Plants of the Bible

(Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible)

U. Myrrh. The King James Version uses the word myrrh with reference to different plants. One of these was a small tree with bushy branches and three-sectioned leaves, bearing a plum-like fruit, and producing a fragrant gum that had many uses. The Hebrew word for this plant was mor. It was used in anointing oil (Exod. 30:23), in perfume (Psa. 45:8; Prov. 7:17; Song 3:6), and in ceremonial cleansing (Esther 2:12). The magi brought it to the baby Jesus (Matt. 2:11). It was offered to Jesus on the cross (Mark 15:23), and was used to prepare Jesus' body for burial (John 19:39).

The myrrh mentioned in Genesis 37:25 and 43:11 was probably the tree Cistus creticus. The Hebrew word for this plant is lot. This shrub produces pink flowers and is sometimes known as the "rock "rose." It is very fragrant and valued for its perfume.

The tree that produces the myrrh used in modern times is not of the same genus or species as the myrrh of Bible times.
Ladanum (Heb. lot, translated "myrrh" in Gen. xxxvii. 25, xliii. i i), the resinous exudation of Cistus creticus, C. ladaniferus and other species of "rock rose" or "rose of Sharon";


Myrrh in the Old Testament

Myrrh- O.T.
Hebrew: lot
Cistus creticus

One of the best known stories is the betrayal of Joseph by his brothers in the Old Testament. Later when they were in desperate need of food, they went to him at Pharaoh's Court. In humility they asked for help to give them food. In Palestine in early spring, there thrives amid sand and rocks a small shrub. It is about the size of a dwarf rhododendron. Growing everywhere, on plains, mountain sides and in rocky desert areas, throughout the summer its flowers are seen. The myrrh flowers are shaped like wild roses and are rich pink deepening to a crimson red. Centered within the five petals are vivid gold stamens and a single erect pistil. It is the "rock rose," also known as the "lot plant." It provides a sweet smelling gum from all its parts and peasants have gathered it for centuries. They use a small stick wound around with soft cloth, and on calmer days, they carefully wipe the sweet substance from the shrub and round it into balls. It is then pressed into cakes that are used for perfume. This is the "lot" which through a mistranslation has been rendered in parts of the Old Testament as "myrrh." The true myrrh came from the plant called "mor."


Myrrh of Bible.

 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 ¯T0001419.) 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.
Cistus Creticus or Rock Rose That Cistus grow in East Mediterranean.

(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.

Bibliography Information
Easton, Matthew George. M.A., D.D., "Biblical Meaning for 'Myrrh' Eastons Bible Dictionary".
bible-history.com - Eastons; 1897.