(only in the plur. אֲהָלַים ahalitm', Nu 24:6, Sept. σκηναί, Vulg. tabernacula; Pr 7:17, Sept. οικον, Vulg. aloe, A.V. "aloes;" or fem. אֲהָלוֹת, ahaloth', Ps 45:8, Sept. στακτή, Vulg. gutta, A.V. "aloes;" Song 4:14, ἀλώθ, aloe, "aloes"), a kind of perfume which interpreters have by common consent regarded as derived from some Oriental tree, and compared with the agallochum (ἀγάλλοχον) or aloe-wood (ξυλαλόη), described by Dioscorides (1:21) in the following terms: "It is a wood brought from India and Arabia, resembling thyine- wood, compact, fragrant, astringent to the taste, with great bitterness; having a skin-like bark.... . It is burned for frankincense." Pliny likewise speaks of it as being derived from the same region (Nat. Mist. 27:5). Later writers, as Orobasius, AEtius, and P. AEgineta, mention it, but give no further description. Arabic authors, however, as Rhases, Serapion, and others, were well acquainted with the substance, of which they describe several varieties; and the Latin translator of Avicenna (52:132) gives "agallochum," "xylaloe," and "lignum aloes" as equivalent to the aghlajûn, aghalûkhi, and ûd of the text. Royle (Illustr. of Himal. Bot. page 171) has traced the same substance in the aggur, a famous aromatic wood obtained in the bazaars of Northern India under three names: 1, aod-i-hindi; 2, a variety procured from Surat, but not differing essentially from 3, aod-i- kimari, said to come from China, doubtless the alcanmerium of Avicenna. Garcias ab Hosto (Clusius, Exot. Hist.), writing on this subject near Surat, says that "it is called in Malacca garo, but the choicest sort calambac." Paul a Bartholin (in Vyacarana, page 205) likewise distinguishes three sorts, "one common, very odorous, and of great price, called aghil; the black, which is termed kár-aghhil or kal-agam; the third, producing a flower, named mogarim, properly mangalyam or malligandhiyal."
There is considerable confusion among naturalists in their attempts to identify the exact tree which yields the far-famed wood. "Dr. Roxburgh states that uguru is the Sanscrit name of the incense or aloe-wood, which in Hindostanee is called ugur, and in Persian aod-hindi, and that there is little doubt that the real calambac, or agallochum of the ancients, is yielded by an immense tree, a native of the mountainous tracts east of and southeast from Silhet, in about 24° of N. latitude. This plant, he says, cannot be distinguished from thriving plants, exactly of the same age, of the Garo de Malacca, received from that place, and growing in the garden of Calcutta. He further states that small quantities of agallochum are sometimes imported into Calcutta by sea from the eastward, but that such is always deemed inferior to that of Silhet (Flora Ind. 2:423). The Garo de Malacca was first described by Lamarck (Encyclopädie Methodique, 1:47 sq.), from a specimen presented to him by Sonnerat as that of the tree which yielded the bois d'aigle of commerce. Lamarck named this tree Aquilaria Malaccensis, which Cavanilles afterwards changed unnecessarily to Aquilariac ouvata. As Dr. Roxburgh found that his plant belonged to the same genus, he named it Aquilaria agallochum, but it is printed Agallocha in his Flora Indica, probably by an oversight. He is of opinion that the Agallochum secundarium of Rumphius (Herb. Amb. 2:34, t. 10), which that author received tinder the name of Agallochum Malaccense, also belongs to the same genus, as well as the Sinfu of Kaempfer (Amaen. Exot. page 903), and the Ophispermum sinense of Loureiro. This last- named missionary describes a third plant, which he names Aloexylum agaellochulln, representing it as a large tree growing in the lofty mountains of Champava, belonging to Cochin China, about 13° of IT. lat. near the great river Lavum, and producing calambac (Flora Cochin Chinenisis, edit. Wildenow, 1:327). This tree, belonging to the class and order Decandria monogynia of Linnaeus, and the natural family of Leguaminosae, has always been admitted as one of the trees yielding agallochum. But, as Loureiro himself confesses that he had only once seen a mutilated branch of the tree in flower, which, by long carriage, had the petals, anthers, and stigma much bruised and torn, it is not impossible that this may also belong to the genus Aquilaria, especially as his tree agrees in so many points with that described by Dr. Roxburgh. Rumphius has described and figured a third