What does Myrrh Symbolize in the Bible? (Biblical Symbolism and Meaning)

I have a deep respect for morgue attendants and funeral home workers. These professionals perform the macabre duty of taking care of taking care of the departed and preparing them for a proper burial. This process usually requires the use of certain substances. In ancient times, myrrh was one of the spices used in embalming the deceased. When Jesus was born, the wise men gifted Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold and frankincense make sense as a baby gift. However, I have always felt that there is a need to explore the meaning of myrrh. That is why I often wonder; what does myrrh symbolize in the Bible?

Myrrh shows up in the book of Exodus 30:23. Here, God lists it as a crucial ingredient in the making of the anointing oil. In light of this, one might say that Myrrh was a symbol of holiness. In the book of Matthew 2:11, the wise men thought it was prudent to include it among the gifts for baby Jesus. This implies that the Bible uses myrrh to signify a new beginning. This logic also applies in the first example because once a person is anointed, their lives change forever. The Bible also states that liquid myrrh was used to make perfumes and oils. This is illustrated in the book of Esther 2:12. In this case, myrrh may have been a symbol of beauty and rejuvenation. The book of John 19:39 uses myrrh as a sign of death. Nicodemus brings it to embalm the body of Jesus after His crucifixion.

Join me as we study the symbolism and significance of myrrh in the Bible In this article, I will discuss the various uses of this complex spice. Read on to learn more about myrrh from a biblical point of view.

Where is myrrh mentioned in the Bible?

The Bible talks about myrrh many times. The following are a few examples. The first biblical reference to myrrh occurs in the book of Genesis 37:25. Joseph’s brothers saw a caravan carrying several trading items, among them myrrh. Myrrh was one of the most sought-after products. This explains why the Ishmaelites were going to sell in Egypt. Later in Genesis 43:11, Jacob urges his sons to carry myrrh and other good things as they go back to Egypt with Benjamin. In Revelations 18:1-14, John writes about the fall of the great city of Babylon. Scripture explains how all forms of trading will end at the expense of the business people (merchants) in the world. When Babylon falls, the Bible says that there will be no one to buy wine, frankincense, or myrrh.

What is the significance of myrrh in the Bible?

What does Myrrh Symbolize in the Bible? 
Significance of myrrh in the Bible. Image source: Pinterest

Myrrh was an emblem of improvement in biblical times. In many instances, myrrh was used to improve the quality of other substances. A great example is the cosmetic oil referred to in the book of Esther 2:12. Scripture says that the palace beauticians used “oil or myrrh” to massage the virgins. This beauty treatment lasted six months. The healing qualities of myrrh have served humanity for centuries. Roman soldiers would use this spice to treat serious wounds. During embalming, people would use myrrh on a corpse to cover the bad smell. This is another instance where Myrrh was an enhancement agent.

What is the spiritual meaning of myrrh?

The juxtaposed nature of myrrh speaks to the dynamic nature of life. On a spiritual level, myrrh could be a sign of continuity and positivity, even in sadness. When myrrh is involved, there is a pleasant outcome. This applies even in morbid situations such as the death of Christ. Even in the persecution of the Church of Smyrna (Greek of the church of Myrrh) in Revelations 2:9, there is a satisfying aftermath where the church receives a “crown of life.”

How was myrrh used in the Bible?

As stated earlier, myrrh was used to make anointing oil in the book of Exodus 30: 23. In this scripture, certain factors are eye-catching. First, among all the ingredients God mentioned, myrrh was required to be in the purest form. God instructed Moses to use twice as much myrrh as cinnamon and cane. Moreover, God mentioned myrrh first when giving Moses these instructions. The properties of myrrh were crucial to the final composition of the anointing oil.

On many occasions, characters in the Bible use myrrh to make perfume. According to Psalms 45:8, King David wore perfume made from liquid myrrh. In Proverbs 7:17, the indecent woman talks about covering her beddings with perfumes of myrrh and other sweet-smelling substances. She does this to lure her potential lover into her house. The sweet-smelling elements of myrrh were also essential in the embalming of a dead body. As earlier talked about, Nicodemus used myrrh and aloes to preserve the body of Jesus in the tomb.

Myrrh was also used in making cosmetic oils, as illustrated in the second chapter of Esther. Elsewhere in the book of Song of Solomon 5:5, myrrh is used for cosmetic purposes. Additionally, myrrh has medicinal uses, as shown in the book of Mark 15:23. Here, some of the Roman soldiers offered Jesus some myrrh-infused wine to act as an anaesthetic. This was a common use of myrrh during biblical times.

What is the symbolic meaning of myrrh in the Bible?

What does Myrrh Symbolize in the Bible?
Symbolic meaning of myrrh in the Bible. Image source: Pinterest

When Queen Vashti scorned the King in the book of Esther 2: 3, the king’s advisers told him to take a new wife. All the virgins in the land were invited to vie for this coveted position. Now, not all these young women came from well-up families. Even Esther was an orphan. To level the playing field, the girls were all subjected to intense beauty treatments. As you can guess, myrrh was one of the most crucial elements in beautifying the girls. The virgins spent half the year getting treatment with myrrh to look their best before appearing in front of King Xerxes. Myrrh was a symbol of beauty.

The very first biblical usage of Myrrh is during the making of the anointing oil in the book of Exodus. God instructs Moses to get a large quantity of pure myrrh (12 pounds). The Bible uses myrrh to signify holiness. That is why Myrrh was always used to make anointing oil throughout the Bible.

When the wise picked gifts for Jesus, they included myrrh. They were going to celebrate the birth of a new King. They were also celebrating the looming defeat of the kingdom of darkness. In their case, myrrh was a sign of a new beginning and hope. That said, the use of myrrh after the crucifixion of Jesus was possibly a symbol of death.

What does myrrh represent in the Bible?

Many people suggest that Myrrh is a representation of suffering. That is because of its association with the death of Jesus Christ. In the book of Mark 15:23, the Roman soldiers tried to make Jesus drink some wine, and Jesus declined. What is interesting about this scripture is that the wine was mixed with myrrh, which the Bible refers to as a drug. They did this to help Him cope better with the pain. The Bible mentions myrrh in suffering yet again in the book of Revelations 2:8-11. These verses talk about the persecution of the Church of Smyrna. This church is poor, and some of its members are sent to prison for their faith in Christ. Theologians suggest that “the church of Smyrna,” mentioned in this scripture, is one of the seven churches of Asia. In the Greek language, “Smyrna” translates to myrrh.

Why did the magi bring myrrh to Jesus as a gift?

Myrrh was a key part of sacred anointing oil among Israelites. In the Old Testament, we learn that the Tabernacle was constructed with pure gold. The functional part of the Tabernacle was delegated to the priests. According to scripture, incense and anointing oil played crucial roles in the functional side of the Tabernacle. It would be safe to assume that the Magi would have this insight. In that case, gold was a representation of the structural elements of the new church initiated by Christ. The frankincense was symbolic of the incense, while the myrrh was a reminder of the anointing oil.

What did Jesus do with His gold, frankincense, and myrrh?

The Bible does not clearly state what Jesus and His parents did with the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. However, it is possible to make certain speculations based on the useful qualities of each gift. Gold was and is still a pricy commodity. It was even more valuable than money. Since Jesus and His parents were running for their lives, gold must have been quite useful during their journey. They might have traded it for food, accommodations, clothing, and many other essentials. Studies prove that both myrrh and frankincense have medicinal value. Mary and Joseph must have used these spices to treat any ailments coming up during their journey. Mary had also just delivered a child. That means that they could have used frankincense and myrrh to reduce the chance of infection and other post-natal complications.

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