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.
This substance is mentioned in ( Exodus 30:23 ) as one of the ingredients of the "oil of holy ointment:" in ( Esther 2:12 ) as one of the substances used in the purification of women; in ( Psalms 45:8 ; Proverbs 7:17 ) and in several passages in Canticles, as a perfume. The Greek occurs in ( Matthew 2:11 ) among the gifts brought by the wise men to the infant Jesus and in ( Mark 15:23 ) it is said that "wine mingled with myrrh" was offered to but refused by, our Lord on the cross. Myrrh was also used for embalming. See John 19;39 and Herod. ii. 86. The Balsamodendron myrrha , which produces the myrrh of commerce, has a wood and bark which emit a strong odor; the gum which exudes from the bark is at first oily, but becomes hard by exposure to the air. (This myrrh is in small yellowish or white globules or tears. The tree is small, with a stunted trunk, covered with light-gray bark, It is found in Arabia Felix. The myrrh of ( Genesis 37:25 ) was probably ladalzum , a highly-fragrant resin and volatile oil used as a cosmetic, and stimulative as a medicine. It is yielded by the cistus , known in Europe as the rock rose, a shrub with rose-colored flowers, growing in Palestine and along the shores of the Mediterranean. --ED.) For wine mingled with myrrh see GALL.
(1) (mor or mowr; Arabic murr]):
This substance is mentioned as valuable for its perfume (Psalms 45:8; Proverbs 7:17; Song of Solomon 3:6; 4:14), and as one of the constituents of the holy incense (Exodus 30:23; see also Song of Solomon 4:6; 5:1,5,13). Mor is generally identified with the "myrrh" of commerce, the dried gum of a species of balsam (Balsamodendron myrrha). This is a stunted tree growing in Arabia, having a light-gray bark; the gum resin exudes in small tear-like drops which dry to a rich brown or reddish-yellow, brittle substance, with a faint though agreeable smell and a warm, bitter taste. It is still used as medicine (Mark 15:23). On account, however, of the references to "flowing myrrh" (Exodus 30:23) and "liquid myrrh" (Song of Solomon 5:5,13), Schweinfurth maintains that mor was not a dried gum but the liquid balsam of Balsamodendron opobalsamum.
Whichever view is correct, it is probable that the smurna, of the New Testament was the same. In Matthew 2:11 it is brought by the "Wise men" of the East as an offering to the infant Saviour; in Mark 15:23 it is offered mingled with wine as an anesthetic to the suffering Redeemer, and in John 19:39 a "mixture of myrrh and aloes" is brought by Nicodemus to embalm the sacred body.
(2) (loT, stakte; translated "myrrh" in Genesis 37:25, margin "ladanum"; 43:11):
The fragrant resin obtained from some species of cistus and called in Arabic ladham, in Latin ladanum. The cistus or "rock rose" is exceedingly common all over the mountains of Palestine (see BOTANY), the usual varieties being the C. villosus with pink petals, and the C. salviaefolius with white petals. No commerce is done now in Palestine in this substance as of old (Genesis 37:25; 43:11), but it is still gathered from various species of cistus, especially C. creticus in the Greek Isles, where it is collected by threshing the plants by a kind of flail from which the sticky mass is scraped off with a knife and rolled into small black balls. In Cyprus at the present time the gum is collected from the beards of the goats that browse on these shrubs, as was done in the days of Herodotus iii.112).
E. W. G. Masterman
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