Any of a variety of fragrant plant products, including aloe, balsam, calamus, cassia, cinnamon, frankincense, galbanum, labdanum, myrrh, and stacte. Although condiments such as cumin, mint, dill, and salt are mentioned in the Bible, the original-language words translated “spice” and “spices” are not applied to food seasonings.
Spices were employed in making the holy anointing oil and the incense designated exclusively for sanctuary use. (Ex 30:23-25, 34-37) They were also used in preparing the dead for burial, myrrh and aloes being specifically mentioned in Jesus’ case. (Joh 19:39, 40; see also Mr 16:1; Lu 23:56; 24:1.) In connection with the burial of King Asa of Judah, there was an extraordinarily great funeral burning—not a cremation, but a burning of spices. (2Ch 16:14) Anciently spices were added to wines to increase their “headiness.”—Ca 8:2.
The garden spice referred to in The Song of Solomon (5:1, 13; 6:2) may denote fragrant herbs generally or, as suggested by some scholars, balsam (Commiphora opobalsamum). The “Indian spice” of Revelation 18:13 is literally “amomum,” an aromatic shrub of the ginger family.