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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Frankincense & Myrrh

Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae, particularly Boswellia sacra (syn: B. bhaw-dajiana), B. carterii, B. frereanaB. serrata (B. thurifera, Indian frankincense), and B. papyrifera. The English word is derived from Old French "franc encens" (i.e., high quality incense). 
There are four main species of Boswellia that produce true frankincense. Resin from each of the four is available in various grades. The grades depend on the time of harvesting; the resin is hand-sorted for quality.

Frankincense was one of the consecrated incenses (HaKetoret) described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmudused in Ketoret ceremonies. The frankincense of the Jews, as well as of the Greeks and Romans, is also called Olibanum (from the Hebrew חלבנה). Old Testament references report it in trade from Sheba. Frankincense is mentioned in the Song of Solomon Song of Solomon 4:14
It was offered on a specialized incense altar in the time when the Tabernacle was located in the First and Second Jerusalem Temples. The ketoret was an important component of the Temple service in Jerusalem. It is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible book of Exodus 30:34, where it is named levonah (lebonah in the Biblical Hebrew), meaning "white" in Hebrew.[9] It was one of the ingredients in the perfume of the sanctuary (Exodus 30:34), and was used as an accompaniment of the meal-offering (Leviticus 2:12:166:1524:7). When burnt it emitted a fragrant odour, and the incense was a symbol of the Divine name (Malachi 1:11 ; Song of Solomon 1:3) and an emblem of prayer (Psalm 141:2 ; Luke 1:10 ; Revelation 5:88:3). It was often associated with myrrh (Song of Solomon 3:64:6) and with it was made an offering to the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:11). A specially "pure" kind, lebhonah zakkah, was presented with the showbread (Leviticus 24:7). 

Frankincense from Yemen

Myrrh /ˈmɜːr/ from the Hebrew '"מור"' ("mor") and Arabic مر (mur) is a natural gum or resin extracted from a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora. Myrrh resin has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine. Myrrh mixed with wine can also be ingested.
In numerous places in the Old Testament, such as Genesis 37:25 and Exodus 30:23, myrrh is mentioned as a rare perfume with intoxicating qualities.
Myrrh is also mentioned in the New Testament as one of the three gifts the magi presented to the Christ Child(Matthew 2:11). Myrrh was also present at Jesus's death and burial. Jesus was offered wine and myrrh before the crucifixion (Mark 15:23). Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea brought a 100-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes to wrap Jesus' body (John 19:39).

Commiphora myrrha tree, one of the primary trees from which myrrh is harvested.

Myrrh was used by the ancient Egyptians, along with natron, for the embalming of mummies. 
Myrrh was an ingredient of Ketoret, the consecrated incense used in the First and Second Temples at Jerusalem, as described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. An offering was made of the Ketoret on a special incense altar and was an important component of the Temple service. Myrrh is also listed as an ingredient in the holy anointing oil used to anoint the Tabernacle, high priests and kings.
Oil of myrrh is used in Esther 2:12 in a purification ritual for the new queen to King Ahasuerus:
"Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)
Myrrh was traded by camel caravans overland from areas of production in southern Arabia by the Nabataeans to their capital city of Petra, from which it was distributed throughout the Mediterranean region. 
According to the book of Matthew 2:11goldfrankincense and myrrh were among the gifts to Jesus by the Biblical Magi "from the East". Because of its mention in the New Testament, myrrh is an incense offered during Christian liturgical celebrations (see Thurible). Liquid myrrh is sometimes added to egg tempera in the making of icons.
Matthew records that as Jesus went to the cross, they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink (Matthew 27:34). Mark described the drink as wine mingled with myrrh (Mark 15:23).
Myrrh is mixed with frankincense and sometimes more scents and is used in almost every service of the Eastern OrthodoxOriental Orthodox, traditional Roman Catholic and Anglican/Episcopal Churches.
Myrrh is also used to prepare the sacramental chrism used by many churches of both Eastern and Western rites. In the Middle East, the Eastern Orthodox Church traditionally uses oil scented with myrrh (and other fragrances) to perform the sacrament of chrismation, which is commonly referred to as "receiving the Chrism".
According to the Encyclopedia of Islamic Herbal Medicine, "The Messenger of Allah stated, 'Fumigate your houses with al-shih, murr, and sa'tar.'" The author claims that this use of the word "murr" refers specifically to Commiphora myrrha. 

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