An aromatic gum resin. (Ca 1:13; 4:6, 14; 5:1, 13) Its precise source in ancient times is uncertain. But generally myrrh is the resin obtained from various thorny shrubs or small trees of the genus Commiphora, such as Commiphora myrrha or Commiphora abyssinica. These shrubs thrive in rocky areas, particularly on limestone hills. Their wood and bark have a strong odor. Although the resin exudes by itself from the stem or from the thick and stiff branches of either variety, the flow can be increased by means of incisions. Initially the resin is soft and sticky but, upon dripping to the ground, it hardens.
Myrrh was one of the ingredients for the holy anointing oil. (Ex 30:23-25) Esteemed for its fragrance, it was used to scent garments, beds, and other items. (Compare Ps 45:8; Pr 7:17; Ca 3:6, 7.) The Shulammite maiden of The Song of Solomon appears to have applied liquid myrrh to her body before retiring for the night. (Ca 5:2, 5) Massages with oil of myrrh were included in the special beauty treatment given to Esther. (Es 2:12) Myrrh was also one of the substances employed in preparing bodies for burial. (Joh 19:39, 40) It was apparently viewed as having sufficient value to be presented as a gift to one born king of the Jews.—Mt 2:1, 2, 11.