frankincense Summary and Overview
frankincense in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Heb. lebonah; Gr. libanos, i.e., "white"), an odorous resin imported from Arabia (Isa. 60:6; Jer. 6:20), yet also growing in Israel (Cant. 4:14). It was one of the ingredients in the perfume of the sanctuary (Ex. 30:34), and was used as an accompaniment of the meat-offering (Lev. 2:1, 16; 6:15; 24:7). When burnt it emitted a fragrant odour, and hence the incense became a symbol of the Divine name (Mal. 1:11; Cant. 1:3) and an emblem of prayer (Ps. 141:2; Luke 1:10; Rev. 5:8; 8:3). This frankincense, or olibanum, used by the Jews in the temple services is not to be confounded with the frankincense of modern commerce, which is an exudation of the Norway spruce fir, the Pinus abies. It was probably a resin from the Indian tree known to botanists by the name of Boswellia serrata or thurifera, which grows to the height of forty feet.
frankincense in Smith's Bible Dictionary
a vegetable resin, brittle, glittering, and of a bitter taste, used for the purpose of sacrificial fumigation. #Ex 30:34-36| It was called frank because of the freeness with which, when burned, it gives forth its odor. It burns for a long time, with a steady flame. It is obtained by successive incisions in the bark of a tree called Arbor thuris. The first incision yields the purest and whitest resin, while the product of the after incisions is spotted with yellow, and loses its whiteness altogether as it becomes old. The Hebrews imported their frankincense from Arabia, #Isa 60:6; Jer 6:20| and more particularly from Saba; but it is remarkable that at present the Arabian libanum or olibanum is a very inferior kind, and that the finest frankincense imported into Turkey comes through Arabia from the islands of the Indian Archipelago. There can be little doubt that the tree which produces the Indian frankincense is the Boswellia serrata of Roxburgh, or Boswellia thurifera of Colebrooke, and bears some resemblance when young to the mountain ash. It grows to be forty feet high.
frankincense in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
An ingredient used in making the perfume for the most holy place in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:34). It is a resinous substance derived from certain trees in the balsam family. Frankincense was one of the gifts presented to the child Jesus by the Magi (Matthew 2:11).