What Is The Meaning of Balm in Gilead In The Bible?

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What Is Balm in Gilead?

In the Bible, the Balm in Gilead serves a deeper metaphorical function. God reveals to Israel that although they had chosen a bandage as a temporary fix, they actually had much deeper spiritual wounds that required permanent healing. They required Jesus, the true physician.

Read Also: What Are The Names of God Found In The Bible?

Balm of Gilead In The Bible 

The Bible makes reference to the balm of Gilead three times. Genesis 37:25 mentions a caravan travelling to Egypt with balm; “As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.”

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In Jeremiah 8, Jeremiah weeps and inquires as to whether Gilead has a remedy after learning that Babylon will lay siege to Israel.

“Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” (Jeremiah 8:21-22).

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God instructs the Israelites to obtain a balm in Gilead once more in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 46:11), as they are beyond repair wounded. He does not mean to suggest that you apply a physical remedy to your issues. However, they would have recognized the imagery. Gilead undoubtedly contained a medicinal salve made from a blend of herbs and spices.


Is Jesus Christ The Balm of Gilead?

God explicitly states in Jeremiah 46 that the Israelites had turned to a temporary fix. They had contacted other countries, other gods, and other techniques to wipe out their sins.

Even after the Babylonian nation fell and Israel returned after 70 years, the consequences of that sin remained festered in their open wounds, as symbolized by Babylon. They still required a powerful remedy that could cure them.

Jesus enters the situation here. The greatest doctor, Christ ties our wounds and heals us from all doom. We may make an effort to rely on temporary fixes and balms, but ultimately, the True balm of Gilead is what we need to cure our souls of the illness of the world.

Read Also: What Do The Bible Say About Tattoos? Is It Okay To Have Them?

The Spiritual Meaning Of Balm of Gilead

The Hebrew Bible explains that the name Gilead is derived from the Hebrew words galêd, which themselves are derived from the terms gal (which means “heap, mound, hill”) and êd (which means “witness, testament”). Gilead means “stack [of stones] of testimony” if it is the case. Another hypothesis states that it refers to a rocky area.

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