« Ballou, Hosea, 2d Balm Balmes, Jaime »


BALM: The rendering in both English versions of the Hebrew ori (Gen. xxxvii, 25 and xliii, 11, where R. V. has “mastic" in the margin; Jer. viii, 22; xlvi, 11; li, 8; Ezek. xxvii, 17). An important product of Palestine, particularly of the East-Jordan country, is evidently referred to, and the transparent, yellowish-white, fragrant gum of the mastic-tree (Pistacia lentiscus, L) is probably meant. Pliny mentions the Judean mastic (Hist. nat., xiv, 122 sqq.). The substance was prized by the ancients as a medicine (Pliny, xxiv, 32 sqq.). The identification of ori with balsam by Jewish tradition is not correct; such a tropical or sub-tropical product would hardly be found on the mountains of Gilead. In Song of Sol. v, 1, basam may be the true balsam (so R. V., margin; text and A. V., “spice"; cf. “bed of spices,” v, 13; vi, 2). It grew in the Ghor, and the balsam gardens of Jericho were famous (Josephus, Ant., IX, i, 2; XIV, iv, 1, and many others). Pompey is said to have carried it thence to Rome, and Josephus thought the Queen of Sheba brought it to Palestine (Ant., VIII, vi, 6; cf. I Kings x, 10). There are several varieties, of which the chief is the Amyris Gileadensis, L, the true Arabian or Mecca balsam. It is a low, berry-producing tree, with small blossoms, and imparipinnate leaves. The balsam exudes from the ends of the twigs. Myrrh also belongs to the balsamodendra and probably bdellium; see Myrrh; Bdellium.

I. Benzinger.

« Ballou, Hosea, 2d Balm Balmes, Jaime »
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