Bdellium (Hebrew "bedolach") was an aromatic gum like
myrrhthat was exuded from a tree. It has been identified with the species " Commiphora wightii", now called guggul, although "bdellium" was also used for the African species "C. africana" and at least one other Indian species, "C. stocksiana". [J. Innes Miller, "The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), pp. 69ff. Miller refers to this species by its synonym, "C. mukul".] Bdellium was an adulterant of the more costly myrrh ("Commiphora myrrha"); guggul is still used as a binder in perfumes.
The word occurs only twice in the
Hebrew Bible. The first is in Genesis 2:12, where it is described as a product of the land of Havilah; the context has led some readers to link "bedolach" with pearls or other precious stones. [ The " Idra Rabba" (128b) describes the appearance of the dew descending from the Head of Arich Anpinas being "white like the color of the bedolach stone, in which all colors are seen". [http://www.barmitzva.org/Kabbalah/Openings/089.htm the Kabbalistic "138 Openings of Wisdom":Opening 89] ] Bdellium is mentioned once again, as something familiar, in Numbers 11:7, where mannais compared to it in color:
:"Now the manna was like "zera gad" [coriander seed] , and its appearance as the appearance of "bedolach."
Bdellium appears in a number of ancient sources. In Akkadian, it was known as "budulhu". [Miller, "Spice Trade", p. 69.]
Theophrastusis the first classical author to mention it, and Plautusthe second in his play "Curculio". Pliny the Elderdescribes it as a "tree black in colour, and the size of the olive; its leaf resembles that of the oakand its fruit the wild fig" ("N.H." 12.19). It was an ingredient in the prescriptions of ancient physicians from Galento Paul of Aegina, and in the " Greater Kuphi". [Miller, "Spice Trade", p. 71.]
Middle English, from Latin, from Greek "bdellion", variant of "bdolkhon", of Semitic origin; akin to Akkadian "budulhu".
*Harvard reference | Surname=Dalby | Given=Andrew | Authorlink=Andrew Dalby | Title=Food in the ancient world from A to Z | Publisher=Routledge | Place=London/New York | Year=2003 | ISBN=0415232597 , pp. 226-227.
* [http://www.alchemy-works.com/incense_bdellium.html Alchemy-works:] Bdellium
* [http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/3664/bdellium.html Bdellium]
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