plant, which he named Arbor excaecans, from 'Blindhout,' in consequence of its acrid juice destroying sight, whence the generic name of Excaecaria; the specific one of agallochum he applied because its wood is similar to, and often substituted for agallochum, and he states that it was sometimes exported as such to Europe, and even to China. This tree, the Exccecaria agallochum, of the Linnaean class and order Dimecia triandria, and the natural family of Euphorbiaecae, is also very common in the delta of the Ganges, where it is called Geria; 'but the wood-cutters of the Sunderbunds,' Dr. Roxburgh says, 'who are the people best acquainted with the nature of this tree, report the pale, white, milky juice thereof to be highly acrid and very dangerous.' The only use made of the tree, as far as Dr. Roxburgh could learn, was for charcoal and firewood. Agallochum of any sort is, he believed, never found in this tree, which is often the only one quoted as that yielding agila-wood; but, notwithstanding the negative testimony of Dr. Roxburgh, it may, in particular situations, as stated by Rumphius, yield a substitute for that fragrant and longfamed wood. In Arabian authors numerous varieties of agallochum are mentioned (Celsus, Hierobot. page 143). Persian authors mention only three:
1. Aod-i-hindi; that is, the Indian; 2. Aod-i-chini, or Chinese kind (probably that from Cochin China); 3. Sumunduri, a term generally applied to things brought from sea, which may have reference to the inferior variety from the Indian islands.
In old works, such as those of Bauhin and Ray, three kinds are also mentioned:
1. Agallochum praestantissimum, also called Calambac; 2. A. Officinarum, or Palo de Aguilla of Linschoten; 3. A. sylvestre, or Aguillae brava.
But, besides these varieties, obtained from different localities, perhaps from different plants, there are also distinct varieties, obtainable from the same plant. Thus, in a MS. account by Dr. Roxburgh, to which Dr. Royle had access, it is stated, in a letter from B1. K. Dick, at Silhet, that four different qualities may be obtained from the same tree: 1st, Ghurki, which sinks in water, and sells from 12 to 16 rupees per seer of 2 lbs.; 2d, Doinl, 6 to 8 rupees per seer; 3d, Siniula, which floats in water, 3 to 4 rupees; and 4, 4th, Chrunm, which is in small pieces, and also floats in water, from 1 to 1 1/2 rupees per seer, and that sometimes 80 lbs. of these four kinds may be obtained from one tree. All these tuggur-trees, as they are called, do not produce the aggur, nor does every part of even the most productive tree. The natives cut into the wood until they observe dark-colored veins yielding the perfume; these guide them to the place containing the aggur, which generally extends but a short way through the center of the trunk or branch. An essence, or attur, is obtained by bruising the wood in a mortar, and then infusing it in boiling water, when the attur floats on the surface. Early decay does not seem incident to all kinds of agallochum, for we possess specimens of the wood gorged with fragrant resin (Illustr. Him. Bot. page 173) which show no symptoms of it, but still it is stated that the wood is sometimes buried in the earth. This may be for the purpose of increasing its specific gravity. A large specimen in the museum of the East- India House displays a cancellated structure in which the resinous parts remain, the rest of the wood having been removed, apparently by decay." Notwithstanding the uncertainty respecting the identity of some of the above-described varieties, we have, at all events, two trees ascertained as yielding this fragrant wood — one, Aquilaria agallochum, a native of Silhet, and the other A. ovata or Mallaccensis, a native of Malacca, although it is still not clear that they are anything more than local variations of the same species. The former is described as a magnlicent tree, growing to the height of 120 feet, being 12 feet in girth. "The bark of the trunk is smooth and ash-colored, that of the branches gray and lightly striped with brown. The wood is white, and very light and soft. It is totally without smell, and the leaves, bark, and flowers are equally inodorous" (Script. Heb. page 238). The fragrance appears to reside wholly in the resin deposited in the pores, and is developed by heat. Both plants belong to the Linnaean class and order Decandria monogynia, and the natural family of Aquilarineae.
