Kingly Gifts, Part 1-Myrrh

Kingly Gifts, Part One – Myrrh

Most people know of myrrh as one of the gifts the Wise Men gave baby Jesus:

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

Many Internet sources mention myrrh as a gift of great value – one acceptable to honor a king. It was an anointing oil and possibly a foreshadowing of the way Jesus’ earthly life would end. Myrrh was known as an embalming spice. The words of the Christmas carol “We Three Kings” explain the spiritual significance of the gift:

Myrrh is mine: its bitter perfume

Breaths a life of gathering gloom.

Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,

Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Later scripture bears this out as well:

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.            John 19:39

According to an interesting article on www.history.com:

“’We have textual – and also archaeological – evidence that both frankincense and myrrh were used as medicinal substances in antiquity,’ confirmed Alain Touwaide, a historian of medicine at the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions and the Smithsonian Institution.”

The article also mentions myrrh has been traded beginning more than 5,000 years ago by people in the Middle East and North Africa. Biblical references begin as early as Genesis 37:25. The medicinal properties of myrrh were valued by the father of modern medicine.

“According to Touwaide, myrrh appears with more frequency than any other plant substance in the writings of the Greek physician Hippocrates, who revolutionized the field of medicine in the fourth and third centuries B.C.”

In modern medicine, the history.com article mentioned some hopeful uses for myrrh:

“In a series of clinical and laboratory studies over the last two decades, frankincense and myrrh have shown promise in addressing a number of common disorders. For example, a 1996 paper reported that myrrh blunts pain in mice, while a 2009 study suggested that it might help lower cholesterol.”

As an essential oil, myrrh is used for issues of the mouth – sores, gum disease and sore throats. Myrrh is helpful for thyroid, digestive and respiratory issues. It is also known for its many properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic.

Noted for healing wounds, myrrh essential oil is especially beneficial for wounds that are slow to heal. I think myrrh has an interesting parallel as to how it is obtained. The Commiphora tree that myrrh comes from is actually wounded in order to obtain the oil. The bark is cut, which yields a tear-shaped resin. Is the tree trying to heal itself with its own tears?

Most fascinating to me, however, are the key emotions attributed to myrrh: humility, tranquility, stillness, compassionate and watchfulness. It has been used historically to address the fears of death separation.

Myrrh – what an appropriate gift from a king to the King of Kings.

Lori