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What is Myrrh?

Myrrh - A Spice Fit for a King

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Myrrh

In preparation for burial, Jesus' body was packed in myrrh, then wrapped in linen cloths.

Photo: Alison Miksch/FoodPix/Getty Images

Definition: Myrrh is an expensive spice, used for making perfume, incense, medicine, and for anointing the dead.

Myrrh appears frequently in the Old Testament, primarily as a sensuous perfume in the Song of Solomon.

The Bible records myrrh showing up three times in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Matthew states that the Three Kings visited the child Jesus, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Mark notes that when Jesus was dying on the cross, someone offered him wine mixed with myrrh to stop the pain, but he did not take it. Finally, John says Nicodemus brought a mixture of 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes to anoint Jesus' body when it was laid in the tomb.

Myrrh comes from a small bushy tree, cultivated in ancient times in the Arabian peninsula. The grower made a small cut in the bark, where the resin would leak out. It was then collected and stored for about three months until it hardened into fragrant globules. Myrrh was used raw or crushed and mixed with oil to make a perfume. It was also used medicinally to reduce swelling and stop pain. Today myrrh is used in Chinese medicine for a variety of ailments.

Pronunciation: mur

Example: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus packed Jesus' body in myrrh, then wrapped it in linen cloths.

(Sources: itmonline.org and The Bible Almanac, edited by J.I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, and William White Jr.)

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