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Aloes

ALOES ăl’ ōz (֝אֲהָלִ֗ים, ἀλόν, Aloë succotrina). Aloes are mentioned both in the OT and NT in connection with incense, scent or perfume (Num 24:6; Ps 45:8; Prov 7:17; [[Song of Solomon]]; and John 19:39). The perfume of the true aloe comes from the island of Socotra at the lower end of the Red Sea, hence the Lat. name, aloë succotrina. It is thought, however, that the aloe mentioned in the OT is either the Aquilaria agallocha (Roxb.) or the sandalwood, Santalum album. The former is the eaglewood which grows in N India, Malaya and parts of China, where it is sometimes called the “aloes wood.” It is when the wood partially decays that the fragrance appears, and this is highly valued in the E. The sandalwood is close-grained and fragrant. The strong scent repels all insects. It was, therefore, used often for chests and cabinets. Balaam mentioned “like aloes” (Num 24:6). These could not have been eaglewood, because they do not grow in the Holy Land.