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locality whence the balm was obtained was thus specially before him, and no doubt the balm referred to was again that of Gilead. His high appreciation of the curative power of the balm is implied in this passage. It is as if he had said—The cure of Babylon is hopeless, as the wound would be which Gilead's precious balın could not cure. “We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed” (li, 9)..
The only other passage in which this word occurs is Ezekiel xxvii. 17. In the “lamentation over Tyrus” the merchants who frequented her mart are named along with their characteristic merchandise, and among these the Hebrews are specially noticed—“Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy merchants: they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm.” The articles mentioned here with the balın point again to the best of their kind. The "wheat of Minnith, and the Pannag,” are considered under the verse now quoted, and the “ oil and honey" under 2 Kings xviii. 32. Meanwhile it may be held that the balm spoken of by Ezekiel was the “balm of Gilead.” The two branches of the once united kingdom are specially mentioned by the prophet as trading with Tyre-exchanging what had become the characteristics of their respective districts for the foreign wares which found their way into the ports of Phoenicia. Gilead belonged to Israel, and Jericho, noted for its gardens with their balmyielding trees, belonged to Judah. The district in which Minnith stood, though at this time under tribute to Judah, bordered on the southeastern territory of Israel, and both may have traded in its wheat. Oil and honey abounded in both localities, and pannag would be found in both likewise.
It is thus evident from the words of Scripture, that the tzeri, or balm, was rare, and highly prized for its curative virtues. The tree from which it was obtained flourished in earliest times in Gilead. Long before the Jews obtained possession of Canaan, Gilead was frequented by Arabian merchants, for the purpose of carrying its balm down to Egypt. When, however, the Hebrew state advanced in luxury, and sought to satisfy its growing wants with foreign produce, balm became in their hands an article of commerce. The fact that both Israel and Judah are represented by Ezekiel, after the breaking up of the kingdom into two parts, as trading with Tyre in balm, whence it would reach Greece and Rome, shows that it was not at that date limited to Gilead. The notices to be met with in other quarters are corroborative of these general deductions from the Bible references.
The last Scriptural notice of balm was by Ezekiel, B.c. 595, and the
erence to it. The DJ PA
earliest allusion to it in profane history is connected with the visit of Alexander the Great to Palestine, about B.C. 332. Even then it was very scarce and precious; not more than would fill an oyster shell could be collected during any one day, when the incision made in the bark was running most freely. Particular
Fig. 105. mention is made of it about this time by Theophrastus in his History of Plants, in whose day balm sold for its weight in silver. Pliny and Strabo, about the beginning of the Christian era, make special reference to it. The former notices its existence in Palestine, the latter says it is to be met with about “ Saba—the happy land of the Sabeans.” The notice of Strabo is interesting when associated with the account of the visit of the queen of Saba, or Sheba, to Solomon :" They say also that we possess the root of that balsam, which our country still bears, by this woman's gift.”—(Antiq. viii. c. vi. 6.)
Balm of Gilead (Balsamodendron Gileadense). About B.C. 65, the Roman general Pompey conquered Palestine, Josephus twice notices the “balsam-tree” in connection with Pompey's wars. “When,” he says, “Pompey had pitched his camp at Jericho, where the palm-trees grow, and that balsam which is an ointment of all the most precious, which, upon any incision made in the wood with a sharp stone, distils out thence like a juice, he marched in the morning to Jerusalem” (Antiq. xiv. c. iv. 1). And in his work on the “Wars of the Jews," he says as to the district around Jericho—“Now, here is the most fruitful country of Judæa, which bears a vast number of palm-trees, besides the balsam-tree, whose sprouts they cut with sharp stones, and at the incisions they gather the juice, which drops down like tears” (b. i. c. vi. 6). Jericho and the adjacent region were given by Antony to Cleopatra, B.C. 38. "When," says the Jewish historian, “Cleopatra had obtained this much, and had accompanied Antony in his expedition to Armenia, as far as Euphrates, she returned back, and came to Apamia and Damascus, and passed on to Judæa, where Herod met her, and farmed her parts of Arabia, and those revenues that came to her from the region about Jericho. This country bears that balsam,
which is the most precious drug that is there, and grows there alone" (Antiq. xv. c. iv. 2).
In the triumph which Pompey obtained on his return to Rome from his eastern wars, and in that voted to Vespasian 144 years after (A.D. 79), the tree from which the precious balm was obtained was exhibited to the people on the streets of Rome, as one of the things which bore testimony to the complete subjugation of the land, from which balm had been brought for generations by the merchants of Phoenicia to the Imperial city. (Pliny, b. xii. 25.) Quotations might be multiplied from classical authorities, all showing how highly esteemed the balm was by the ancients, and the burden of these would be found similar to the testimony of sacred writers. A review then of the literature of this subject leads us to conclude—(1) That the balm mentioned in the Bible was earliest obtained from trees which grew in Gilead, and that later Jericho became noted for its gardens of the same species of trees. This does not, however, shed any light on the region of which the balsam-yielding tree was a native. (2) That the often repeated notice of Saba, Seba, or Sheba, in connection with the precious balm, points to that locality as one to which this tree was indigenous. It is a strong corroboration of this that Bruce, the Abyssinian traveller, found the tree growing in certain valleys of Arabia Felix. He no doubt believes that the true Sheba is represented by the district Azab on the African coast, near the Straits of Babelmandel, and supposes that it had been originally carried across the Red Sea and planted in Arabia, whence it was taken to Gilead. This would make it an African plant. But while there cannot now be the slightest doubt that Bruce saw the plant, his account still leaves the native country of the balm-yielding tree a matter of uncertainty. (3) That the shrub from which the precious balm was obtained was very rare. It still continues to be so. This circumstance goes very far to assist in the identification of the plant. Many resin-producing trees have been named, any one of which, it is alleged, may have yielded this substance. But had it been so, it is not possible such importance would have been attached to the product called by so many different names, while each name points to the same plant. It was called Balm of Gilead, Balsam of Jericho, Balsam of Judæa, and Balsam of Mecca.
The tzeri, or balm, was named according to the mode in which it was obtained from the tree. There was—1. Opobalsam, or that which trickled like tears from the incision made in the bark. This was the most precious kind. It has always been scarce, and is now hardly pro