Gourd: 1. Jonah's gourd
(Jonah 4:6-10) bearing the Hebrew name kikayon
(found only here), was probably the kiki of the Egyptians, the
croton. This is the castor-oil plant, a species of ricinus, the
palma Christi, so called from the palmate division of its leaves.
Others with more probability regard it as the cucurbita the
el-keroa of the Arabs, a kind of pumpkin peculiar to the East. "It
is grown in great abundance on the alluvial banks of the Tigris and
on the plain between the river and the ruins of Nineveh." At the
present day it is trained to run over structures of mud and brush
to form boots to protect the gardeners from the heat of the
noon-day sun. It grows with extraordinary rapidity, and when cut or
injured withers away also with great rapidity.
2. Wild gourds
(2 Kings 4:38-40) Heb. pakkuoth, belong to the family of
the cucumber-like plants, some of which are poisonous. The
species here referred to is probably the colocynth (Cucumis
colocynthus). The LXX. render the word by "wild pumpkin." It
abounds in the desert parts of Syria, Egypt, and Arabia. There
is, however, another species, called the Cucumis prophetarum,
from the idea that it afforded the gourd which "the sons of the
prophets" shred by mistake into their pottage.