[Heb., paq·qu·ʽothʹ, plural].
The Hebrew word rendered “gourds” appears in the Bible only with reference to an incident occurring during a time of famine in Elisha’s day. Someone had gathered some unfamiliar wild gourds and sliced them in with a stew. Upon tasting it, “the sons of the prophets” feared food poisoning and stopped eating, but Elisha miraculously saved the stew from being wasted.—2Ki 4:38-41.
Although a number of other suggestions have been made, the colocynth (Citrullus colocynthis), a plant related to the watermelon, is generally favored as the plant whose fruit probably corresponds to the “wild gourds” of the Scriptural record. The vine of the colocynth trails like the cucumber and also has similar foliage. The fruit is about the size of an orange; it has a thick, smooth rind with green and yellow mottlings, and it contains a very bitter and poisonous spongy pulp, from which the colocynth of medicine is derived. The characteristics of the colocynth would fit the Bible narrative of a wild gourd that was apparently poisonous, as suggested by its very taste. (2Ki 4:40) When most other plants have withered, it is still green and hence is a temptation to one unfamiliar with it.