Only two of the gospels narrate the giving of wine with an additive to Lord Jesus immediately before his crucifixion, Matthew 27:33-34 and Mark 15:22-23. This event must not be confused with the second offering of sour wine the Lord was given after He was crucified and shortly before his exhalation, which is contained across the four gospels equally.

However, the account in Matthew mentions that Jesus was given wine mixed with gall, while Mark’s account says that it was wine with myrrh, normally understood to be substance totally different to gall.


Many ideas have been given as to what “gall” means exactly in the text; from being bile to a herbal narcotic. The Greek word used in Matthew is χολή which is imprecise and by context it has been identified with a bitter substance that may have served to dull pain, most probably “wormwood” (Proverbs 5:4; Lamentations 3:15), a plant used to these days as an “amphetamine like” substance that works in the central nervous system and can heighten the endurance to pain among other things.

Because wormwood can also produce an agreeable odour despite the bitterness of its crude taste, some have theorised that Mark calls it “myrrh”, referring to the acceptable smell of the wormwood used in the wine, which Matthew names “gall”, due to the bitterness of its taste. 

All agree however, that it was given as an endurance substance as a final act of mercy to those condemned to gruesome deaths like crucifixion.


Myrrh on the other side, is a resin extracted from the Commiphora plant, with a strong sweet smell and a very bitter taste, even bitter than wormwood, and with a stronger analgesic power.


Considering all hypothesis, what most probably happened, is that Lord Jesus, as an ultimate act of mercy, was offered “posca”, a cheap sour wine mixed with real myrrh, to dull his senses to pain and stress. Since Myrrh alone would fulfil all the characteristics and purpose of the substance, it may be possible that the word “χολή” used by Matthew, and translated as “gall”, may only refer to the bitter taste, “bile like” of this substance.

Jesus accepted to taste it, in order to fulfil the prophecy of Psalm 69:21 but refused it any further

Jesus willingly accepted his suffering and decided to endure to the last spasm of pain, in full control of his senses. In this way, Jesus’s sacrifice was offered clean, complete and unadulterated.

Omar Flores.