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GALBANUM (חֶלְבְּנָה, H2697; χαλβάνη). This is the Syrian gum of Exodus 30:34. It is a fourth of the sacred perfumes of the OT, called “pure and holy.” Galbanum is the brownish gum or resin of the plant, Ferula galbaniflua, a Mediterranean herbaceous perennial. It has thick stalks, yellow flowers, and fern-like green foliage. The gum exudes from the lower part of the stem.

Galbanum, when collected, is in both irregular and symmetrical drops. It may be yellowy-green or lightish brown, and has a musky, pungent smell. The particular value of Galbanum is the fact that it “holds” the scent of a mixed perfume, and allows of its “distribution” over a long period. It is also mentioned in the Apoc. (Ecclus 24:15).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(chelbenah; chalbdne):

A gum-resin which occurs in small, round, semitranslucent tears or in brownish yellow masses; has a pleasant aromatic odor and a bitter taste; and is today, at any rate, imported from Persia.

It is derived from certain umbelliferous plants, Ferula galbaniflua and F. rubricaulis. It is mentioned in Ex 30:34 as an ingredient of the holy incense, and also in Sirach 24:15: "a pleasant odor .... as galbanum."

See also

  • Plants