By: George A. Barton
Translation of , occurring four times in the Old Testament (Num. xxiv. 6, Ps. xlv. 8, Prov. vii. 17, Cant. iv. 14), and of ἀλόη in the New(John, xix. 39). In all these passages, with the exception of the first, it signifies a perfume used upon garments or a bed. It was the gum of the Aloexylon and Aquilaria ovata of Malacca and of A. agallochum of Bengal (Toy, "Proverbs," p. 153, in "International Critical Commentary"), and not the wood itself. It was distinct from the common bitter aloe used in medicine and from the American aloe ("Encyc. Bibl."). In Num. xxiv. 6 the word indicates a tree; but that a tree of southeastern Asia should be known to an eighth-century Israelitish poet sufficiently to be used in a simile is more than doubtful. In the Septuagint, in the passage in question, the word is rendered "tents"; but the occurrence of "gardens" before it and of "cedars" after it compels us to look for a tree of some kind. Dillmann (Com. to Num. xxiv. 6, 2d ed., p. 157) conjectures that the word was originally (compare Ex. xv. 27, Gen. xiv. 6). signifies also terebinth (compare Septuagint to Gen. xiv. 6), and this would accord with the context quite as well.