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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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A shrub growing to a height of between eight and ten feet, and bearing cream-colored and very fragrant flowers. The botanical name of the plant is Lawsonia alba . In ancient times it grew very plentifully near En-gedi (Song of Song of Song of Song of Solomon 1:14 ). Tristram ("Natural History of the Bible," p. 339) reports having found it growing there. Various uses were made of camphire. Along with other fragrant woods (Song of Song of Song of Song of Solomon 4:13,,14 ) it was valued for its perfume. But it was utilized chiefly as a dye for the hair and the skin. In dyeing the skin, cloths were placed on the parts adjacent to and encircling those to be dyed. To these parts the powdered leaves, made into a paste by the addition of a little water, were applied, and allowed to remain overnight. The stain lasted for three or four weeks. Mohammed (Hughes, "Dict. of Islam," p. 175) dyed his beard and recommended the practise to his followers: it has therefore become an established religious custom with Mohammedans.

E. G. H. G. B. L.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Camphire'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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