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Aromatic Cane

AROMATIC CANE (קָנֶ֔ה, or קְנֵה־בֹ֖שֶׂם, meaning “spiced cane.” The word qaneh, CALAMUS, is found in Ezekiel 27:19 and Song of Solomon, and qāneh bōsem in Exodus 30:23).

The aromatic cane (Andropogon aromaticus) is not the sugar cane as people know it today, but a grass which gives out a strong smell when bruised, and which has a taste of ginger. Cows and goats like it, but when eaten it can taint their milk and even their flesh. When processed, it produces an oil called ginger grass. It is similar to the lemon grass (Andropogon schoenanthus) found in Pal., as well as Arabia and India.

There would have been no difficulty in importing the ginger grass to Pal., for there was a regular caravan traffic between the two countries.

In Jeremiah 6:20 the tr. “sweet cane” (qāneh) is prob. sweet-smelling cane. In fact Moffatt uses the words “perfume fetched from lands afar.” The word qāneh, however, in Isaiah 43:24 may mean Sugar Cane (q.v.).

It is thought that the Queen of Sheba brought King Solomon spiced cane, and the word “spices” in 1 Kings 10:10 definitely refers to Andropogon aromaticus. It must be remembered that she brought an abundance of these spices, presumably from Ethiopia, where the canes would have grown well.