Plants related to marjoram which were tied together in a bunch for sprinkling water in ritual purifications. The reference to hyssop at the crucifixion (John 19: 29) is puzzling, since the stem of this plant is not tough enough to bear the weight of a sponge, and it has been suggested that there was an early mistake in the Greek MSS and that the evangelist wrote ‘on a javelin’ (NEB). Yet a reference to ‘hyssop’ would carry Passover sacrificial overtones (Exod. 12: 22) which John may have noted for its theological rather than historical truth.