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Shemen Afarsimon is an oil that was used to add fragrance to sacrifices and anoint priests, prophets and kings in biblical times.

In April 1988, archeologists discovered a small jug of oil in the Qumran region that some believe is the oil used in the Temple. The find was announced by the New York Times on February 15, 1989, and a feature article was published in National Geographic Magazine in October of that year. [1]

After testing by the Pharmaceutical Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the substance inside the juglet was said be the shemen afarsimon mentioned in Psalm 133. According to archaeologist Vendyl Jones, it is the first artifact discovered from the First Temple Period, and one of the treasures listed in the Copper Scroll.

However, this identification remains controversial. No one today knows exactly what plant was used to produce the biblical oil. According to one theory, it is the plant Commiphora opobalsamum - a small shrub, 10 to 12 feet high, with wandlike, spreading branches. The oil extracted from the seeds or branches of this plant has been used as a medicine, but more commonly as incense or perfumed oil.

The biblical afarsimon was considered very valuable, and worth its weight in gold.[2] The ancient Jewish community of Ein Gedi was known for its cultivation of the afarsimon.

In modern Hebrew, the word afarsimon is translated as persimmon.

See also

  • Balsam of Mecca
  • Holy anointing oil