"It is extremely interesting to find that the Malay name of the substance in question, which is agila, is so little different from the ahalim of the Hebrew; not more, indeed, than may be observed in many well-known words, where the hard g of one languasge is turned into the aspirate in another. It is therefore probable that it was by the name agila (aghil in Rosenmüller, Biblic. Bot. page 234) that this wood was first known in commerce, being conveyed across the bay of Bengal to the island of Ceylon or the peninsula of India, which the Arab or Phoenician traders visited at very remote periods, and where they obtained the early-known spices and precious stones of India. It is not a little curious that captain Hamilton (Account of the East Insdies, 1:68) mentions it by the name of agala, an odoriferous wood at Muscat. We know that the Portuguese, when they reached the eastern coast from the peninsula, obtained it under this name, whence they called it pao d'aguila, or eagle-wood, which is the origin of the generic name Aquilaria.
"It must be confessed, however, that, notwithstanding all that has been written to prove the identity of the ahalim-trees with the aloes-wood of commerce, and notwithstanding the apparent connection of the Hebrew word with the Arabic aghlagûn and the Greek agallochon, the opinion is not clear of difficulties. In the first place, the passage in Nu 24:6,
'as the ahalim which Jehovah hath planted,' is an argument against the identification with the Aquiluria agallochum. The Sept. seem to have read אַהָלַים, ohalim', tents; and they are followed by the Vulg., the Syriac, the Arabic, and some other versions. If this is not the true reading — and the context is against it — then if ahalim be the Aq. agallochum, we must suppose that Balaam is speaking of trees concerning which, in their growing state, he could have known nothing at all. Rosenmuller (Schol. in V.T. ad Nu 24:6) allows that this tree is not found in Arabia, but thinks that Balaam might have become acquainted with it from the merchants. Perhaps the prophet might have seen the wood. But the passage in Numbers manifestly implies that he had seen the ahalim growing, and that in all probability they were some kind of trees sufficiently known to the Israelites to enable them to understand the allusion in its full force. But if the ahalim be the agallochum, then much of the illustration would have been lost to the people who were the subject of the prophecy; for the Aq. agallochum is found neither on the banks of the Euphrates, where Balaam lived, nor in Moab, where the blessing was enunciated. Michaelis (Supp. pages 34, 35) believes the Sept. reading to be the correct one, though he sees no difficulty, but rather a beauty, in supposing that Balaam was drawing a similitude from a tree of foreign growth. He confess that the parallelism of the verse is more in favor of the tree than the tent; but he objects that the lign-aloes should be mentioned before the cedars, the parallelism requiring, he thinks, the inverse order. But this is hardly a valid objection, for what tree was held in greater estimation than the cedar? And even if ahalim be the Aq. agallochum, yet the latter clause of the verse does no violence to the law of parallelism, for of the two trees the cedar 'is greater and more august.' Again, the passage in Ps 45:8 would perhaps be more correctly translated thus: 'The myrrh, aloes, and cassia, perfuming all thy garments, brought from the ivory palaces of the Minni, shall make thee glad.' The Minni, or Minaei, were inhabitants of spicy Arabia, and carried on a great trade in the exportation of spices and perfumes (Pliny, 12:14, 16; Boclhart, Phaleg, 2:22, 135). As the myrrh and cassia are mentioned as coming from the Minni, and were doubtless natural prodiuctions of the country, the inference is that aloes, being named with them, were also a production of the same region." But SEE MINNI.
See generally Abulfeda, in Busching's Magazin, 4:277; Bokin, in Notices et Extraits de la Biblioth. du Roi, 2:397; Linneus, Pflanzensystem nach
Houttyn (Nounb. 1777), 2:422 sq.; Michaelis, Supplem. page 32; Wahl, Ostindien, 2:772; the Fundgruben des Orients. 5:372; Bondi, Or-Esther, page 13; Sylv. de Saez, ad Abdollatiphi Descrip. AEg. page 320. SEE ALOE.