Why was myrrh used in burial?



In the cultures of Bible times, burial in a tomb, cave, or in the ground was the common way to dispose of a human body (Genesis 23:19; 35:4; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Matthew 27:60–66). The most common mode of burial in the Bible was to place the dead in above-ground tombs, for those who could afford it. For those who could not afford it, bodies were buried in the ground. In the New Testament, above-ground tombs were still reserved as burial places for the wealthy. This is why Jesus, who had no earthly wealth at all, was buried in a borrowed tomb (Matthew 27:57–60).


Myrrh was also a product of Arabia, and was obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. It was a spice and was used in embalming. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to Jesus when He was about to be crucified, as a stupefying potion (Mark 15:23). Matthew 27:34 refers to it as “gall.” Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction. The baby Jesus would grow to suffer greatly as a man and would pay the ultimate price when He gave His life on the cross for all who would believe in Him.

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