Matthew 2:11

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

John 19:39

He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.

Is it a coincidence that myrrh appears in the birth and death stories of Jesus?

  • Myrrh was used for many different purposes (medicine, incense, perfume, etc), so to see it in many different places is completely unshocking.
    – RonJohn
    Jun 13, 2021 at 22:04

2 Answers 2


One of the many film adaptations of the Nativity Story (this one is called The Nativity Story ) proposes specific meanings to each of the gifts of the magi.

These interpretations are not given in scripture nor are they my own ideas, but they are insightful and reasonable in context:

  1. Gold for the king of all kings

  2. Frankincense for the priest of all priests

  3. Myrrh to honor Thy sacrifice

In this sense myrrh, often used in the burial of those who could afford it, was symbolic of the sacrifice Jesus would make. It is possible that Matthew had this in mind when he wrote -- but that possibility would be stronger if it was Matthew who called out the myrrh in the passion narrative.

Whether Matthew had it in mind or not, the Magi did offer a rather symbolic gift: myrrh for the One who would give His life for all.

  • 1
    +1. Stumbled upon this while studying. I would like to note that the myrrh was used in the oil that was also used for anointing. Such as priests and kings. (Might have some significance to Jesus)
    – Jason_
    May 8 at 3:25

The myrrh mentioned in the Bible is probably the resin from the "Balsamodenron myrrha" tree that grows in NE Africa and parts of Arabia. It had various uses in the Bible:

  • a person perfume used in intimate encounters, Est 2:12, Prov 7:17, SS 1:13, 3:6, 4:6, 14, 5:5, 13, 6:12, etc
  • A component of the holy incense used in the sanctuary service,
  • an expensive gift fit for nobility, Gen 43:11, 37:25, 2 Chron 9:24, Isa 39:2, etc.
  • As a component of embalming fluids used in burial service, Matt 26:12, Mark 14:8, John 12:3, 7, John 19:39.

From the above, when connected with Jesus, it appears that Myrrh was used as one of the embalming fluids that was usually reserved for the most extravagant burials of nobility.

In the case of Matt 2:11, all three gifts were consistent with extravagance fit for nobility or royalty.

  • The Gold was used extensively in the sanctuary/temple and was used extensively by Solomon
  • Frankincense was used in the sanctuary/temple holy incense and as a gift to nobility and royalty (as well as intimately, SS 4:6)
  • Similarly, Myrrh also has the same connotations

Thus, the magi at His birth marked Jesus was born a king (Matt 1:1-16, Luke 1:32, 33, John 1:49, etc) ; and Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus gave Jesus a burial fit for nobility and nobility (Isa 53:9, 12, John 19:38-40).

This is consistent with Jesus being both High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 2:17, 4:14-16, 5:10, 6:20, 7:26, 27, 8:1, 6, 9:11, 10:12, etc) and King of God's eternal Kingdom.

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