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Home Page > Aromatherapy Article Archive > Aromatic Botanicals of the Bible

Aromatic Botanicals of the Bible

Holy BibleAt least nineteen aromatic botanicals are referenced in the Old and New Testament books of the Bible. These botanicals were used to make anointing oils, perfumes, incense, medicinals, hair oils, skin care products of the day and/or other natural aromatics. A majority of the natural botanicals mentioned in the Bible are now distilled into essential oils. Others like aloeswood are still available for use as incense.

Below is a list of the nineteen aromatic botanicals mentioned in the Bible with an example passage displayed for each botanical. I am using Old Testament references wherever possible.

Aromatic botanicals that are available as essential oils and have an Essential Oil Profile on AromaWeb are linked to the corresponding Essential Oil Profile page.

Aloeswood
Aloeswood is a rare and precious wood that is burned as incense. The Japanese, for instance, find the smoke to be calming and entrancing, especially suitable for meditation.

"Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choices fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes [aloeswood] and all the finest spices."
— Song of Songs 5:13-14 (NIV)


Calamus
Calamus is considered a hazardous/toxic oil.

"Danites and Greeks from Uzal bought your merchandise; they exchanged wrought iron, cassia and calamus for your wares.
— Ezekiel 27:19 (NIV)


Cassia

"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia — all according to the sanctuary shekel — and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer.'"
— Exodus 30: 23-26 (NIV)


Cedarwood

"To purify the house his is to take two birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop..."
— Leviticus 14:49


Cinammon

"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia — all according to the sanctuary shekel — and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer.'"
— Exodus 30: 23-26 (NIV)


Cistus/Rock Rose/Rose of Sharon

"I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys."
— Song of Songs 2:1 (NIV)


Cypress

"I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it."
— Isaiah 41:19-20 (NIV)


Fir

" The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the pine, the fir and the cypress together, to adorn the place of my sanctuary; and I will glorify the place of my feet."
— Isaiah 60:13 (NIV)


Frankincense

"Who is this coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense made from all the spices of the merchant?"
— Song of Songs 3:6 (NIV)


Galbanum

"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Take fragrant spices — gum resin, onycha and galbanum — and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer.'"
— Exodus 30:34-35 (NIV)


Hyssop

"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."
— Psalm 5:7


Juniper
The Broom Tree, as referenced in Psalm 120, is thought to be a juniper shrub that grows in Palestine (This passage can be looked at in several ways, one being that the juniper was used to cleanse, purify and eliminate that which is false and negative.):

"He will punish you with a warrior's sharp arrows, with burning coals of the broom tree."
— Psalm 120:4 (NIV)


Myrrh

"...with myrrh and aloes [aloeswood] and all the finest spices."
— Song of Songs 4:14 (NIV)


Myrtle

"I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it."
— Isaiah 41:19-20 (NIV)


Onycha (Styrax Benzoin)

"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Take fragrant spices — gum resin, onycha and galbanum — and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer.'"
— Exodus 30:34-35 (NIV)


Pine

" The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the pine, the fir and the cypress together, to adorn the place of my sanctuary; and I will glorify the place of my feet."
— Isaiah 60:13 (NIV)


Saffron

"Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choices fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices."
— Song of Songs 5:13-14 (NIV)


Sandalwood
Almugwood, as used in 1 Kings is thought to be red sandalwood:

"And she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. (Hiram's ships brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood and precious stones. The king used the almugwood to make supports for the temple of the Lord and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has never been imported or seen since that day.)"
— 1 Kings 10:10-12 (NIV)


Spikenard

"Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choices fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices."
— Song of Songs 5:13-14 (NIV)

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