Skip to main content

Gold, Frankincense And Myrhh : Why These Gifts Were Given To A Newborn Jesus....

The Christmas Story

We often tell the story of the Saviour's birth. We tell it with respect, admiration and emotion. Sometimes, we tell it incorrectly....because that is how it was told to us. Does the Bible, really say, " three wise men", or do we assume it was three, because of the three gifts?

Do we tell the meaning of the gifts given? Have we, ourselves even asked, if they have meaning?

Does it really say the gifts were presented to the newborn Jesus, or could he have been a toddler by the time the wise men found him?

How we imagine the scene

How we imagine the scene

The Book of Matthew

 1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

   2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

   3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

   4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

   5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

   6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

   7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

   8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

   9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

   10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

   11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

What The Story Does And Does Not Say

This account does not tell us that three wise men made a visit to the infant Jesus. It says men, meaning there was more than one visitor.

It says they were instructed by Herod to go and search for the young child and return to him with His location.

It also says that the star stood over where the young child was.

It does not say they found Jesus in the manger, but in the house. The manger, is where the shepherds came from the field to see the newborn Jesus. That story is told in Luke, chapter 2 verses 8-16.

It  clearly says that they presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrhh. It does not say, by how many or in what quantities the gifts were given.

Scroll to Continue

Luke's account does not tell us how the wise men knew of the Saviours birth, and how Herod knew of their search.  Something about them caused a stir, because  Herod and all Jerusalem were " troubled".

We are not told where the wise men came from exactly, only that it was "east".

Maybe this?

Maybe this?

 Maybe this?

Maybe this?

Not this....

Not this....

Gold

Let us go beyond the US Mint, The Treasury Department, and Portfolio Investments. To understand the value of giving gold to the young Jesus, we need to think as people in that era may have thought.

Man's fascination with gold goes back to the beginnings of recorded history. One might say that gold is mankind's security blanket.

The temple priests used the relic metal for adornment in ancient Egypt circa 3000 B.C.   It is curious to note,  the early Egyptian's medium of exchange was not gold but barley. The first use of gold as money in 700 B.C. is claimed by the citizens of the Kingdom of Lydia (western Turkey).

Gold is called a "noble" metal (an alchemistic term) because it does not oxidize under ordinary conditions.

The graves of nobles at the ancient Citadel of Mycenae near Nauplion, Greece,( discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876,) yielded a great variety of gold figurines, masks, cups, diadems,( crown or headdress) and jewelry, plus hundreds of decorated beads and buttons.

These elegant works of art were created by skilled craftsmen more than 3,500 years ago.

Although gold was used for its medium of exchange, it was also valued for healing properties, and to signify royalty and nobility.

Just A Bit On Nobles

The Merriam Webster Dictionary has this to say about "noble" :

 possessing outstanding qualities of high birth 

 exalted rank possessing very high or excellent qualities or properties

very good or excellent grand or impressive especially in appearance possessing,

characterized by, or arising from superiority of mind or character or of ideals or morals

Great leaders and great servants would be thought of as possessing these qualities.

Harvesting the frankincense

Harvesting the frankincense

loose frankincense

loose frankincense

Frankincense

In some parts of the world, frankincense is known as olibanum , which comes from the Arabic word for "the milk," al-lubán . This is most likely referring to the milky color of the sap which hardens to make frankincense.

The Bible also mentions it in Exodus 30:34 , it is referred to as levonah , which can mean "white" in Hebrew. In the modern world, the name "frankincense" is a more common term. This name is likely to have been derived from "the incense of the Franks" since it came to Europe via Frankish crusaders.

It was used to perfume the homes of the ancient Romans and Greeks. The Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians used frankincense in their religious rituals. It later became a part of Jewish rites, and even later, in the rites of the Catholic Church.

Frankincense was used during religious rituals, and is thought to symbolize sacrifice, and Christ's divinity, and priestly role.  It signified showing honor and respect to God.

