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Dictionaries :: Balm

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Easton's Bible Dictionary

Balm:

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; Eze 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 Palestine. 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" (Sgs 5:1,13; 6:2; margin of Revised Version, "balsam; Exd 35:28; 1Ki 10:10), and denotes fragrance in general. Basam also denotes the true balsam-plant, a native of South Arabia (Cant. l.c.).

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

Balm:

bam (tseri, tsori; Septuagint rhetine): The name of an odoriferous resin said to be brought from Gilead by Ishmaelite Arabs on their way to Egypt (Ge 37:25). It is translated "balm" in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American), but is called "mastic," the Revised Version, margin. In Ge 43:11 it is one of the gifts sent by Jacob to Joseph, and in Eze 27:17 it is named as one of the exports from Judea to Tyre. The prophet Jeremiah refers figuratively to its medicinal properties as an application to wounds and as a sedative (Jer 8:22; 46:11; 51:8). The name is derived from a root signifying "to leak," and is applied to it as being an exudation. There is a sticky, honeylike gum resin prepared at the present day at Jericho, extracted from the Balanites Aegyptiaca grown in the Ghor, and sold to travelers in small tin boxes as "Balm of Gilead," but it is improbable that this is the real tscori and it has no medicinal value. The material to which the classic authors applied the name is that known as Mecca balsam, which is still imported into Egypt from Arabia, as it was in early times. This is the exudation from the Balsamodendron opobalsamum, a native of southern Arabia and Abyssinia. The tree is small, ragged-looking and with a yellowish bark like that of a plane tree, and the exudation is said to be gathered from its smaller branches. At the present day it grows nowhere in Palestine. Dr. Post and other botanists have sought for it on the Ghor and in Gilead, and have not found it, and there is no trace of it in the neighborhood of Jericho, which Pliny says is its only habitat. Strabo describes it as growing by the Sea of Galilee, as well as at Jericho, but both these and other ancient writers give inconsistent and incorrect descriptions of the tree evidently at second hand. We learn from Theophrastus that many of the spices of the farther East reached the Mediterranean shore through Palestine, being brought by Arab caravans which would traverse the indefinitely bounded tract East of Jordan to which the name Gilead is given, and it was probably thus that the balm received its local name. Mecca balsam is an orange-yellow, treacly fluid, mildly irritating to the skin, possibly a weak local stimulant and antiseptic, but of very little remedial value.

Written by Alexander Macalister

King James Dictionary

Balm: A Medicine; Gum/rosin from a Bush.

For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates. Go up into Gilead, and take BALM, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured. (Jeremiah 46:10-11)

Smith's Bible Dictionary

Balm:

(from balsam, Heb. tzori, tezri) occurs in Genesis 37:25; 43:11; Jeremiah 8:22; 46:11; 51:8; Ezekiel 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 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. SEE [INCENSE], [SPICE, 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.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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