An aromatic gum‐resin of Commiphora myrrha, a tree native to southern Arabia and eastern Africa. Myrrh trees of Punt (Somalia) appear in fifteenth‐century BCE Egyptian royal tomb reliefs. According to the Bible, myrrh was traded from Canaan to Egypt (Gen. 37.25, 43.11). “Liquid myrrh” (myrrh‐scented oil) was a cosmetic (Esther 2.12, Song of Sol. 5.5), and in special formulation was used for cultic anointing (Exod. 30.23–25). In the New Testament, myrrh was one of the gifts of the Magi to the infant Jesus (Matt. 2.11). It was used as a painkiller (mixed with wine, Mark 15.23) and to anoint corpses before burial (with aloes, John 19.39).

Joseph A. Greene