BALM: The rendering in both English versions
of the Hebrew ẓori (Gen. xxxvii, 25
and xliii, 11, where R. V. has “mastic" in the margin;
Jer. viii, 22; xlvi, 11;
Ezek. xxvii, 17).
An important product of Palestine, particularly of the
East-Jordan country, is evidently referred to, and the
transparent, yellowish-white, fragrant gum of the
mastic-tree (Pistacia lentiscus, L) is
probably meant. Pliny mentions the Judean mastic
(Hist. nat., xiv, 122 sqq.). The substance was prized by
the ancients as a medicine (Pliny, xxiv, 32 sqq.).
The identification of ẓori with balsam by Jewish
tradition is not correct; such a tropical or
sub-tropical product would hardly be found on the
mountains of Gilead. In Song of Sol. v, 1, basam
may be the true balsam (so R. V., margin; text and
A. V., “spice"; cf. “bed of spices,” v, 13; vi, 2).
It grew in the Ghor, and the balsam gardens of
Jericho were famous (Josephus, Ant., IX, i, 2; XIV,
iv, 1, and many others). Pompey is said to have
carried it thence to Rome, and Josephus thought
the Queen of Sheba brought it to Palestine (Ant.,
VIII, vi, 6; cf. I Kings x, 10).
There are several varieties, of which the chief is the Amyris
Gileadensis, L, the true Arabian or Mecca balsam. It is a
low, berry-producing tree, with small blossoms, and
imparipinnate leaves. The balsam exudes from
the ends of the twigs. Myrrh also belongs to the
balsamodendra and probably bdellium; see