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Spices are valuable aromatic and pungent plant substances that have been known to humans since the most ancient times. Their uses varied widely from food preparation, to perfumes and ointments, to burial of the dead. Much of the spices used by the Israelites came from such distant places as Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Mesopotamia and India (see Bible Places).

Spices Some of the most common spices used during the time of The Bible were aloes, balsam, cumin, cassia, cinnamon, coriander, dill, frankincense, galbanum, henna, mint, myrrh, onycha, rue, saffron, spikenard and stacte. Some examples of references to them during Bible History:

Joseph Sold To Spice Merchants

"So when Joseph [see Coat Of Many Colors] came to his brothers [see Children of Jacob], they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and cast him into a pit. The pit was empty, there was no water in it. Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites [see Ishmael] coming from Gilead, with their camels [see Ships Of The Desert] bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt." (Genesis 37:23-25 RSV)

Spices In The Tabernacle

"Moreover, The Lord [see Rock Of Ages] said to Moses, "Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh five hundred shekels [see Biblical Weights and Measures], and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, two hundred and fifty, and of aromatic cane two hundred and fifty, and of cassia five hundred, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hin; and you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; a holy anointing oil it shall be. And you shall anoint with it The Tent of Meeting [see The Tabernacle In The Wilderness] and The Ark of the Testimony [see The Ark Of The Covenant and The Ten Commandments and The Ten Commandments Now?], and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the laver and its base; you shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them will become holy. And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests [see Levites]." (Exodus 30:22-30 RSV)

Stored Like Treasure

"And Hezekiah [see Kings of Israel and Judah] welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses; there was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them." (2 Kings 20:13 RSV)

The Burial Of Jesus Christ

"After this Joseph Of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate [see Pontius Pilate] that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus also, who had at first come to Him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight. They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified [see Calvary] there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb [see The Garden Tomb] where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there." (John 19:38-42 RSV)

Fact Finder: Who discovered the empty tomb when they brought more spices to anoint the body of Jesus Christ?
Mark 16:1
See also Mary of Magdala

This Week's Bible Quiz

1. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "O"

2. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "I"

3. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "R"

4. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "G"

5. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "D"

6. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "A"

7. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "L"

8. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "M"

9. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "N"

10. Name a Bible book that starts with the letter "Z"

For the answers to this August 15 2000 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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