Myrhh

Myrhh

Myrhh

Myrrh refers to the dried resin or sap of a number of trees of various Commiphora and Balsamodendron species. The most common source of myrrh, grows natively in Somalia and eastern Ethiopia. The word myrrh comes from the Hebrew murr or maror , which means "bitter."

Myrrh was extremely valuable in the time of the Roman Empire, when Jesus was born. It was being used as incense, perfume, and in the Holy Oil of the Jews. The Egyptians used it for embalming and fumigating.

Many present day herbal medicine practitioners recommend the use of myrrh as an antiseptic. Myrrh forms an important ingredient of an ointment that is applied externally in treating wounds.

Gifts of value...and meaning

Gifts of value...and meaning

The Symbolic Story

Why did wise men travel, probably by camel, to a distant country, to present a young child with gifts?  Why gold, frankincense and myrrh?

Perhaps, the story of the wise men is to teach us, that if we too, are wise, we will seek Jesus.

Gold , the noble metal, was the gift fit for royalty and kings.

Frankincense, used in Jewish rites, was for the priest and the divine.

Myrrh was the spice of the wounded and the dying.

Whether the wise men were astrologers , seers, or highly educated men, King Herod took note of their journey and had them summoned. This speaks of their importance, their gifts seem to have had an important message as well.

Do You Like To Write ?

  • HubPages New User Signup
    Have your articles published, meet others who share your interests, learn new interests, earn money and retain ownership of your work. All right here with us on HubPages.

What Others Say......

James A Watkins 6 weeks ago

Thank you for this excellent Hub. I have read that the reason these particular gifts were given was that these three things were the most valuable items in the world at the time that were small enough to be sewn into Joseph and Mary's clothes and thereby hidden from robbers, which were common on the road to Egypt. In other words, that God had a hand in the gifts as only He could foresee that they would flee to Egypt.

Other Hubs by Onegoodwoman

  • The Raging Storm, A Driver's Tale
    Kate had left the city behind following Interstate 78 west. She had taken a quick look at her map, she knew she would be following the turnpikes across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Once her run was completed...
  • My Favorite Tree
    My favorite tree Cedar........... It is a soft and feminine wood, igniting quickly, burning hotly, in fact, it is the base for many fires. It is all the more beautiful for its imperfections and repels the...
  • Changing Me First, How God Built Me
    As I was exploring Hub Pages Forums and questions, I came across the most interesting question. I do apologize to the asker, I can not recall your name or even the exact forum..... but it was to the effect of...
  • The Queen of Sheba; What She Desired Of Solomon
    1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. 2 And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that...

Comments

Jeremiah from Nairobi on June 18, 2015:

note that the star was satanic and the wise men were never 3 check out my hub "The Truth Behind the Wise Men and the Star"

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on November 07, 2011:

ThomasRydder,

Welcome to my hub! Glad that your way to it.

Thanks for the kind praise.

Do, stick around, the place is loaded with

good people, and good articles.

ThomasRydder on November 07, 2011:

Good morning...I came onto your site because of the answer you gave to my question about karma and choice. Now I find that you are a gifted writer and thorough researcher. I do believe I'll stick around and see what other fruits lie about :)TR

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on December 27, 2010:

Oceansunsets,

Glad to have a new reader!

Christmas was quiet but content.

Best of the New Year to you~~

Paula from The Midwest, USA on December 24, 2010:

Interesting hub, thank you for sharing, and Merry Christmas to you.

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on December 10, 2010:

Bettybarnesb....

What a lovely and gracious

thing you have said!

Thanks for coming by to read.

Hope to see you again!

bettybarnesb from Bartlett, TN on December 08, 2010:

What I adore about you is you are young and showing a LOVE for God's Word. You will always have the favor of God on your life because you desire to KNOW HIM and share Him. Continue to let the Lord use you.

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on December 06, 2010:

composer2005,

I would not silence a voice, even one such

as your own.

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on December 06, 2010:

Tamarajo,

Thanks for coming by to read my hub.

New readers are always welcome, and I believe

what you say, nothing is insignificant.

