mur'-t'-l (hadhac; mursine (Isa 41:19; 55:13; Ne 8:15; Zec 1:8,10 f); also as a name in Hadassah in Es 2:7, the Jewish form of ESTHER (which see)): The myrtle, Myrtus communis (Natural Order Myrtaceae), is a very common indigenous shrub all over Palestine. On the bare hillsides it is a low bush, but under favorable conditions of moisture it attains a considerable height (compare Zec 1:8,10). It has dark green, scented leaves, delicate starry white flowers and dark-colored berries, which are eaten. In ancient times it was sacred to Astarte. It is mentioned as one of the choice plants of the land (Isa 41:19). "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree" (Isa 55:13), is one of the prophetic pictures of God's promised blessings. It was one of the trees used in the Feast of Tabernacles (Ne 8:15): "the branches of thick trees" (which see) are interpreted in the Talmud (Cuk. 3 4; Yer Cuk. 3, 53rd) as myrtle boughs; also (id) the "thick trees" of Ne 8:15 as "wild myrtle." Myrtle twigs, particularly those of the broadleaved variety, together with a palm branch and twigs of willow, are still used in the ritual of the Feast of Tabernacles. For many references to myrtle in Jewish writings see Jewish Encyclopedia,IX , 137.
E. W. G. Masterman