The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Myrrh is a red-brown resinous material, the dried sap of the Commiphora myrrha tree, indigenous to Somalia. A number of other Commiphora or Balsamodendron saps are also known as myrrh, including that from Commiphora erythraea (sometimes called East Indian myrrh), Commiphora opobalsamum, and Balsamodendron kua. Myrrh is a constituent of perfumes and incense, and was highly prized in ancient times. Its name is derived from the Hebrew murr or maror, meaning "bitter."

Myrrh was one of the gifts of the Magi to the baby Jesus in the story told in the Gospel of Matthew. Myrrh was used as an incense in funerals and cremations, a fact alluded to in the Christmas carol We Three Kings, and as an additive to wine, a practice alluded to by ancient authorities, such as Fabius Dorsennus.

Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12