ISRAEL - 2000-Year-Old Balsam Tree Seal Found

Arno Froese

In the last decades before the destruction of the Second Temple, someone—a Jew, possibly a pilgrim—walked on the imposing road that connected the Shiloah Pool at the outskirts of Jerusalem with the Temple Mount.

For the important occasion, he wore his most precious clothes and ornaments, including a delicate ring bearing an engraved lilac amethyst stone. But in the crowd, the ring broke, the stone slipped on the floor and then into the underground drainage channel.

Some 2,000 years later, the tiny artifact was retrieved by volunteers sifting through soil dug during an archaeological excavation in the area.

Known as “balm of Gilead” (tzori in Hebrew), balsam tree (nataf) or “persimmon” later in the Mishnaic period, the plant, whose modern scientific name is commiphora gileadensis, was used to produce perfumes, incense and medicines.

“This is an important find because it may be the first time a seal has been discovered in the entire world with an engraving of the precious and famous plant...,” said archaeologist Eli Shukron., 21 October 2021

Arno's Commentary

The word baka is translated in Scripture as “mulberry trees” or “balsam trees.” The simple word in Hebrew apparently has no equivalent word in European languages. states: “Neither the balsam nor mulberry tree has been known to grow around Jerusalem, making the identification of the tree uncertain.”

Arab sources state, “The balsam, carried originally, says Arab tradition, from Yemen by the Queen of Sheba, as a gift to Solomon, and planted by him in the gardens of Jericho.”

Jeremiah, often described as the weeping prophet, concludes chapter 8: “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:22).

What this article clearly shows: Israel cannot be separated from the past, from the Bible, or from their land. The continual archaeological discoveries clearly testify of Israel’s presence from about 3,500 years ago.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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