Have you ever heard of the balm of Gilead? Perhaps you’ve heard about it from a sermon, sang about it in hymn, or even more unlikely, read it in the Bible.
But what does “balm of Gilead” mean? Does it actually exist? Is it a real thing, or simply a metaphor for something else?
That’s what we’re going to explore in this post. We’ll discover the true meaning behind the balm of Gilead, and why it’s important to know.
Balm of Gilead in the Bible
The best place to discover the true meaning behind the balm of Gilead is the Bible. The first thing to uncover is if a place called “Gilead” truly ever existed?
Excitingly, yes, it did! Gilead was a region east of the Jordan River where the tribes of Gad and Manasseh lived.
However, the next question is, did a special balm from that land ever exist?
Well, let’s take a look at what the Bible says on this. There are exactly three instances of where the balm of Gilead is mentioned in Scripture.
1. Genesis 37:25
“Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.”
– Genesis 37:25 (NLT)
2. Jeremiah 8:21-22
“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 (NIV)
3. Jeremiah 46:11
“Go up to Gilead, and take balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt! In vain you have used many medicines; there is no healing for you.”
– Jeremiah 46:11 (ESV)
The verses I want to pay attention to are from Jeremiah 8:21-22. Here Jeremiah has just heard that Babylon is going to attack Israel as an act of God’s punishment for Israel’s sinful ways. In response to this news Jeremiah cries out in anguish, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?
By referencing the balm of Gilead what Jeremiah is doing is crying out to God and asking, “God, is there any way you can heal our nation?”
You see, in the ancient world balms were a common way to heal the sick and wounded. However, the region of Gilead in particular was known for making a special balm that had famously strong healing properties.
So, by Jeremiah referencing the balm of Gilead in the above Scripture, what he is really saying is surely the balm of Gilead, which is known for having the best healing properties, can provide some sort of cure.
However, there was no balm in Gilead that could heal the wounds of the nation, just like there was no physician who could fix the problem Israel was about to face.
However, there is hope because we have to keep in mind that Jeremiah is also a prophet, so his words carry much deeper meaning. By referencing the balm of Gilead as a way to heal the nation, Jeremiah is foretelling the coming of a person who is like a balm of Gilead and can truly heal the wounds of the people.
Jesus is a Balm in Gilead
That’s right, you guessed it. Jesus is a balm in Gilead.
In the Book of Jeremiah, Babylon represented the consequences of Israel’s sin which is why Jeremiah cried out to God asking if there was any way Israel could be spared their terrible punishment and be healed from their sin.
However, at the time of Jeremiah’s writing, there was no way of healing Israel sin. There was no “balm of Gilead”. But now there is!
Because of what Jesus did on the cross we now have a great physician who can heal us from all our sickness and wounds. Jesus is the only One who can take away all our sin and restore everything that has been broken.
Whether it be relational healing, spiritual healing, or physical healing, Jesus is always the answer.
Jesus Christ is our balm in Gilead, the only One who could ever provide true and lasting healing. When we are in trouble we should always look to Jesus because He is the only balm that can truly heal us from our sin.
Balm of Gilead Oil
Even though the balm of Gilead was a representation of Jesus Christ, you might still be wondering, “But, does the balm of Gilead still exist today?”
The answer to your question is yes!
The balm of Gilead still exists, but it’s an expensive oil and extremely rare to find. Many companies that do sell it also only use just a few drops
Very few companies today sell the balm of Gilead but the one company that I am aware of selling it is the Israel-based oil company, Holy Shaya.
Holy Shaya actually specializes in finding these rare oils mentioned throughout the Bible and makes them accessible for consumers.
They use pure ingredients without any artificial substances, and ensure the highest quality of balm of Gilead, as well as other biblical oils like frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, and lavender.
Most companies that do sell the balm of Gilead (as well as other rare oils) just use a few drops of the actual oil and mix it with a carrier oil, which dilutes the overall quality. However Holy Shaya uses a very high percentage of oil in the blend, offering the best quality.
If you’re interested in purchasing the balm of Gilead, click here for more information!
Balm of Gilead Uses
In ancient days people would use the balm of Gilead most famously as a medicinal ointment, but it was also used as a perfume, and even as an anointing oil when preparing bodies for burial.
We see this practice even for Jesus’ burial in Mark 16:1, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.” (NIV)
However today the balm of Gilead is used mostly as a perfume as suggested in Holy Shaya’s Original Oil Pack. But it can also be used as an anointing oil, or diffused throughout your home in an oil diffuser.
If you are interested in purchasing this rare oil, click here for more information!