Aromatics

Aromatics (from the Gr. ἄρωμα, a pleasant smell) is a general term including all those odoriferous substances denoted by several Hebrew words, frequently designated as " spices" in the Auth. Vers., e.g. ahalim ('aloes"), "alnmug" or "afgum," bedolach ("bdellium"), chelbenah ("galbanum"), basam, or balsam, kaneh ("calamus"), ketsioth and kiddah ("cassia"), "cinnamon," lebonah, ("frankincense"), lot and mor ("myrrh"), nerd ("spikenard"), nata f(" stacte"), tseri ("balm"), shecheleth ("onycha"), also rekach, bosen or besen, sammnim, and nekoth ("spice"), all which see in their alphabetical place, and compare "mint," "rue," "anise," "thyine wood," etc., mentioned in the N.T. It is difficult to determine the exact products which the most of the words refer to, but when they are separately noticed, especially when several are enumerated, their names may lead us to their identification. Dr. Vincent has observed that "in Exodus 30 we find an, enumeration of cinnamon, cassia, myrrh, frankincense, stacte, onycha, and galbanum, all of which are the produce either of India or Arabia." More correctly, cinnamon, cassia, frankincense, and onycha were probably obtained from India; myrrh, stacte, and some frankincense, from the east coast of Africa, and galbanum from Persia. More than 1000 years later, or about B.C. 588, in Ezekiel 27 the chief spices are referred to, with the addition, however, of calamus. They are probably the same as those just enumerated. Dr. Vincent refers chiefly to the Perip us, ascribed to Arrian, written in the second century, as furnishing a proof that many Indian substances were at that time well known to commerce, as aloe or agila wood, gum bdellium, the googal of India, cassia and cinnamon, nard, costus, incense that is, olibanumginger, pepper, and spices. If we examine the work of Dioscorides, we shall find all these, and several other Indian products, not only mentioned, but described, as schoenanthus, calamus aromaticus cyperus, malabathrum, turmeric. Among others, Lycium indicum is mentioned. This is the extract of barberry root, and is prepared in the Himalayan Mountains (Royle, on the Lycium of Dioscorides, Lincenan Trans.). It is not unworthy of notice that we find no mention of several very remarkable products of the East, such as camphor, cloves, nutmeg, betel-leaf, cubebs, gamboge, all of which are so peculiar in their nature that we could not have failed to recognise them if they had been described at all, like those we have enumerated as the produce of India. These omissions are significant of the countries to which commerce and navigation had not extended at the time when the other articles were well known (Hindoo Medicine, p. 93). If we trace these up to still earlier authors, we shall find many of them mentioned by Theophrastus, and even by Hippocrates, and if we trace them downward to the time of the Arabs, and from that to modern times, we find many of them described under their present names in works current throughout the East, and in which their ancient names are given as synonyms. We have, therefore, as much assurance as is possible in such cases, that the majority of the substances mentioned by the ancients have been identified; and that among the spices- of early times were included many of those which now form articles of commerce from India to Europe. SEE SPICERY, SEE PERFUME.

 
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