Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

The role of trees in the Bible – Day 15

The balm of Gilead — an antidote for sin

Bible text(s)

22Is there no medicine in Gilead?

Are there no doctors there?

Why, then, have my people not been healed?

Jeremiah 8:22GNBOpen in Bible reader

To look at, the balm of Gilead isn’t a particularly impressive tree. It’s a small gum tree, with small leaves and small flowers that was cultivated on Mount Gilead. But during summer, the balm of Gilead tree secretes a resin-like juice with a sweet fragrance. From this juice, an oil is extracted which has healing properties that were known throughout the world. The extraction process was top-secret and the oil itself was taken to the stores of the rulers under heavy protection. When archaeologists excavated Gilead, they uncovered the tower where the oil was distilled. It was so well fortified that the archaeologist directing the dig remarked, “This place was built like Fort Knox.” The oil was extremely valuable and often used for barter. The caravans that carried Joseph to slavery in Egypt were loaded with balm (Genesis 37:25).

This wonderful balm of nature is a beautiful illustration of Jesus — the balm of Gilead, the great physician, the antidote for sin and Satan’s sting of death.

When Jesus died Satan believed he had the victory, but in reality, he had only stung the heel of the Son of God (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). God resurrected Jesus with great power (Romans 1:4). By conquering death’s sting, Jesus became the antidote or balm that heals our sin-sick souls and protects us. He is the tree of life whose leaves are “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2).

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
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