What is…

This word is a contraction of the word Bal'sam, a general name for many oily or resinous substances which flow or trickle from certain trees or plants when an incision is made through the bark.

  1. Hebrew: צְרִי —transliteration: tsori, tseri, or tsory

    Tsori comes from a root meaning “to crack (as by pressure), hence, to leak; distillation, i.e. Balsam—balm”

    This word occurs in the King James Version (Genesis 37:25; 43:11; Jeremiah 8:22; 46:11; 51:8; Ezek. 27:17) as the translation of the Hebrew word tsori, which denotes the gum of a tree growing in Gilead, which is very precious.

    Is there no balm in Gilead,
    Is there no physician there?
    Why then is there no recovery
    For the health of the daughter of my people? —Jeremiah 8:22 KJV

    Go up to Gilead and obtain balm,
    O virgin daughter of Egypt!
    In vain have you multiplied remedies;
    There is no healing for you. —Jeremiah 46:11 NASB

    It was celebrated for its medicinal qualities, and was circulated as an article of merchandise by Arab and Phoenician merchants. The shrub so named was highly valued, and was almost peculiar to Israel.

    In the time of Josephus, it was cultivated in the neighborhood of Jericho and the Dead Sea.

    There is an Arab tradition that the tree yielding this balm was brought by the queen of Sheba as a present to Solomon, and that he planted it in his gardens at Jericho.

  2. Hebrew: בֶּשֶׂם—transliteration: bosem or basam

    This word comes from a root meaning to be fragrant.

    Bosem (basam) is the Hebrew word from which our English word “balsam,” as well as the corresponding Greek βάλσαμον (balsamon), is derived.

    It is translated as “spice” (Song of Songs 5:1, 13; 6:2; margin of Revised King James Version, “balsam;” Exodus 35:28; 1 Kings 10:10), and denotes fragrance in general.

    Bosem also denotes the true balsam-plant, a native of South Arabia (Song of Songs l).

Article Version: December 7, 2018