from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An aromatic gum resin similar to myrrh, produced by certain Asian and African shrubs or trees of the genus Commiphora.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Probably an aromatic gum like balsam that was exuded from a tree, probably one of several species in the genus Commiphora.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An unidentified substance mentioned in the Bible (Gen. ii. 12, and Num. xi. 7), variously taken to be a gum, a precious stone, or pearls, or perhaps a kind of amber found in Arabia.
  • n. A gum resin of reddish brown color, brought from India, Persia, and Africa.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A name given to two aromatic gum-resins, similar to myrrh, but weaker.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. aromatic gum resin; similar to myrrh


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Latin, from Greek bdellion, variant of bdolkhon, of Semitic origin; akin to Akkadian budulḫu.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin bdellium, from Ancient Greek βδέλλιον (bdellion), itself perhaps from Hebrew בְּדֹלַח (bdólakh).



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  • "The book of Genesis does not actually say much about the aromatic flora of paradise. The only spice mentioned is bdellium, a fragrant resin supposedly common to a land called Hevilath, which lies on the border of paradise (Genesis 2:12). Hevilath is said to be watered by the Phison and so is usually identified with India. From these few hints Christian writers endowed the Garden of Eden with a specifically aromatic as opposed to merely flowery atmosphere."

    Paul Freedman, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2008), 91-92

    November 28, 2017

  • "The use of myrrh, balsam, and bdellium* is documented from the early third millennium B.C. When Howard Carter examined the mummy of Tutankhamen, interred almost exactly a century earlier than Ramses, he found that the corpse had been treated with coriander and resins.

    " * Bdellium is a gum resin that oozes from one of several shrubs of the genus Commiphora. The dried product resembles impure myrrh."

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 147

    December 2, 2016

  • From "A Field of Snow on a Slope of the Rosenberg" by Guy Davenport.

    January 19, 2010

  • It may be a gum. The word comes from the King James Bible where the corresponding word in Hebrew is בדלח (ḇəd�?lah) - but this is only used twice in the bible and occurs no where else but there.

    The kicker is that bible scholars have offered arguments that it referrers to many things - but no one can say definitively what it is. Since the definition is lost but the word is still in use it is an ultimately unstranslatable word.

    December 8, 2008