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Spice, Spices

  • Heb. basam, besem or bosem . In (Song of Solomon 5:1) “I have gathered my myrrh with my spice,” the word points apparently to some definite substance. In the other places, with the exception perhaps of (Song of Solomon 1:13; 6:2) the words refer more generally to sweet aromatic odors, the principal of which was that of the balsam or balm of Gilead; the tree which yields this substance is now generally admitted to be the Balsam-odendron opobalsamum . The balm of Gilead tree grows in some parts of Arabia and Africa, and is seldom more than fifteen feet high, with straggling branches and scanty foliage. The balsam is chiefly obtained from incisions in the bark, but is procured also from the green and ripe berries.
  • Necoth . (Genesis 37:25; 43:11) The most probable explanation is that which refers the word to the Arabic naku’at i.e. “the gum obtained from the tragacanth” (Astragalus).
  • Sammim, a general term to denote those aromatic substances which were used in the preparation of the anointing oil, the incense offerings, etc. The spices mentioned as being used by Nicodemus for the preparation of our Lord’s body, (John 19:39,40) are “myrrh and aloes,” by which latter word must be understood not the aloes of medicine, but the highly-scented wood of the Aquilaria agallochum .
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