Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture: Sandalwood
A continuation of a multipart discussion about each of the 12 Oils of Ancient Scripture, today Gary Young speaks to the historical significance and traditional uses of sandalwood.
Sandalwood is another aromatic substance with a long, rich history in ancient times. Traditionally referred to as “aloes” or “aloewood,” it is mentioned in John 19:39: “And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight.” Psalms 45:8 informs us that the garments of the Messiah are fragrant with myrrh, cassia, and aloes, which is sandalwood.
The documenting of biblical plants and aromatics down through the ages has not been exact. The first entire book on plants was not published until 1566 AD, but many botanists believe that aloes derived from sandalwood, one of the oldest incenses known to man. Its 4,000-year history includes use as a carved wood as well as distillation for its sweet, woody, and fruity scented oil. The quantity of myrrh and aloes used in preparing Christ’s body for burial was indicative of deep respect; and in ancient Egypt, myrrh and sandalwood were used to embalm the great pharaohs of Egypt.
Historically, sandalwood was recognized for its improving of the lymphatic system, strengthening the heart, and calming the nerves. Ancient references also mention sandalwood for hemorrhaging, heart fatigue, and sciatica—although no modern clinical research has verified these benefits. Perhaps this is why sandalwood was a treasured aromatic substance in ancient times.
Modern science is now beginning to investigate the antiseptic and immune supporting properties of some of the constituents of these precious oils. Studies conducted at the University of Wisconsin show that limonene can inhibit aflatoxins and their production by toxic fungi and prevent DNA damage.
Next time, join me as I discuss another significant oil of ancient scripture: myrrh.
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