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While John 19 describes ancient burial practices, it is far more than that. Here we have two men who boldly identified themselves with what would be viewed as a failed leader. At one time they may have feared man, but not now. Their lives were inalterably changed by Jesus. As a final act of devotion, they boldly request the battered body of Jesus and tenderly prepare it for burial.

The plant called aloe here is unique in the Scripture. It is not the aloe mentioned in Psalm 45:8 and elsewhere in the Old Testament which is probably derived from an Asian tree. The New Testament aloe is Aloe barbadense, an interesting plant no longer known from nature. Aloe is a low growing perennial with thick, fleshy leaves filled with a gelatinous material that was used as an embalming fluid in Egypt. Today, the extract of aloe is used as a balm for burns and as a skin ointment.

The amount of aloes would be more than adequate for embalming. With no fragrance of its own, mixed with the myrrh aloe would enhance and retain fragrance.