Balsamodendrum habessinicum O. Berg; Commiphora abyssinica (O. Berg) Engl., orth. var. Notes (Abyssinian Myrrh):
Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh, and aloes and cassia.
Psalms 45:8 (RSV)
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 (KJV)
And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11 (RSV)
And when they went into the house they saw the young child with Mary its mother, and, falling down, they did obeisance to it. They also opened their treasures and presented it with gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11 (NWT)
Following those two biblical quotes, Zohary says, "Mor is justly translated 'myrrh', which is identical with the species of Commiphora abyssinica," (ZOH) now orthographically corrected to Commiphora habessinica. But Zohary goes on to say, "Further investigation is required to confirm the identification." (ZOH) Conveniently, this is alphabetically the first of 20 species (there are about 200 species in this confusing genus) covered by the USDA Nomenclature Database, until you change the orthography. Then, C. africana is first alphabetically. Neither Zohary nor I know which species is the myrrh of the Bible. But Zohary selected this one; in my first Bible book (BIB), I selected C. africana as bdellium and C. myrrha as myrrh, after wrestling with the long lists of candidates. With a little lobbying input from my editorial assistants, I honed in on C. erythraea in my second Bible book (BI2). I am not embarrassed to side with Zohary's selection of C. habessinica. After all, Zohary has lived most of his life and his career as a botanist in the Holy Land, and I have spent no more than a total of 6 weeks in the Holy Land (Egypt, Israel). Zohary notes that myrrh (of undetermined specific identity), most precious of the resins, is connected with both the birth and death of Jesus (ZOH). Because of its readiness to strike root from cuttings, many ethnic groups associate the tree and the myrrh with immortality.
Was this article helpful?