From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Webster's Dictionary [1]

(1): (n.) A species of tree (Abies balsamea).

(2): (n.) An annual garden plant (Impatiens balsamina) with beautiful flowers; balsamine.

(3): (n.) Anything that heals, soothes, or restores.

(4): (v. t.) To treat or anoint with balsam; to relieve, as with balsam; to render balsamic.

(5): (n.) A resin containing more or less of an essential or volatile oil.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

Baka'   2 Samuel 5:23-24 1 Chronicles 14:14-15 basam   Song of Solomon 5:1 Song of Solomon 5:13 Song of Solomon 6:2

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

Balsam . See Spice.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [4]


(Gr. Βάλσαμον , i.e. Opobalsamum, Arab. Balasan ) , the fragrant resin of the balsam-tree, possessing medicinal properties; according to Pliny (12:54), indigenous only to Judaea, but known to Diodorus Sic. (3:46) as a product of Arabia also. In Palestine, praised by other writers also for its balsam (Justin, 36:3; Tacit. Hist. v. 6; Plutarch, Vita Anton. c. 36; Florus, 3, 5, 29; Dioscor. 1:18), this plant was cultivated in the environs of Jericho (Strabo, 16:763; Diod. Sic. 2:48; 19:98), in gardens set apart for this use (Pliny 12:54; see Joseph. Ant. 14:4, 1; 15:4, 2; War, 1:6, 6); and after the destruction of the state of Judaea, these plantations formed a lucrative source of the Roman imperial revenue (see Diod. Sic. 2:48). Pliny distinguishes three different species of this plant; the first with thin, capillaceous leaves; the second a crooked scabrous shrub; and the third with smooth rind and of taller growth than the two former. He tells us that, in general, the balsam plant, a shrub, has the nearest resemblance to the grapevine, and its mode of cultivation is almost the same. The leaves, however, more closely resemble those of the rue, and the plant is an evergreen. Its height does not exceed two cubits. From slight incisions made very cautiously into the rind (Joseph. Ant. 14:4, 1; War, 1:6, 6) the balsam trickles in thin drops, which are collected with wool into a horn, and then preserved in new earthen jars. At first it is whitish and pellucid, but afterward it becomes harder and reddish. That is considered to be the best quality which tiickles before the appearance of the fruit. Much inferior to this is the resin pressed from the seeds, the rind, and even from the stems (see Theophrast. Plantt. 9:6; Strabo, 16:763; Pausan. 9:28, 2). This description, which is not sufficiently characteristic of the plant itself, suits for the most part the Egyptian balsam-shrub found by Belon (Paulus, Samml. 4:188 sq.) in a garden near Cairo (the plant, however, is not indigenous to Egypt, but the layers are brought there from Arabia Felix; Prosp. Alpin. De balsamo, 3; Plant. Eg. 14:30, with the plate; Abdollatif, Memoirs, p. 58). Forskal found between Mecca and Medina a shrub, abusham (Niebuhr, Reis. 1:351), which he considered to be the genuine balsam-plant, and he gave its botanical description under the name Amyris opobalsamum, in his Flora Egypt. Arab. p. 79 sq., together with two other varieties, Amyris kataf and Amyris kafal. There are two species distinguished in the Linnsean system, the Amyris Gileadensis (Forsk. "A. opobals.") and A. opobals. (the species described by Belon and Alpin); see Linne's Vollst. Pflanzensyst. 1:473 sq., plates; Plenck, Plantt. Med. pl. 155; Berlin. Jahrb. d. Pharmac. 1795, pl. 1; Ainslie, Mater. Indica, 1:26 sq. More recent naturalists have included the species Amnyr's Gilead. in the genus Protium; see Wight and Walker (Arnott), Prodromn. flore peninsulae India Orient. (London, 1834), 1:177; Lindley, Flora Medica (London, 1838, 8vo), p. 169. This tree, from which the Mecca balsam is gained in very small quantity (Pliny 12:54, "succus e plaga manat ... sed tenui gutta plorata"), which never reaches us unadulterated, grows only in a single district of Yemen; of late, however, it was discovered in the East Indies also. See generally Prosp. Alpin. Dial. de balsalmo (Venet. 1591; as also, in several editions of his work De Plantt. fAq. p. 1592; and in Ugolini, Thesaur. 11, with plates); Veiling, Opobalsami veterib. cogniti indclcice, p. 217 sq.; Bochart, Hieroz. 1:628 sq.; Michaelis, Suppl. 2142 sq.; Le Moyne, Diss. Opobalsam. declaratzum (Upsal. 1764); Wildenow, in the Berl. Jahrb. d. Pharmac. 1795, p. 143 sq., with plates; Oken, sehrb. d. Botanik, II, 2:681 sq.; Martins, Pharmakogn. p. 343 sq.; Sprengel, Zu Dioscor. 2:355 sq.

Our only reason for mentioning all this is of course the presupposition that the Palestinian balsam is named in the Bible also, and, indeed, the bosem ( בֹּשֶׂם ,  Song of Solomon 5:13), also Basam ( בָּשָׂם , v. 1; comp. Arab. Bashaums ) , which in both passages appear to be names of garden plants, must be taken for the balsam-shrub (the ancient translators consider the word as a name). It is more difficult to determine whether the resin of the balsam tree is mentioned also in the books of the O.T. The Tseri or Tsori ( צְרִי or צַרִי ) is commonly taken for such. This name is given to a precious resin found in Gilead ( Genesis 37:25;  Jeremiah 46:11), and circulated as an article of merchandise by Arab and Phoenician merchants ( Genesis 37:25;  Ezekiel 27:17). It was one of the princi

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [5]

bôl´sam ( בּשׂם , bāsām , בּשׂם , besem  ; ἡδύσματα , hēdúsmata  ; θυμιάματα , thumiámata ): Is usually "spices" but in the Revised Version, margin ( Song of Solomon 5:1 ,  Song of Solomon 5:13;  Song of Solomon 6:2 ) is rendered as "balsam." It was an ingredient in the anointing oil of the priests ( Exodus 25:6;  Exodus 35:28 ). The Queen of Sheba brought it as a present to Solomon ( 1 Kings 10:2 ) in large quantity ( 1 Kings 10:10 ) and of a finer quality ( 2 Chronicles 9:9 ) than that brought as a regular tribute by other visitors ( 1 Kings 10:25 ). In the later monarchy Hezekiah had a treasure of this perfume ( 2 Chronicles 32:27 ) which he displayed to his Babylonian visitors ( Isaiah 39:2 ); and after the captivity the priests kept a store of it in the temple ( 1 Chronicles 9:30 ). According to Ezekiel the Syrians imported it from Sheba ( Ezekiel 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 of Solomon 5:1 ,  Song of Solomon 5:13;  Song of Solomon 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  Exodus 30:7;  Exodus 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 bahasân . The trees called in  2 Samuel 5:23 ,  2 Samuel 5:24 (Revised Version, margin) "balsam-trees" were certainly not those which yielded this substance, for there are none in the Shepēhlāh but there are both mulberry trees and terebinths in the district between Rephaim and Gezer. When used as a perfume the name bāsām seems to have been adopted, but as a medicinal remedy it is called , cŏrı̄ ̌ .