The Myrrh Tree

Trees of the Bible:

“The Myrrh-tree, that is to say, the tree which produced the myrrh so often mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, is not very well known. Some describe it as a small tree that grows about eight feet high, with a thorny trunk, the wood of which is very hard. It is probable that both myrrh and frankincense are the product of trees very nearly related to the balsam-tree which yields the balm of Gilead.

The substance known to us as myrrh, and used in medicine, is a gum brought from Western Asia, of a reddish-yellow color and very bitter taste. The ancients made use of myrrh as a perfume, and in embalming the dead, as a means of preserving the body from decay. They also mingled it with wine to form a cordial which was very highly esteemed.

The Jews of old, like the inhabitants of the East at the present day, were very fond of strong perfumes. They sometimes carried myrrh in their bosoms, perfumed their garments, and rubbed their hands and lips with it. This custom is alluded to in Psalm 45 :8, where the flourishing state of Christ’s kingdom is described under the similitude of a glorious queen, “All thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia.” And in the Song of Solomon, “My hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh:” and again, alluding to Christ, “His lips are like lilies, dropping sweetsmelling myrrh.” Sol. Song, 5 : 5,  13.

Myrrh was an article of commerce at a very early period. You will find it mentioned among the commodities that the Ishmaelites were carrying to Egypt when Joseph was sold to them by his envious and cruel brethren. Gen. 37 : 25. It appears from Ex. 30 : 23, that it entered into the composition of the holy anointing oil that was used in the service of the Tabernacle. But it would make this account too long were I to point out all the places in which it is spoken of in the Bible. Yet I wish you to observe that it is mentioned in the New Testament, in the narrative both of the birth and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Look at Mat. 2 :11, and you will see that the wise men who came from the East inquiring for the infant Savior, when they had found Him, worshipped Him, and opening their treasures, “presented unto Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

This shows that these wise and good men were willing to give up to the service of their Lord the most costly and precious things they possessed. Such is the temper of all true Christians. “They are ever ready to say, “All for Christ: all for Christ.”

We read also, Mark, 15 :23, that when our Savior hung upon the cross they offered Him for drink “wine mingled with myrrh.” Strong drink of some kind was usually given to persons about to suffer death, in order to produce insensibility, and by that means lessen the sense of pain.

“But Christ refused to drink it, because He came to suffer and make an atonement for our sins, and would not set aside one pang that was necessary to make the great work of redemption complete.”

I have told you that the ancients used myrrh for embalming the dead. It served that purpose at this time. After the crucifixion, Nicodemus, who at first visited Jesus by night, but had now become open and fearless in his attachment, “brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight,” with” which he and other friends of the Savior embalmed His body and laid it in the sepulchre.

Why did the Savior endure such humiliation and distress? What was the object of his sufferings and death? Surely you know “that for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be made rich.” Are you truly grateful for it? Have you given Him your heart?”–Mrs. Harriet N. Cook; 1846.

Significant Trees of the BibleTrees—More Than Shade