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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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occurs in three passages of the Auth. Vers. for the Hebrews קָנֶה, kanek' (Sept. κάλαμος, elsewhere "reed"): Exodus 30:23, among the ingredients of the holy anointing oil; Song of Solomon 4:14, in an enumeration of sweet scents; and Ezekiel 27:19, among the articles brought to the markets of Tyre. The term designates the marsh and river reed generally, (See REED); but in the places just referred to it appears to signify the sweet flag (κάλαμος ἀρωματικός, Dioscor. 1:17), an Oriental plant (calamus odoratus, Plin. 12:12, 48); of which the Linnsean name is Acorus calamus. No doubt the same plant is intended in Isaiah 43:24;Jeremiah 6:20, where the Auth. Vers. has sweet cane. In the latter text the Hebrews is קָנֶה הִטּוֹב, kaneh' hat-tob' (i.e. good cane), and in Exodus 30:23, קָנֵה בשֶם, kaneh' bo'sem (i.e. odoriferous cane). "Ascented cane is said to have been found in a valley of Mount Lebanon (Polyb. 5:46; Strab. 16:4). The plant has a reed-like stem, which is exceedingly fragrant, like the leaves, especially when bruised. It is of a tawny color, much jointed, breaking into splinters, and having the hollow stem filled with pith like a spider's web" (Kalisch on Exodus 30:23.) The calamus of Scripture is probably the reed by that name sometimes found in Europe, but usually in Asia (Thephrast. Plantt. 9:7; Pliny, 12:12), and especially in India and Arablia (Diod. Sic. 2:49; Pliny, 12:48). It grows in moist places in Egypt and Judaea, and in several parts of Syria, bearing from the root a knotted stalk, containing in its cavity a soft white pith. It has an agreeable aromatic smell, and when cut, dried, and powdered, it forms an ingredient in the richest perfumes (Pliny, 15:7; see Celsii Hierob.2:326 sq.). The plant from which the aromaticus" of modern shops is obtained appears to be a different species (Penny Cyclopcedia, s.v. Acorus). (See CANE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Calamus'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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