Spice; Spices

spis, spi'-sis, -sez:

(1) (besem (Ex 30:23), bosem, plural besamim, all from root "to attract by desire," especially by smell): The list of spices in Ex 30:23 includes myrrh, cinnamon, "sweet calamus cassia." These, mixed with olive oil, made the "holy anointing oil." Officials of the temple had charge of the spices (1Ch 9:29). Among the treasures of the temple shown by Hezekiah to the messengers of Babylon were the spices (2Ki 20:13). They were used in the obsequies of kings (2Ch 16:14) and in preparation of a bride for a royal marriage (Es 2:12, "sweet-odors" = balsam). Spices are frequently mentioned in Song (Es 4:10,14,16; 5:1, margin and the King James Version "balsam"; Song 5:13; 6:2, "bed of spices," margin "balsam"; Song 8:14). These passages in Song may refer in particular to balsam, the product of the balsam plant, Balsamodendron opobalsamum, a plant growing in Arabia. According to Josephus it was cultivated at Jericho, the plant having been brought to Palestine by the Queen of Sheba (Ant., VIII, vi, 6; see also XIV , iv, 1;XV , iv, 2;BJ , I, vi, 6).


(2) cammim (Ex 30:34, "sweet spices")): "Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; sweet spices with pure frankincense." It is a general term for fragrant substances finely powdered. Compare Arabic shamm, "a smell" or "sense of smell"; generally translated "sweet incense" (Ex 25:6; 30:7; 31:11; 35:8,15,28; 39:38; 40:27 (the King James Version only); Le 4:7; 16:12; Nu 4:16; 2Ch 2:4 (the King James Version only); 2Ch 13:11). In Ex 37:29; 40:27; 2Ch 2:4, we have qsToreth cammim, "incense of sweet spices."

(3) (nekho'th; thumiamata (Ge 37:25, "spicery," margin "gum tragacanth or storax"); thumiama "incense" (Ge 43:11, "spicery"; some Greek versions and the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) have "storax")): Storax is the dried gum of the beautiful Styrax officinalis (see POPLAR), which was used as incense--different article from that now passing under that name. Tragacanth is the resinous gum of several species of milk vetch (Natural Order, Leguminosae), especially of the Astragalus gummifer. Septuagint "incense" is probably the best translation.

(4) (reqach, "spiced" wine (Song 8:2)).


(5) (aroma, "spices" (Mr 16:1, the King James Version "sweet spices"; Lu 23:56-24:1; Joh 19:40; in Joh 19:39 defined as a mixture of aloes and myrrh)).


(6) (amomon (Re 18:13), margin "amomum"; the King James Version "odours"): The Greek means "blameless," and it was apparently applied in classical times to any sweet and fine odor. In modern botany the name Amomum is given to a genus in the Natural Order. Zingiberaceae. The well-known cardamon seeds (Amomum cardamomum) and the A. grana Paradisi which yields the well-known "grains of Paradise," used as a stimulant, both belong to this genus. What was the substance indicated in Re 18:13 is quite uncertain.

E. W. G. Masterman

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