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The word “apple” appears eight times in the King James Bible and seven times in other translations (NKJV, NIV, NRSV). Apple was used as a translation of four different Hebrew words: tappuwach (tappuah) (meaning “fragrance”), 'iyshown, babah and bath.

The fruit in question was possibly the quince, orange or apricot. There is no evidence that apples grew in Israel (due probably to the heat). The “tappuwach” is listed among the most valuable trees of Israel (Joel 1:12) and is frequently referred to in the Song of Solomon, and noted for its beauty (2:3, 5; 8:5).

Dr. Tristram suggested that the apricot has a better claim than any other fruit tree to be the “apple” of Scripture. It grows to a height of 30 feet, has a roundish mass of glossy leaves, and bears an orange-colored fruit and has beautiful fragrance.

There is no evidence that the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was an apple tree, apricot tree, qunice or any other fruit tree mentioned here. Nor is there any connection between that tree and any of the Hebrew words mentioned here.

The phrase “apple of the eye” is the Hebrew “iyshown” (ishon), meaning manikin, i.e., the pupil of the eye, not a fruit, although it is round (Proverbs 7:2). (Compare the promise, Zechariah 2:8; the prayer, Psalms 17:8; and its fulfilment, Deuteronomy 32:10.)

Some have suppposed that the so-called “apple of Sodom” was the Solanum sanctum (Hebrew: “hedek”), translated as “brier” in Micah 7:4, a thorny plant bearing fruit like the potato-apple. This shrub abounds in the Jordan valley.

Author: Matthew G. Easton and Paul S. Taylor.