Bdellium (Hebrew "bedolach") was an aromatic gum like myrrh that 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 Anpin as being "white like the color of the bedolach stone, in which all colors are seen". [ the Kabbalistic "138 Openings of Wisdom":Opening 89] ] Bdellium is mentioned once again, as something familiar, in Numbers 11:7, where manna is 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.] Theophrastus is the first classical author to mention it, and Plautus the second in his play "Curculio". Pliny the Elder describes it as a "tree black in colour, and the size of the olive; its leaf resembles that of the oak and its fruit the wild fig" ("N.H." 12.19). It was an ingredient in the prescriptions of ancient physicians from Galen to 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".


Further reading

*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.

External links

* [ Alchemy-works:] Bdellium
* [ Bdellium]

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  • BDELLIUM — Graece Βδέλλιον, diminutiv. a Βδέλλα, quomodo aliquot locis Auctori Pertpli vocatur; Bedella, Marcello Empirico, crocon atque bedellam: apud Plantum in antiquis libris Bedellium, Salmasio est ex Hebraeo Bedolach, quae vox occurrit Numer. c. 11. v …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • BDELLIUM — (Heb. בְּדֹלַח) twice mentioned in the Scriptures, once in the description of the land of Havilah, which contained gold, bdellium, and onyx stone (Gen. 2:12), and again in the description of the manna, its appearance was as the appearance of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • bdellium — del lium, n. [L., fr. Gr. bde llion; cf. Heb. b dolakh bdellium (in sense 1).] 1. An unidentified substance mentioned in the Bible ( Gen. ii. 12, and Num. xi. 7), variously taken to be a gum, a precious stone, or pearls, or perhaps a kind of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bdellium — BDELLIUM. s. m. Arbre qui croît dans les Indes et dans l Arabie Heureuse. Il est épineux. On en tire une gomme nommée aussi Bdellium. On l eruploie particulièrement contre la toux, et dans les maladies du poumon …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Bdellĭum — (Gummi bdellii), Schleimharz von einer noch unbekannten Pflanze, kommt aus Arabien u. Ostindien, ist rothbraun, mehr od. weniger durchsichtig, zwischen den Zähnen klebrig, von myrrhenartigem Geruch, bitterlicharomatischem Geschmack; sonst… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Bdellĭum — Bdellĭum, Gummiharz von Commiphora Roxburghii Engl. im nordwestlichen Indien und Belutschistan, ist braun oder grünlich, riecht wie Myrrhe, schmeckt bitter, erweicht beim Kauen, findet sich als Beimischung in der Myrrhe und wird in Indien… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Bdellium — Bdellium, ein balsamisches Harz, der Myrrhe ähnlich, das indische von Amyris Commiphora, das afrikanische von Heudolotia africana; im Handel in rundlichen Massen mit muscheligem Bruch, scharf und bitter schmeckend. Räucherwerk …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • bdellium — [bdeljɔm] n. m. ÉTYM. Probablt XVIe (attesté 1690, Furetière); mot lat., empr. au grec bdellion (francisé au XVe en bedelle); cf. bidellion en angl., 1398. ❖ ♦ Didact. Substance résineuse et balsamique provenant d arbres exotiques (balsamodendron …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • bdellium — [del′ē əm] n. [ME < L < Gr bdellion; of Sem orig. (as in Assyr budulḥu, Heb bedolach)] 1. a myrrhlike gum resin 2. any of a genus (Commiphora) of trees of the bursera family yielding this 3. Bible a jewel variously interpreted as being a… …   English World dictionary

  • Bdellium — Le Bdellium (du grec bdellion / en hébreu bedolach) est une Gomme résine que l on faisait venir des Indes orientales, d Afrique et d Arabie par les routes commerciales du Levant. Les botanistes ont longtemps débattu sur la nature de l arbre qui… …   Wikipédia en Français

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