Majorana syriaca, Origanum syriacum, Wild marjoram,
Syrian Marjoram, Hyssop, Zaatar, Zahtar,زعتر‎, אזוב מצוי

Scientific name:  Majorana syriacum (L.) Kostel
Synonym name:  Origanum syriaca L.
Common name:   Wild marjoram, Syrian Marjoram, Hyssop
Hebrew name:  Esov, אזוב מצוי
Arabic name:  Za'atar, زعتر‎
Family:  Labiatae / Lamiaceae, שפתניים

Israel wildflowers, send flowers

Life form:  Chamaephyte
Stems:  35-60 cm; erect, usually not branching, hairy
Leaves:  Opposite, entire
Flowers:  Hermaphrodite; Dense terminal clusters; White
Fruits / pods:  Nutlet
Flowering Period:   April, May, June, July, August, September
Habitat:   Mediterranean maquis and forest, Batha, Phrygana
Distribution:  Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Shrub-steppes, Montane vegetation of Mt. Hermon
Chorotype:   Mediterranean
Summer shedding:  Perenating

Majorana syriaca, Origanum syriacum, Wild marjoram,Syrian Marjoram,Hyssop, Zaatar, Zahtar,زعتر‎, אזוב מצוי


Derivation of the botanical name:
Majorana, Greek,amarakos, ἀμαράκος; Latin, amaracum; the origin of the name is not known, it is possible that it derived from the Sanskrit maruva, मरुव.
syriacum, Syrian
Origanum, Latin origanus, origanum, Greek. oreiganon, oros, "mountain"; ganos, "joy"; joy of the mountain.
Hyssop; the name hyssop can be traced back almost unchanged through the Greek hyssopus and Hebrew esov, meaning "holy herb". Because common Hyssop (Hyssop officinalis) is not native to the Mediterranean area, much debate has ensued over which plant was referred to as Hyssop.
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
  • The standard author abbreviation Kostel is used to indicate Vincenz Franz Kosteletzky (1801 - 1887), a Bohemian botanist.
Hyssop is a wild aromatic herb similar to oregano, which was thrown into the fire when the red heifer was offered as a burnt sacrifice during Temple times. (Numbers 19:6)
Origanum syriacum is thought to be the true Hyssop of the Bible.
Hyssop was used to cleanse the temples and other sacred places of the Egyptians.
It is mentioned numerous times in the Scriptures. While pride is symbolized by the majestic cedar of Lebanon in Jewish tradition, the lowly hyssop represents modesty and humility. br In religious painting Hyssop is used as a symbol of humility. This symbolism of the hyssop versus the cedar gives to understand the plea of King David in Psalms 51:9: “Cleanse me with hyssop that I may be pure; wash me that I may become whiter than snow”.
David committed a sin by taking Bathsheba and arrogantly accorded himself the unjust privileges assumed by foreign kings, thus “he became proud above his people.” David’s prayer for forgiveness can be understood like the plea of the leper: I was proud and haughty like the cedar, and now I beseech you to make me humble like this hyssop with which I ask to be cleansed. (Lev. 14:2-4)
Hyssop is known for its ability to purify the blood, which in Psalm 51:9 had symbolic, as well as medicinal significance. Hyssop as we know it may or may not be the hyssop mentioned by King David.
In the New Testament, a sponge soaked in sour wine or vinegar was stuck on a branch of hyssop and offered to Jesus of Nazareth on the cross (John 19:29), showing that the cross was not as high as sometimes portrayed (Hyssop is up to 60 cm long).
Hyssop-Oregano was often gathered in bunches and used as a brush or sprinkler for purification rituals.

In the Middle East nowadays hyssop is a popular mixture of spices and marketed as zatar or za'atar seasoning.
In Israel za' atar is a protected plant and due to over-exploitation there are large fines for picking za' atar. There is a wide variety of mixtures but all contain (toasted) white sesame seeds, ground sumac, wild oregano (Origanum syriacum, formerly Majorana syriaca.) and salt. It is used on meats and vegetables, and is also mixed with olive oil to make a spread or dip. It has an excellent flavor.
All marjorams are oreganos, but not all oreganos are marjorams.

Bible resources:
  1. Exodus 12:22
    Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning.
  2. Leviticus 14:4
    the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed.
  3. Leviticus 14:6
    He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water.
  4. Leviticus 14:49
    To purify the house he is to take two birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop.
  5. Leviticus 14:51
    Then he is to take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird, dip them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times.
  6. Leviticus 14:52
    He shall purify the house with the bird’s blood, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn.
  7. Numbers 19:6
    The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer.
  8. Numbers 19:18
    Then a man who is ceremonially clean is to take some hyssop, dip it in the water and sprinkle the tent and all the furnishings and the people who were there. He must also sprinkle anyone who has touched a human bone or a grave or anyone who has been killed or anyone who has died a natural death.
  9. 1 Kings 4:33
    He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish.
  10. Psalm 51:7
    Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
  11. John 19:29
    A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.
  12. Hebrews 9:19
    When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.

Majorana syriaca, Origanum syriacum, Wild marjoram,Syrian Marjoram,Hyssop, Zaatar, Zahtar,زعتر‎, אזוב מצוי


Majorana syriaca, Origanum syriacum, Wild marjoram,Syrian Marjoram,Hyssop, Zaatar, Zahtar,زعتر‎, אזוב מצוי