According to the Book of First Kings (1 Kings 10:12), and the Second Book of Chronicles (II Chronicles 2:8; 9:10-11), it was used, together with cedar and pine, in the construction of Solomon's Temple including the crafting of musical instruments for use in the Temple. Likely the wood was brought by the ships of Tarshish, sent from the Red Sea port of Ezion-Giber, from the distant country of Ophir, and was very valuable.
The botanical identity of algum is not known for certain, though some references suggest it may be juniper (Juniperus). Several species of juniper occur in the Middle East region, including Juniperus excelsa (Greek juniper), Juniperus foetidissima (stinking juniper), Juniperus phoenicea (Phoenician juniper), and Juniperus drupacea (Syrian juniper). It is likely that the woods of these species, which are all very similar in woodworking properties, would have not been distinguished from each other in the wood trade. The difficulty in identifying this wood is due in part to uncertainty over the location of the Biblical city of Ophir. If Ophir is located in India, as some think, the wood likely would be red sandalwood or Pterocarpus santalinus.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Algum.|
- Elwell, Walter A.; Beitzel, Barry J. (1988). "Plants of the Bible". Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible 2. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. p. 1702.