Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
ALOES ( ’ahÃ¢lim , Proverbs 7:17 , Numbers 24:6 [‘lign aloes’]; ’ahÃ¢loth , Psalms 45:8 , Song of Solomon 4:14; also alÇ’Ã§ , John 19:39 ). This is the modern eagle-wood (a name derived from the Skr. aguru ); it has nothing to do with the familiar bitter aloes of medicine, or with the American aloe, now much cultivated in gardens in Palestine, but a recent importation. This eagle-wood is obtained from plants of the order AquilariaceÃ¦, but the fragrant parts are those which are diseased; the odoriferous qualities are due to the infiltration with resin, and the best kinds sink when placed in water. The development of this change in the wood is hastened by burying it in the ground. A trade in this wood has gone on from early times; it comes from India, the Malay Peninsula, etc., and has long been a favourite with the Arabs, who call it el ‘ud .
The use of the word (translated ‘lign aloes,’ Numbers 24:6 ) by Balaam creates a difficulty. Either he must have referred to the tree from mere hearsay, or some other plant of the same name may at that time have grown in the Jordan valley, or, as seems most probable, the Heb. word has been wrongly transcribed. Both ‘palms’ and ‘terebinths’ have been suggested as suitable alternatives.
E. W. G. Masterman.
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Hastings, James. Entry for 'Aloes'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/a/aloes.html. 1909.