Spice; Spices


spis, spi'-sis, -sez:

(1) (besem (Exodus 30:23), bosem, plural besamim, all from root "to attract by desire," especially by smell):

The list of spices in Exodus 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 (1 Chronicles 9:29). Among the treasures of the temple shown by Hezekiah to the messengers of Babylon were the spices (2 Kings 20:13). They were used in the obsequies of kings (2 Chronicles 16:14) and in preparation of a bride for a royal marriage (Esther 2:12, "sweet-odors" = balsam). Spices are frequently mentioned in So (4:10,14,16; 5:1, margin and the King James Version "balsam"; Song of Solomon 5:13; 6:2, "bed of spices," margin "balsam"; 8:14). These passages in So 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 (Exodus 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" (Exodus 25:6; 30:7; 31:11; 35:8,15,28; 39:38; 40:27 (the King James Version only); Leviticus 4:7; 16:12; Numbers 4:16; 2 Chronicles 2:4 (the King James Version only); 2 Chronicles 13:11). In Exodus 37:29; 40:27; 2 Chronicles 2:4, we have qsToreth cammim, "incense of sweet spices."

(3) (nekho'th; thumiamata (Genesis 37:25, "spicery," margin "gum tragacanth or storax"); thumiama "incense" (Genesis 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 of Solomon 8:2)).


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


(6) (amomon (Revelation 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 Revelation 18:13 is quite uncertain.

E. W. G. Masterman

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'SPICE; SPICES'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.