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37:25 The [brothers] sat down and ate a meal. When they looked up, they saw an Arab caravan coming from Gilead. The camels were carrying gum, balsam, and resin, transporting them to Egypt.
Vayeshvu le'echol-lechem vayis'u eyneyhem vayir'u vehineh orchat Yishme'elim ba'ah miGil'ad ugemaleyhem nos'im nechot utsri valot holchim lehorid Mitsraymah.


  (Targum; Saadia). Literally, Ishmaelites. See 1 Chronicles 2:17, 27:30. Also see note on Genesis 37:28.

  Gilead was to the northeast of the Holy Land, on the trade route from Mesopotamia to Egypt, as we see in the case of Jacob above (Genesis 31:21). This route passed through Dothan. It was famous for its spices, see other notes on Genesis 37:25, 'gum', 'balsam', 'resin'.

  Nekhoth in Hebrew. See Genesis 43:11. The Targum renders it as sh'af, a kind of wax or gum (Rashi; cf. Bereshith Rabbah 91). On the basis of Semitic cognates, it is usually identified with tragacanth, the aromatic sap of a species of Astragalus, a short prickly shrub of the family Papilionaceae (cf. Septuagint). Others say that it comes from the member of the carob family (Lekach Tov; Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim). Rashi says that nekhoth is a generic word for spices.

  Tzeri or Tzori in Hebrew. Balsam is a gum extracted from the sap of the tree Commiphora apobasamum, and it is used for incense and perfume. Gilead was a famed source of balsam (Jeremiah 8:22, 46:11).

  Lot in Hebrew. See Genesis 43:11. On the basis of Semitic cognates, it is usually identified as labdanum or laudanum, a soft, dark resin derived from various bushes known as rockroses, of the genus cistus. It is used for making perfume. The Midrash defines it as mastic (Bereshith Rabbah 91), the resin of the mastic tree, Pistacia lenticus, a member of the pistachio family (cf. Septuagint). The Targum renders it letum, a species mentioned in the Mishnah (Shevi'ith 7:6), and identified as a chestnut (Rambam ad loc.; Ibn Janach) or pine extract (Ibn Janach; cf. Radak, Sherashim). Rashi identifies it as aristolocia, the birthwort. (See Otzar Maasoth, p. 95).

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