[Heb., shu·mimʹ (plural)].
A bulbous perennial plant (Allium sativum), the strong-scented, pungent-tasting bulb of which is composed of up to 20 smaller bulbs, or cloves. The flower stalk of garlic, bearing tiny bulblets and sterile flowers, at times may attain a height of 0.3 m (1 ft) or more.
The indications are that garlic was extensively cultivated in ancient Egypt. In the wilderness the mixed crowd and the Israelites longed for the garlic they used to eat there. (Nu 11:4, 5) The Greek historian Herodotus (II, 125) tells of an inscription that listed garlic as one of the foods provided for the laborers on a certain pyramid. Garlic is still widely used by the inhabitants of Mediterranean areas. In the Mishnah (Nedarim 3:10), the Jews referred to themselves as garlic-eaters. Garlic has been used medicinally as a digestive stimulant, as an antibiotic, and as an antispasmodic.