A tree included by Solomon in his request to Hiram of Tyre for timbers for the construction of the temple and from which stairs and supports were constructed as well as harps and stringed instruments.—2 Chron. 2:8, 9; 9:10, 11; 1 Ki. 10:11, 12.
The almug tree of this account cannot be identified with certainty. It is traditionally suggested to be the red sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus) now found in India and Ceylon, although some favor the white sandalwood (Santalum album), perhaps due to Josephus’ statement that it is like pinewood, “but . . . whiter, and more shining.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VIII, chap. VII, par. 1) The red sandalwood grows to heights of about twenty-five or thirty feet (7.6 or 9.1 meters) and has a hard, fine-grained, reddish-brown wood that takes a high polish. It is suggested as suitable for musical instruments of the type mentioned in the Bible account. The wood has a sweet scent and is highly resistant to insects. The red sandalwood does not grow in Lebanon at the present time. However, the record is not definite as to whether the “almug” trees were native to Lebanon or not. At any rate, Hiram later saw fit to bring them from Ophir, and, here again, the timbers may have been imports even in Ophir, as it was in position to act as a trading center dealing with India, Egypt and other places in Africa. (1 Ki. 10:22) The rarity and preciousness of the wood delivered by Hiram is indicated by the statement that “timbers of almug trees like this have not come in nor have they been seen down to this day.”—1 Ki. 10:12.
In view of the uncertainty involved it appears best to simply transliterate the Hebrew name as “almug” until such time as more certain identification becomes possible.