Anthony V. Gaudiano
Myrrh (Strong’s has several words for Myrrh: 3910 - a gum (from its sticky nature) probably ladanum, 4753 - distilling in drops and also as bitter, 4666 - perfumed oil: ointment, 4669 - to tincture with myrrh, i.e. embitter (as a narcotic):-mingle with myrrh.
Myrrh is an aromatic gum resin, generally believed have been obtained from the low-growing thorny shrub or tree known as Commiphora myrrha (Balsamodendron myrrha) or the related variety Commiphora kataf. Both thrive in rocky areas particularly on limestone hills.
The wood and bark of such plants have a strong odor. Although the resin exudes by itself from the stem or the thick and stiff branches of either variety, the flow can be increased by means of incisions.
Initially the clear, white, or yellowish-brown resin is soft and sticky, but upon dripping to the ground to the ground it hardens and turns dark red or black.
It is collected and is marketed as a spice, medicine, or cosmetic (Song of Songs 5; Matt 2:11; Mark 15:23; John 19:39).
In Genesis 37:25 and 43:11 the Hebrew word ‘l4t’ is generally translated as “myrrh.” However, some question whether Commiphora myrrha, now native to Arabia and east Africa, was known in Palestine during the patriarchal period.
A better translation for lot word is considered to be “labdanum,” a gummy resin produced by the small labdanum scrub (Cistus creticus L.), growing abundantly in the rocks and sand in Palestine.
References to myrrh are in Prov. 7:17 - “perfumed my bed with myrrh,[likely as a sprinkled powder]” Song 5:5 - “my hands dripped with myrrh”[perhaps myrrh dissolved in oil or wine], Matt. 2:11 - “gold, frankincense, and myrrh,” Mark 15:23 - “wine mingled with myrrh ...” [indicates the resin is soluble in water and alcohol.