ONYCHA


ONYCHA (Heb. שחֵלֶת), aromatic substance. According to the ancient translations, the sheḥelet included among the ingredients of the incense (Ex. 30:34) is onycha. An early baraita dating from Temple times has צִפּׁרֶן ("fingernail") instead of sheḥelet (Ker. 6a). The reference to the shell of a mollusk, the Unguis odoratus (shaped like a fingernail and hence its name) which is found in the Indian Ocean, and, like several other mollusks found in the Red Sea, emits a pleasant smell when burned. Ben Sira 24:15 also includes onycha (in Greek ὄνυξ as one of the ingredients of the incense in the Temple, while in Ugaritic writings it is mentioned among several spices and foods.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 313; H.L. Ginsberg, Kitvei Ugarit (1936), 103; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), 223f., no. 209.

[Jehuda Feliks]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.