Psalms) 22:15: My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
Tehellim (Psalms) 69:21: They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Hoshea (Hosea) 2:3: Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.
– Verse 29 begins with the cup of bitter waters from Bemidbar (Numbers) 5 (See The Cup Only Messiah Could Drink study for more information).(7) Then the bitter waters were served on a sponge connected to a hyssop branch, a symbol of further purging and purification.
– Verse 30 ends with the death of the Messiah. Not only is He signifying to the people observing, and henceforth the world, but He is also speaking the words that the High Priest says after slitting the throat of the Pesach Lamb – “It is finished.” He signifies His death as the “Pesach Lamb” and savior of the world from sin in three simple words. HalleluYah!
I hope that with the information presented here and the scriptural evidence available, your walk be enriched and your appreciation of the greatness of Our Father and Creator is heightened. May Yahweh cleanse you with Hyssop and make you whiter than snow!
Origanum syriacum. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origanum_syriacum
Threshold Covenant. https://benailevi.wordpress.com/thematic-studies-2/threshold-covenant/
Shelter of His Wings. https://benailevi.wordpress.com/thematic-studies-2/shelter-of-his-wings/
The Cup Only Messiah Could Drink. https://benailevi.wordpress.com/thematic-studies-2/the-cup-only-messiah-could-drink/