Aquilaria Agallochum / Aloes

This is an interesting one. Blink and you will miss it.  Mentioned 3 times in the old testament and once in the new, but it is a tree of mammoth proportions, with interesting facts for dendrological and theological consideration so here goes: –

Aquilaria agallochum Aloes (also known as agarwood, aloeswood or gharuwood)

The tree a sub-tropical evergreen hardwood species only found in China, Siam and Northern India, attaining a height of 120ft, with a crown spread of 30ft, and tall straight trunk 3ft, thick.  Its roots will go deeper and wider than other known trees which is why us Europeans classify it as Lignum aguile Eagle wood.  Lignum vitae a close relative the hardest wood on the planet, commonly known as the “wood of life” and which only grows in the Caribbean. So why is it mentioned in the bible?

In my last piece I mentioned that Jacob due to famine had moved his 11 sons and their families to the land of plenty in Egypt.  They ended up being there for being over 400 years.  It’s hardly surprising therefore that in that time as the nation of Israel grew to their “new normal” they were introduced to alternative forms of Religion, Baalism, Aserah Poles, which included open acts of sexual pleasure and witchcraft as part of their ritual, as well as fragrant incense sticks being burned, or the costly gum extracted from the wood of the tree as a body perfume also as part of the rituals.  Egyptians also used this gum to embalm their dead as they had a sincere belief in a future belief of a reunion of souls with their bodies in an afterlife. Therefore, aloe, is not mentioned until Num. 24 v 26, but much thought of due to its aroma and the pleasure it brings.  David mentions it in Psalm 45:8 hinting that the fragrance of our Lord’s garments will smell like it so it must be a tremendous aroma. In Prov. 7 v 17 it states: – “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, ALOE and cinnamon”. Since most Eastern Religions have been using it for centuries the wood is now only traded illegally or by licence from organised managed forests because it more expensive than gold.  The Israelites learnt how to embalm from the Egyptians in that both Jacob and Joseph were embalmed and carried the whole way with the tribes back to their homeland for burial beside Rachel in Canaan.

In John 19 v 39 we read that Nicodemus came to embalm Christ’s body with Aloe, such was his richness to purchase it and love for Christ.

Was it not sad however that when the nation of Israel was rescued from their 400-year lockdown (slavery) by Egypt and given their liberty by God, that all they did was complain. Then when left alone by their spiritual leader in the desert they turned to idolatry and sexual sin.

Instead it would have be better whilst in captivity they’d have spread their roots as deep and as wide as  humanly possible so that their hearts, (trunks) would be as firm as possible without stain, so their (crowns) would rise as high as Aguila (Eagles) wings Is 40 v 31.