An Alabaster Box of Precious Ointment: Myrrh

Myrrh used throughout antiquity was often valued as gold.                   by lowjumpingfrog

Myrrh used throughout antiquity was often valued as gold. by lowjumpingfrog

Today we are going to look at another herb in the Burseraceae family, Myrrh. As we learned in the previous post about balm, This family contains several trees that give off resinous gum when their bark is cut. Frankincense is also part of this family.

The Biblical Plant Myrrh

The Hebrew word translated as Myrrh is מור  or  מר , mor,   The concordance refers to it as:  from marar; myrrh (as distilling in drops, and also as bitter) — myrrh.

The biblical trees known as myrrh are: Commiphora abyssinica and Commiphora schimperi, they are from Arabia and Africa.

Some translations also translate the Hebrew word לט lot as myrrh but this is better translated as ladanum a species of cistus.

Historical Uses of Myrrh

Myrrh was valued at times as high as gold and was used for perfume, anointing, religious ceremonies, burial, medicine, and healing ointment.

It is also used in Western herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

This is one of the spices used to compound the anointing oil for temple and priesthood. This exact mixture described below was forbidden to be used for anything else than God’s commanded temple service.

Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.

(Exodus 30:23-25)

Maidens would use myrrh as perfume to anoint their bodies before marriage or before going before the king.

Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)
(Esther 2:12)

The Greek word is smýrna and Strong’s  refers to it as: “Apparently strengthened for muron; myrrh — myrrh.” The Greek word muron is likely the precious ointment that was poured over Yeshua’s head. This is also thought to be myrrh oil or ointment.

There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
(Matthew 26:7)

Myrrh is of course one of the gifts given to the young child Yeshua by the wise men and is said to represent purification, death, and burial.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
(Matthew 2:11)

Myrrh was often used to comfort the dying and was given to those who were in pain.

And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.
(Mark 15:23)

We also see myrrh, as we did aloe, being used in Yeshua’s burial.

And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
(John 19:39-40)

Myrrh can be purchased in powdered form, as a tincture or essential oil. by Tamra

Myrrh can be purchased in powdered form, as a tincture or essential oil. by Tamra

Materia Medica:

Today the plant used for myrrh in medicine is a related plant in the same family Commiphora myrrha or C.  molmol. 


Myrrh has many medicinal uses. By Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen (List of Koehler Images) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Myrrh has many medicinal uses.
By Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (List of Koehler Images) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

alterative, analgesic, emmenagogue,
rejuvenative, astringent, expectorant,
antispasmodic, antiseptic,

Uses: deodorant, disinfectant, topically: cracked skin,eczema, ringworm, wounds, boils, mouth wash for inflammation and gum disease, digestion, diarrhea, immunity, cough, cold, asthma, bronchitis, tonsillitis, arthritis, yeast infections, menopause, and menstrual difficulties.

Myrrh is also a very popular essential oil.

Normal dose: tincture 1-4 ml 3 x day

Powder: infusion 1-2  tsp 8 oz water 3 x day

Gargle 5-10 drops tincture in 8 oz water

General considerations: Myrrh is very bitter and may need to be diluted well when taken internally or used as mouth wash.

Safety: Hypoglycemic properties have been documented thus care should be taken by diabetics and hypoglycemics.

Simple Myrrh Mouth Was

For tooth pain a quick and simple myrrh mouthwash can be made with myrrh essential oil.

1-5 drops myrrh essential oil

1 ounce vodka

1 tsp salt

4 oz. warm water

Put 1-5 drops myrrh essential oil in 1 tsp salt. Essential oils do not mix with water so it is necessary to mix it with salt or another carrier prior to adding to water. Stir into 4 oz warm water and add 1 oz. of vodka. Gargle and swish, spit out. Do not swallow.




Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2008 The Gale Group, Myrrh.


Medical Herbalism, 2003, David Hoffman FNIMH, AHG



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About Tamra Speakman

Tamra is a holistic herbalist. She has over a decade of prior experience as a Licensed Vocational Nurse. Tamra owns, Shatul where she educates believers on using God's creation to obtain wellness and vitality. Shatul offers consultations, Deeply Rooted in the Word of God, in person, online, or via the phone for you and your entire family.


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