Galbanum Essential Oil – An Ancient Ingredient in the Holy Incense (Temple Incense)

Resembling a giant fennel plant, Galbanum (Ferula galbaniflua, member of the carrot family) was used in the ancient world as incense. Today, galbanum essential oil goes beyond its use as ingredient. Native to the Middle East and grown in the Mesopotamian area and West Asia, Galbanum has been imported since biblical times. Today it is cultivated in Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

Galbanum, also called Mother resin, is discharged from the roots and lower trunk of this small wild plant. It is harvested by slitting its stem a few inches above the ground, allowing the milky substance to flow out and harden. Its balsamic tears are round, yellow to brownish-yellow, translucent, and not larger than a pea.

Galbanum essential oil has been valued for its complex green, woody, balsam-like fragrance. At one time it was used in pharmaceuticals, but now it is mostly used as a food flavoring and as a perfume fixative. The Egyptians imported Galbanum resin in vast amounts, as it was a most treasured incense ingredient. In addition, Egypt used it for embalming and cosmetics.

Galbanum essential oil was esteemed for its medicinal and spiritual properties as mentioned in Exodus 30:34. Egyptian papyri records use of Galbanum as well as ancient Roman historians record use for it as antispasmodic, diuretic, and pain relieving properties.

Its yellow viscous liquid essential oil possesses an intensely green, fresh leafy odor with a dry woody back-note of balsamic, bark-like character.


Galbanum Essential Oil’s Healing Properties

Plant origin: Iran

Medicinal properties: Anti-infectious, analgesic, antispasmodic (light), stimulant, supports the kidneys, and helps during menstruation.

Traditional uses: Galbanum was esteemed for its medicinal and spiritual properties as mentioned in Exodus 30:34. Egyptian papyri as well as ancient Roman historians record use of Galbanum for its antispasmodic, diuretic, and pain relieving properties.

Other uses: Galbanum may also help with abscesses, acne, asthma, bronchitis, chronic coughs, cramps, cuts, indigestion, inflammation, muscular aches and pains, nervous tension, poor circulation, rheumatism, scar tissue, stress, wrinkles, and wounds.

Application: Apply topically.

Note: Though Galbanum has a low frequency, when combined with other fragrances such as Frankincense or Sandalwood, the frequency rises dramatically.

Uses for Galbanum

  • Rub 2-3 drops of Galbanum oil on the soles of your feet to help ease cramping during menstruation.
  • Apply a few drops of Galbanum essential oil on location for sore muscles.  If the affected area is large, blend with a few drops of olive or mustard seed oil.
  • Inhale Galbanum oil from the bottle when you need a lift.
  • Trouble focusing? Try rubbing a drop or two of Galbanum oil near the temples and on the back of your neck near the brain stem. Cup hands together and breathe deeply.
  • To clear up acne, apply 1 drop of Galbanum oil on blemish.
  • Rub a drop of Galbanum oil on your stomach for indigestion.
  • Diffuse or rub a couple of drops of Galbanum into scalp to relieve a headache.
  • For kidney/bladder concerns, try rubbing a couple of drops of Galbanum oil over kidneys.

 Galbanum’s Spiritual Significance

The Jewish Talmud suggests that Galbanum, a bitter, earthy gum resin from an Asiatic plant was included in the Holy Incense because Every communal fast that does not include the sinners of Israel is not a fast. This was because the Temple incense included spices with beautiful fragrances, but was considered incomplete without a less-than-fragrant aromatic such as Galbanum. Described by some modern Bible commentators as having a pleasant smell, Philo praises Galbanum, comparing it to air and calling it sweet smelling and says its smoke drives away serpents.

This sharp, biting pungent resin could be equated with some of the unpleasant things we need to pray about. We are required to examine ourselves carefully as we meditate on the Holy Scriptures,

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Yeshua Ha Mashiach is in you, except ye be reprobates? (II Corinthians 13:5)

A genuine self-examination can be a very unpleasant experience. The Jewish Talmud say, Chelbenah alludes to complete sinners. Like a Tziporen-fingernail, they are smooth and unblemished on the inside, and only darkened on the outside.

In Hebrew, Galbanum is Chelbenah. The Hebraic root is Cheleb, which means the fat or the richest part and Chalab, which means milk. Of the animal sacrifices in Scripture, the fat was reserved for God and burned as a soothing aroma to Him (Genesis 4:4, Leviticus 3:14-16).

In the Greek, Galbanum is simply a borrowing of the Hebrew word, so there is no chance of error in translation from Hebrew to Greek. It is mentioned in the Egyptian papyri and only once in the Old Testament as an ingredient of the sacred incense and once in the Apocrypha (Sirach 24:15).

Since the fat was considered Yahweh’s portion, it was not for human consumption. Spiritually, fat is symbolic of praise and thanksgiving, followed by the confession of sins (Genesis 4:4, Leviticus 3:14-16). Psalm 50:23 says,

Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

What joy it brings Yahweh when we come before Him with praise and thanksgiving and confess our sins and realize we are like filthy rags, unworthy and undeserving. Yahweh considers this His Cheleb. Hebrews 13:15 tells us,

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Geneva Bible notes explains, Now that the physical sacrifices are taken away, he teaches us that the true sacrifice of confession remain, which consist partly in giving thanks, and partly in liberality with which sacrifices indeed God is now delighted.

Hebrew Word: Galbanum
2464 hn”B.l.x, chelbenah {khel-ben-aw’}
Meaning: 1) galbanum 1a) a kind of resin or gum, ingredient of the holy incense

Biblical References: Exodus 30:34