Myrrh — Heb. mor. (1.) First mentioned as a principal ingredient in the holy anointing oil (Ex. 30:23). It formed part of the gifts brought by the wise men from the east, who came to worship the infant Jesus (Matt. 2:11). It was used in embalming (John 19:39), also as a perfume (Esther 2:12; Ps. 45:8; Prov. 7:17). It was a custom of the Jews to give those who were condemned to death by crucifixion “wine mingled with myrrh” to produce insensibility. This drugged wine was probably partaken of by the two malefactors, but when the Roman soldiers pressed it upon Jesus “he received it not” (Mark 15:23). (See GALL.)
This was the gum or viscid white liquid which flows from a tree resembling the acacia, found in Africa and Arabia, the Balsamodendron myrrha of botanists. The “bundle of myrrh” in Cant. 1:13 is rather a “bag” of myrrh or a scent-bag.
(2.) Another word lot is also translated “myrrh” (Gen. 37:25; 43:11; R.V., marg., “or ladanum”). What was meant by this word is uncertain. It has been thought to be the chestnut, mastich, stacte, balsam, turpentine, pistachio nut, or the lotus. It is probably correctly rendered by the Latin word ladanum, the Arabic ladan, an aromatic juice of a shrub called the Cistus or rock rose, which has the same qualities, though in a slight degree, of opium, whence a decoction of opium is called laudanum. This plant was indigenous to Syria and Arabia.