Tamarajo on December 06, 2010:

There is nothing in scripture that is without significance.

I enjoyed this study that captured the depth and meaning of the gifts.

Composer2005 on December 06, 2010:

Story book jesus was privileged amongst its peers having allegedly been given Gold and other precious gifts.

So much for the poor struggling jesus!

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on December 02, 2010:

TY.....DaKingsKid

DaKingsKid on December 02, 2010:

Here is a trailer I found on Youtube.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLqzKYmTGcc

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on December 02, 2010:

DaKingsKid,

Good to see you again!

Thanks for the mention, is it a new

release?

I will make a point to search for it.

DaKingsKid on December 02, 2010:

There is a man who put out a Dvd on the Star of Bethlehem, He did his research and wanted to know more of what it is they actually witnessed. Its an awesome DVD worth the time and money plus you can share... Hey thanks again for another wonderful Hub...

Oh yeah the DVD is called "Star of Bethlehem"

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on November 13, 2010:

Hoowantstono.......

your voice is heard here.

Thank you for the time you have

given to my hub.

there is peace.

HOOWANTSTONO on November 13, 2010:

Very interesting and I enjoyed your descriptions

Peace

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on November 13, 2010:

James A Watkins,

I admire your work......and it is

a boost to have you visit mine.

Like you, I have heard the tale of

valuables being sewn into the hems.

If memory serves me, the "Nativity Story",

reflects this idea.

Times have changed, the heart of mankind

has not.........

At the end of the day, when the

theories, ideas, and debates

are through.......I think we

can agree.....God is in control.

All mankind serve as HIS vessels. We can choose

to be vessels of honor

or of dishonor.

Be well my new friend, be well........

James A Watkins from Chicago on November 13, 2010:

Thank you for this excellent Hub. I have read that the reason these particular gifts were given was that these three things were the most valuable items in the world at the time that were small enough to be sewn into Joseph and Mary's clothes and thereby hidden from robbers, which were common on the road to Egypt. In other words, that God had a hand in the gifts as only He could foresee that they would flee to Egypt.

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on November 05, 2010:

Thank you very much Fetty,

I really do appreciate your warm comments. There are a lot of hubs, and it is hard to read them all. Thanks for choosing some of mine.

fetty from South Jersey on November 05, 2010:

Timely hub with wonderful explanations about the three Wise Men and the word of the Bible. I especially liked the paragraph telling what Luke says and doesn't say. Very clear testimony. Great Hub! Thank you.

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on November 04, 2010:

Onstate,

Thank you coming and reading my hub. I do appreciate readers, and like to see new ones.

I do hope some of your thoughts were addressed or answered.

onstate on November 04, 2010:

I wondered about that before.

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on November 03, 2010:

hello there Lady Guinevere,

Thanks for the kudos...

I am glad that you like it and could find something new and useful in there.

Debra Allen from West By God on November 03, 2010:

Great Hub! Lots of great information too. I voted it up and awesome and useful!

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on November 02, 2010:

Welcome Creativeone59,

You are watching, aren't you? :)

Glad to have you hear, and I am glad you

enjoyed the hub.

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on November 02, 2010:

Judicastro!

Hey Lady....

The myrhh seems prophetic to me also.

onegoodwoman (author) from A small southern town on November 02, 2010:

Fiddleman,

Thank you so much for coming by and reading.

I appreciate your kind commentary.

Benny Faye Ashton Douglass from Gold Canyon, Arizona on November 02, 2010:

Thank you onegoodwomen, for a very enlightening and profound hub. Thank you so much for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

Judicastro from birmingham, Alabama on November 02, 2010:

Another great hub dear sister! I find it interesting that we see them bringing myrrh which is used in embalming as a kind of foretelling if you will. Mary breaks her alabaster jar of oil and in essence readys Him for what was to come. It's started me to think about some things. Always glad to see a new hub from you!

Fiddleman on November 02, 2010:

Excellent hub and explanation of the gifts brought by the Magi to Jesus.

Related Articles