Notes Myrrh

My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

Song of Solomon 5:4-5 (KJV)

My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me. I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, upon the handles of the bolt.

Song of Solomon 5:4-5 (RSV)

My dear one himself pulled back his hand from the hole [of the door], and my inward parts themselves became boistrous within me. I got up, even I, to open to my dear one, and my own hands dripped with myrrh and my fingers with liquid myrrh; upon the hollows of the lock.

Song of Solomon 5:4-5 (NWT)

All three versions seethe with sex and myrrh, a not uncommon linkage in the Bible. But which myrrh? I doubt that Herbal PDR and Commission-E writers are any wiser than the wise men of the Nativity; or Felter in 1898; or Madaus in 1938; or even me in 1985, 1999, 2005, or today, at knowing which species of Commiphora is myrrh, especially when faced only with the imported gum, and not flowering and fruiting herbarium vouchers. Myrrh shows up in at least a dozen places in ten books of the Bible. We will never know which of many species it was, of the complicated genus Commiphora. Many authors equate this one with the biblical myrrh, but none with final authority. PH2 entries below were derived from Gruenwald's entry for C. molmol. The USDA (USN) and

Philips (HJP) equate C. molmol with C. myrrha. AH2 treats them as distinct species but with the same standardized common name, myrrh (AH2). Hence, the data below may be attributed to either species, whether or not the source of the data believed that they are one and the same.

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