This potent spice is not just a food flavoring agent, but is and has been used in many natural pharmaceutical preparations from traditional Greek medicine to Ayurvedic medicine.
Coriander is mentioned twice in the scriptures (in our text verse above and Num. 11:7) and both times it refers to how the seeds resemble the Manna that the Israelites ate in the wilderness. Yet, there is much more to this. Although the seeds resembled Manna, the furrowed manner in which the plant grew reminded many of that day of how the skin “gathers” on the body as the result of a healed cut or gash. Yet, not just any gash, but one inflicted on purpose. The Hebrew word translated as Coriander literally means “cut”. This “cutting” comes from a root word (gadad) that can be seen in 1 Kings 18 as Elijah was challenged by the 450 prophets of Baal to see whose god was really God. The challenge was to call down fire from heaven upon the sacrifice of a bull. The prophets of Baal went first and began to pray, wail and jump around with no results. Then verse 28 says:
“And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.”
The phrase “after their manner” shows us that this type of zealous cutting was a part of their devotion or worship. They felt that if Baal would not respond to their sincere, humble requesting that he would certainly look favorably upon their deep devotion shown in self-injury or self-mutilation. This same spirit moves people to debase or degrade themselves today as a religious attempt to be more “humble” and more acceptable with the Father. “I’m not worthy.” “I’m only a filthy rag.” “I am worthless in your sight.” This is not the spirit of humility, but humiliation. No knives used but still “cutting” one’s self to gain God. The truth is that Christ was made sin for us so that we would be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). So, true humility is about lowering ourselves for the purpose of putting on His greatness and His ways through faith in Christ. Picture how a knight must bow, lower, or humble himself before his king to receive promotion. Worthiness is not the issue because, quite simply, we never will be.
Last note. Before we look down on these prophets for this belief in “cutting” or gashing themselves to be right with their god, let us also remember circumcision, which in like manner, was the “cutting” of the foreskin to symbolize cutting sin from our lives and being identified as God’s own. This was acceptable but never truly justified (or made righteous) the believer and was only merely a sign pointing to the new covenant because true circumcision is done in the heart, not the flesh (Jer. 4:4). Yet, many Jewish Christians held to the physical circumcision so tightly that it was taught that one must believe in Christ AND be circumcised to be “saved”. Religion may not purport circumcision as much today but various other “AND’s” still continue.
Just think, all of this from the fact that growing coriander appeared like the furrowing of a healed gash…God is funny that way.
Illustrated Dictionary of Bible Life and Times, Readers Digest
Prescription for Dietary Wellness, Phyllis A. Balch
Sedative-Hypnotic Activity of Extracts and Essential Oil of Coriander Seeds, IJMS, Vol 31, No 1, March 2006
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Volume 2, James Orr