bol'-sam (basam, besem; hedusmata; thumiamata): Is usually "spices" but in the Revised Version, margin (Song 5:1,13; 6:2) is rendered as "balsam." It was an ingredient in the anointing oil of the priests (Ex 25:6; 35:28). The Queen of Sheba brought it as a present to Solomon (1Ki 10:2) in large quantity (1Ki 10:10) and of a finer quality (2Ch 9:9) than that brought as a regular tribute by other visitors (1Ki 10:25). In the later monarchy Hezekiah had a treasure of this perfume (2Ch 32:27) which he displayed to his Babylonian visitors (Isa 39:2); and after the captivity the priests kept a store of it in the temple (1Ch 9:30). According to Ezekiel the Syrians imported it from Sheba (1Ch 27:22). There is a tradition preserved in Josephus (Ant., VIII, vi, 6) that the Queen of Sheba brought roots of the plant to Solomon, who grew them in a garden of spices at Jericho, probably derived from the references to such a garden in Song 5:1,13; 6:2. This may be the source of the statements of Strabo, Trogus and Pliny quoted above ( see BALM). It was probably the same substance as the BALM described above, but from the reference in Ex 30:7; 35:8, it may have been used as a generic name for fragrant resins. The root from which the word is derived signifies "to be fragrant," and fragrant balsams or resins are known in modern Arabic as bahasan. The trees called in 2Sa 5:23-24 (Revised Version, margin) "balsam-trees" were certainly not those which yielded this substance, for there are none in the Shepehlah but there are both mulberry trees and terebinths in the district between Rephaim and Gezer. When used as a perfume the name basam seems to have been adopted, but as a medicinal remedy it is called tsori.

See also the McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia.

Alex. Macalister

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