Notes Costus

All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia.

Psalms 45:8 (KJV)

Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.

Psalms 45:8 (RSV)

All your garments are myrrh and aloeswood [and] cassia.

Psalms 45:8 (NWT)

Unlike Zohary, I followed Moldenke and Moldenke in my first Bible book (Duke, 1983) and concluded that the cassia of Psalms 45 was the Indian kuth (standardized common name "costus," widely used in perfumes and incenses). Other scholars, such as Zohary, would think that cassia in the Bible was more likely to be a species of Cinnamomum (which see; and I agree). Still I include the kuth here. Others might side with the Moldenkes. Although noted as an aphrodisiac, costus' chief use is as a perfume. In China and India it serves as incense in temples. The essential oil is valued in perfumery and cosmetics. The essential oil has strong antiseptic and disinfectant properties, especially against Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. The root owes its insecticidal property to its essential oil content. Roots are employed in Kashmir as insecticide to protect shawls and woolen fabrics. A process for treating costus roots or inulin obtained from them for the production of fructose has been reported. Dried stems of the plant are used as fodder in winter (BIB).

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