balm Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
balm in Easton's Bible Dictionary
contracted from Bal'sam, a general name for many oily or
resinous substances which flow or trickle from certain trees or
plants when an incision is made through the bark.
(1.) This word occurs in the Authorized Version (Gen. 37:25;
43:11; Jer. 8:22; 46:11; 51:8; Ezek. 27:17) as the rendering of
the Hebrew word "tsori" or "tseri", which denotes the gum of a
tree growing in Gilead (q.v.), which is very precious. It was
celebrated for its medicinal qualities, and was circulated as an
article of merchandise by Arab and Phoenician merchants. The
shrub so named was highly valued, and was almost peculiar to
Israel. In the time of Josephus it was cultivated in the
neighbourhood of Jericho and the Dead Sea. There is an Arab
tradition that the tree yielding this balm was brought by the
queen of Sheba as a present to Solomon, and that he planted it
in his gardens at Jericho.
(2.) There is another Hebrew word, "basam" or "bosem", from
which our word "balsam," as well as the corresponding Greek
balsamon, is derived. It is rendered "spice" (Cant. 5:1, 13;
6:2; margin of Revised Version, "balsam;" Ex. 35:28; 1 Kings
10:10), and denotes fragrance in general. "Basam" also denotes
the true balsam-plant, a native of South Arabia (Cant. l.c.).
balm in Smith's Bible Dictionary
(from balsam, Heb. tzori, tezri) occurs in #Ge 37:25; 43:11; Jer 8:22; 46:11; 51:8; Eze 27:17| (It is an aromatic plant, or the resinous odoriferous sap or gum which exudes from such plants.) It is impossible to identify it with any certainty. It is impossible to identify it with any certainty. It may represent the gum of the Pistacia lentiscus, or more probably that of the Balsamodendron opobalsamum, allied to the balm of Gilead, which abounded in Gilead east of the Jordan. The trees resembled fig trees (or grape vines), but were lower, being but 12 to 15 feet high. It is now called the BALM OF GILEAD, or Meccabalsam, the tree or shrub being indigenous in the mountains around Mecca. [INCENSE; SPICES] Hasselquist says that the exudation from the plant "is of a yellow color, and pellucid. It has a most fragrant smell, which is resinous, balsamic and very agreeable. It is very tenacious or glutinous, sticking to the fingers, and may be drawn into long threads." It was supposed to have healing as well as aromatic qualities.
balm in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
BALM . Gen 37:25. One of the articles of merchandise which the Ishmaelites (to whom Joseph was sold) were carrying from Gilead to Egypt. It is worthy of remark that the particulars of this trading company or caravan, their character, course of travel and freight, though referring to a period 1700 years before the Christian era, correspond with wonderful accuracy to those of similar commercial expeditions across the desert at the present day. The balm is supposed to be the production of the balm-of-Gilead tree (Balsamodendron Gileadense), which grows about 12 or 14 feet high, with diverging branches. The resin which it produces is exceedingly odoriferous, and greatly esteemed in the East for its healing properties. It was once an important article of merchandise among the Eastern nations. Eze 27:17. Nothing can exceed the eloquence and tenderness of the language employed by the prophet Jeremiah to express his grief and disappointment that the chosen people of God (the daughter of Zion) should remain spiritually wounded and diseased, when there was a healing Balm of unfailing virtue and a Physician of divine skill to administer it, and both within Balm. Balm. (Balsamodendron Gileadense. After Dr. Birdwood.) (Balsamodendron Opobalsamum. After Dr. Birdwood.) their reach. Jer 8:22; Jer 46:11 and Jer 51:8.
balm in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Contracted from balsam, a word formed by the Greeks from Hebrew Baal shemen, "lord of oil" That of Gilead was famed as among Canaan's best fruits as early as Jacob's time, and was exported by Ishmaelite caravans to Egypt (Genesis 37:25; Genesis 43:11), also to Tyre (Ezekiel 27:17). Used to heal wounds (Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 46:11; Jeremiah 51:8). It was cultivated near Jericho and the Dead Sea, in Josephus" time. Burckhardt says: "it still grows in gardens near Tiberius." Hebrew tsori, from tsarah "to split." A balsamic oil, the modern "balsam of Jericho," is extracted from the kernels of the zuckum thorn bush, a kind of elaeagnus, in the region about the Dead Sea; but this cannot be the tree. The queen of Sheba, according to Josephus, brought "the root of the balsam" as a present to Solomon (Ant. 8:6 section 6); but it was in Gilead ages before her.
The fragrant resin known as "the balsam of Mecca" is from the Amyris Gileadensis, or opobalsamum. The height is about 14 ft., the trunk 9 in. in diameter. Incisions in the bark yield three or four drops a day from each, and left to stand the balsam becomes of a golden color and pellucid as a gem. The balm was so scarce, the Jericho gardens yielding but six or seven gallons yearly, that it was worth twice its weight in silver. Pompey exhibited it in Rome as one of the spoils of the newly conquered province, 65 B.C. One of the far famed trees graced Vespasian's triumph, A.D. 79. Titus had to fight two battles near the Jericho balsam groves, to prevent the Jews destroying them in despair. Then they were put under the care of an imperial guard. The Pistacia lentiscus ("mastick") has its Arabic name dseri answering to the Hebrew tsori, which seems to favor its claim to being the balm of Gilead.