David Darom

Fragrant, too! Labdanum flowers (Cistus incanus) like these are called “myrrh” in some biblical passages, such as the cargo list of the Ishmaelite caravan to which Joseph was sold (Genesis 37:25). Actual myrrh, an aromatic gum resin, comes from a tree (especially Commiphora abyssinica) that is native to East Africa and South Arabia and that apparently did not grow in the Levant in biblical times (and which, we might add, is rather unphotogenic). Ancient Near Eastern cultures used these and many other aromatic substances in a variety of ways: in perfumes, in medicines, in the process of embalming or anointing the dead and as a burnt offering to please the gods or God.