Balm: Contracted from 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. This word occurs in the Authorized Version
(Genesis 37:25; 43:11)
(Jeremiah 8:22; 46:11; 51:8; Ezekiel 27:17) as the rendering of the
Hebrew word tsori or tseri, which denotes the gum of a tree
growing in Gilead (q.v.), which is very precious. 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
Palestine. In the time of Josephus it was cultivated in the
neighbourhood 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. There is another Hebrew word, basam or bosem, from which our
word "balsam," as well as the corresponding Greek balsamon, is
derived. It is rendered "spice"
(The Song of Solomon 5:1,13; 6:2) margin of Revised
(Exodus 35:28; 1 Kings 10:10) and denotes fragrance in
general. Basam also denotes the true balsam-plant, a native of
South Arabia (Cant. l.c.).