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Plants of the Bible: Myrrh

Myrrh has been around for centuries , from being used as a healing remedy to sending an appealing scent into the air. During Biblical times, the fragrance of the plant was mentioned many times. In this article, you will learn where the plant was referenced, and some of the meanings behind its inclusion.

With shrubs and small trees found in the arid and semiarid regions of East Africa, Arabia, and the Indian subcontinent, myrrh is described as the dried resin of several different species of plant life. The plants vary in function. Some are noted for their pleasant fragrance, while others are used to treat a variety of medical conditions. The same word ‘mor’ is used in Herbrew text to refer to myrrh , regardless if it was used for medicinal or fragrance purposes. In the Bible, myrrh is noted for its fragrance, and is often paired with other herbs and spices, such as cassia and frankincense.

The Song of Solomon is a part of the Bible where you will find quite a few references to the plant. They include:

3:6: “Who is this sweeping in from the wilderness like a cloud of smoke? Who is it, fragrant with myrrh and frankincense and every kind of spice?” [New Living Translation]
4:6: “Until the cool of the day When the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh And to the hill of frankincense.” [New American Standard Bible]

4:14: “nard and saffron, fragrant calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes, and every other lovely spice.” [New Living Translation]

5:1: “I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk. Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” [English Standard Version]

5:5: “I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the lock.” [New International Version]. In this reference, myrrh hints to an association to the erotic side of love.  

5:13: “His cheeks are like gardens of spices giving off fragrance. His lips are like lilies, perfumed with myrrh.” [New Living Translation]

Other places in the Bible where myrrh is mentioned includes:

In Proverbs 7, you will find “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.” [English Standard Version]. It is here that the harlot says that her bed has been sprinkled with the scents of the above-mentioned plants.

Studies within the past 15 years have shown that a certain species of myrrh possesses the same qualities as some opiates. Interestingly, it could explain why in Mark 15:23, Jesus (while on the cross) is offered vinegar or wine mixed with myrrh but refuses the drug. According to the New International Version, “Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.”