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spikenard

spikenard (spīk´närd), name for several plants. The biblical spikenard, or nard, was a costly aromatic ointment, preserved in alabaster boxes, whose chief ingredient is believed to have been derived from Nardostachys grandiflora (or N. jatamansi), a plant of the family Valerianaceae (valerian family). Such was the precious box of ointment that Mary Magdalen broke over Jesus' feet. The American spikenard, or Indian root, is Aralia racemosa, of the family Araliaceae (ginseng family). The fragrant rhizome of both of these plants is still sometimes used medicinally. The false Solomon's seal, of the family Liliaceae (lily family), is sometimes called wild spikenard. Spikenards are all classified in the division Magnoliophyta but differ in the classes, orders, and families to which they belong.

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spikenard

spikenard a costly perfumed ointment much valued in ancient times; in John 12:3, Mary ‘took…a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus’.

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spikenard

spikenard XIV. — medL. spīca nardī (see SPIKE2, NARD), or more immed. — OF. spicanard(e) or MLG. spīkenard, MDu. spīkenaerde (Du. spijknardus)
.

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Spikenard

SPIKENARD

SPIKENARD (Nard ; Heb. נֵרְד, nerd), spice mentioned three times in the Song of Songs. It grew in the imaginary spice garden to which the loved one is compared (Song 4:12–14) and she perfumed herself with it while waiting for her beloved (1:12). According to an ancient baraita, spikenard was one of the 11 spices from which the Temple incense was prepared (Ker. 6a; see *Incense and Perfumes and Pittum ha-Ketoret). It is called spikenard (Nardostachys) because of its appearance, which is similar to that of an ear of corn. It was extracted from the plants Nardostachys jatamansi and N. grandiflora that grow in the Himalayas. The name nard is derived from the Sanskrit nalada which means "spreading fragrance." This highly valued perfume was extracted both from the stalk (Lat. spicatum) which is the spikenard and from the leaves (Lat. foliatum). The Tosefta mentions polyaton oil among the luxuries whose use according to one view was forbidden after the destruction of the Temple as a sign of mourning (Tosef., Sot. 15:9).

bibliography:

Loew, Flora, 1 (1926), 309; 2 (1924), 15; 3 (1924), 483; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 244–5; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), index.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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