(נָטָŠ, nataph; Sept. στακτή; Vulg. stacte), the name of one of the sweet spices which composed the holy incense (see Ex 30:34): "And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte (nataph), and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense. Thou shalt make it a perfume after the art of the apothecary" (ver. 35). The Heb. word occurs once again (Job 36:27), where it is used to denote simply "a drop" of water. Nataph has been variously translated balsam, liquid styrax, benzoin, oostus, mastich, bdellium. Celsius is of opinion that it means the purest kind of myrrh, called stacte by the Greeks. SEE MOR. He adduces Pliny (12, 35) as saying of the, myrrh trees, "Sudant, sponte stacten dictam," and remarks, "Ebraeis נטŠ nathaf est stillare" — adding, as an argument, that if you do not translate it myrrh in this place, you will exclude myrrh altogether from the sacred perfume (Hierob. 1, 529). But Rosenmüller says, "This, however, would not be suited for the preparation of the perfume, and it also has another Hebrew name, for it is called mor deror. But the Greeks also called stakte a species of storax gum, which Dioscorides describes as transparent like a tear and resembling myrrh (see Pliny, 13, 2; Athen. 15, 688; Dioseor. 1, 73, 77). This agrees well with the Hebrew name" (Bibl. Bot. p. 164). The Sept; στακτή (from στάζω, "to drop") is the exact translation of the Hebrew word. Now Dioscorides describes two kinds of στακτή — one is the fresh gum of the myrrh tree (Balsamodendron myrrha) mixed with water and squeezed out through a press (1, 74); the other kind, which he calls, from the manner in which it is prepared, σκωληκίτης στύραξ, denotes the resin of the storax adulterated with wax and fat (1, 79). The true stacte of the Greek writers points to the distillation from the myrrh tree, of which, according to Theophrastus (Fr. 4, 29, ed. Schneider), both a natural and an artificial kind were known. Perhaps the nataph denotes the storax gum, but all that is positively known is that it signifies an odorous distillation from some plant. The Arabs apply the term netaf to a sweetmeat composed of sugar, flour, and butter, in equal parts, with the addition of aromatics (see Bodaei a Stapel Comment. ad Theoph. p. 984; Hartmann, Hebraerin, 1, 307; 6, 110 sq.; Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 879; Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 395). SEE ANOINTING OIL; SEE SPICE.
The storax (Styrax officinale) is a native of Syria. With its leaves like the poplar, downy underneath, and with sweet-scented snow-white flowers clustered on the extremities of the branches, it grows to a height of fifteen or twenty feet. The reddish-yellow gum resin which exudes from the bark, and which is highly fragrant, contains benzoic and cinnamic acids. From the kindred plant, Styrax benzoin, a native of Borneo and Java, is obtained the benzoin or benjamin which the Hindu burn in their temples a circumstance strongly in favor of the hypothesis that the stacte of Exodus is a storax. SEE POPLAR.