ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia

frankincense

Hebrew: lebonah; Greek: libanos, i.e., “white”)

an odorous resin imported from Arabia (Isa. 60:6; Jer. 6:20), yet also growing in Israel (Song of Songs 4:14)

It was one of the ingredients in the perfume of the sanctuary (Ex. 30:34), and was used as an accompaniment of the meat-offering (Lev. 2:1, 16; 6:15; 24:7). When burnt it emitted a fragrant odour, and hence the incense became a symbol of the Divine name (Mal. 1:11; Song of Songs 1:3) and an emblem of prayer (Ps. 141:2; Luke 1:10; Rev. 5:8; 8:3).

This frankincense, or olibanum, used by the Jews in the temple services is not to be confounded with the frankincense of modern commerce, which is an exudation of the Norway spruce fir, the Pinus abies. It was probably a resin from the Indian tree known to botanists by the name of Boswellia serrata or thurifera, which grows to the height of forty feet.