ladanum, gum gathered from the rock rose.
Botanical name and images:
Cistus Creticus Cistus Incanus
Genesis 37:25, "As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from
Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm, and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to " (NIV). Egypt
Genesis 43:11, Jeremiah 8:22, 46:11, 51:8.
The rock rose is a thorny shrub up to
70 cm high with showy white to pinkish flowers that resemble wild roses. The leaves are quite different, being simple and elliptical rather than compound. The fruit is a capsule that splits into several segments containing minute seeds.
The rockrose is the source of ladanum, a brown aromatic gum used in medicines and perfumes. Ladanum is collected by boiling shoots or raking the leaves by raking with a tool which has leather thongs in the place of teeth. The leaves are used in herbal teas, and rock roses are cultivated for their flowers.
Scripturally, balms and other ointments are metaphors for the healing power of divine mercy and comfort.
Rocky brush country of
Gilead and elsewhere in the Mediterranean region.