What is Myrrh in the Bible?


Myrrh, a fragrant resin, has held a significant place in the Bible, appearing in various narratives that span from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Derived from the thorny tree species Commiphora myrrha, myrrh has had diverse uses throughout history, including as an incense, a perfume, and an embalming ingredient. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of myrrh in the Bible, its various appearances and meanings in biblical events, and how it has continued to hold a special place in Christian tradition.

Myrrh’s presence in the Bible is closely intertwined with the divine, as it is mentioned in several key moments in the biblical narrative. For example, it is one of the gifts that the wise men bring to the baby Jesus, and it is also used as an ingredient to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. Its appearance in these moments not only emphasizes its importance in the biblical story, but also serves as a symbol of the sacred and divine.

As we delve deeper into the stories and significance of myrrh in the Bible, it is important to bear in mind that the understanding of these narratives is often shaped by personal beliefs and interpretations. Therefore, this blog post will provide a comprehensive examination of myrrh’s presence in the Bible, drawing from the New King James Version (NKJV) to explore its various uses and meanings in the Christian faith.

Myrrh in the Bible

Myrrh in the Old Testament

Myrrh as a Perfume and Anointing Oil

Myrrh is first mentioned in the Bible in the book of Genesis, when Joseph is sold by his brothers to a caravan of Ishmaelites carrying spices, including myrrh, to Egypt (Genesis 37:25). Later, in Exodus 30:22-25, the Lord commands Moses to make a special anointing oil using myrrh, along with other fragrant spices:

“Moreover the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Also take for yourself quality spices—five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels), two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane, five hundred shekels of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil.'”

This anointing oil was used to consecrate the priests and the sacred objects in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:26-29). Myrrh’s inclusion in the holy anointing oil signifies its importance and sacredness in biblical tradition.

Myrrh in the Song of Solomon

The Song of Solomon, a poetic and allegorical book in the Old Testament, frequently mentions myrrh as a symbol of love and affection. For instance, in Song of Solomon 1:13, the beloved says, “A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that lies all night between my breasts.” Here, myrrh represents the preciousness and desirability of the lover.

In Song of Solomon 3:6 and 4:6, myrrh is again used to describe the beauty and fragrance of the beloved, showcasing its role as a symbol of love and devotion:

“Who is this coming out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the merchant’s fragrant powders?” (Song of Solomon 3:6)

“Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.” (Song of Solomon 4:6)

Myrrh in the New Testament

Myrrh as a Gift for Baby Jesus

One of the most well-known mentions of myrrh in the Bible is in the New Testament when the Magi, or wise men, visit the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. They bring with them gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11):

“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

The inclusion of myrrh as a gift for Jesus signifies its importance and value. Additionally, it has been suggested that the three gifts symbolize different aspects of Jesus’ life: gold represents His kingship, frankincense symbolizes His divinity, and myrrh foreshadows His suffering and death, as it was used in embalming.

Myrrh Offered to Jesus on the Cross

Myrrh makes another appearance in the New Testament during Jesus’ crucifixion. In Mark 15:23, Jesus is offered wine mingled with myrrh to drink as He hangs on the cross:

“Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.”

This mixture was likely intended to act as a pain-reliever or sedative. However, Jesus refuses to drink it, choosing to endure the full extent of His suffering.

Myrrh Used in Jesus’ Burial

After Jesus’ death, myrrh is used as part of the preparation of His body for burial. In John 19:39-40, we read:

“And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.”

The use of myrrh in Jesus’ burial further emphasizes its significance as a symbol of suffering, death, and ultimately, resurrection.


Throughout the Bible, myrrh holds a special place as a symbol of the sacred, the divine, love, and even suffering. Its various appearances in the biblical narrative serve to highlight key moments in the history of the Christian faith, from the anointing of priests and sacred objects in the Old Testament to the birth, death, and burial of Jesus in the New Testament.

The continued use of myrrh in modern Christian practices, such as the anointing of the sick and the consecration of altars, serves as a testament to its enduring significance in the Christian tradition. As we reflect on the role of myrrh in the Bible, we are reminded of its rich symbolism and the profound impact that it has had on the development of our faith.

In conclusion, myrrh’s presence in the Bible carries a deep and lasting significance that transcends time and continues to inspire and instruct believers today. By examining its various uses and meanings, we can gain a better understanding of its importance in the biblical narrative and, in turn, deepen our appreciation for the rich symbolism and history that it represents.

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