Skip to main content

Storax

STORAX

STORAX (Gr. στύραξ), a sap with medicinal properties. According to Pliny (Natural History 12:81) and Dioscorides (De materia medica 1:79) it was extracted from trees growing wild in Syria and the vicinity. Some identify it with the "balm" enumerated among the "choice fruits of the land" that Jacob sent to Egypt (Gen. 43:11), and among the wares brought "from Judah and the land of Israel" (Ezek. 27:17) to Tyre. Balm of Gilead is mentioned (Gen. 37:25; Jer. 8:22, 46:11), and is praised by Jeremiah as a remedy for wounds (46:11; 51:8). Linnaeus, who determined the scientific names of plants, thought that storax was extracted from the tree called in modern Hebrew livneh refu'i which he termed Styrax officinalis. However in the light of tests made in Israel it is very doubtful if a sap with medicinal or aromatic qualities can be extracted from this tree. The storax of the ancients was probably extracted from a different tree, seemingly from the Liquidambar orientalis which grows wild in northern Syria and may even have been grown in Israel; from it is extracted an aromatic sap with healing qualities called storax liquidis. This may possibly be the biblical balm, though other sources led to the conclusion that ẓori ("balm"), nataf, and ketaf are synonyms for *balsam.

The Styrax officinalis is widespread in the forests of Israel, and Hosea (4:13) mentions "alon, livneh, and elah" (*oaks, livneh, and *terebinths) among the shady trees used as sites for idol worship. The reference seems to be to the tree called in Arabic avḥar and also livnah or luvnah, a name connected with the silvery white color of the underside of its leaves (for the livneh of Gen. 30:37 see *Poplar). The flowers of this tree are sweet smelling and similar in shape to citrus blossom. The poisonous fruit is used for trapping fish. Arabs do not fell this tree because of the legend that "demons recline beneath it."

bibliography:

Loew, Flora, 3 (1924), 388–95; G.M. Crowfoot and L. Baldensperger, From Cedar to Hyssop (1932), 108; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), index; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 118; idem, in: Teva va-Areẓ, 10 (1968), 168–78.

[Jehuda Feliks]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Storax." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Storax." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/storax

"Storax." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/storax

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.