SPECIAL TOPIC: BURIAL SPICES

A. Myrrh, a fragrant gum from Arabian trees (BDB 600, KB 629; see UBS, Fauna and Flora of the Bible, pp. 147-148)

1. This spice is mentioned twelve times in the OT, mostly in wisdom literature as a perfume (cf. Ps. 45:8; S of S 1:13; 4:14; 5:1,5)

2. It was one of the gifts brought by the Magi to baby Jesus (cf. Matt. 2:11)

3. Its symbolism is striking

 a. used in "holy anointing oil" (Exod. 30:23-25)

 b. used as a gift for a king (Matt. 2:11)

 c. used to anoint Jesus at His burial (cf. John 19:39 and symbolically in John 11:2). This was according to Jewish customs described in the Talmud (i.e., Berakhoth 53a).

  d. used by the women of Jerusalem in a drink given to scourged men on the way to be crucified (cf. Mark 15:23) to ease the pain

B. Aloes, a fragrant type of wood (BDB 14 III, KB 19)

1. connected to fragrant perfume (cf. Num. 24:6; Ps. 45:8; Pro. 7:17; Song of Songs 4:14; see UBS, Fauna and  Flora of the Bible, pp. 90-91)

2. it was used, mixed with myrrh, by the Egyptians as part of the embalming process

3. Nicodemus brought a large amount of this to Jesus' burial and anointed Him with it (cf. John 19:39). This was according to Jewish customs described in the Talmud (i.e., Betsah 6a).  See Special Topic: Burial Rites

 

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