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The Wisdom of the Wise Men’s Gifts

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“…Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” –from Matthew 2:11

This is a familiar portion of the story of the magi, (sometimes called “wise men”; routinely said to be “three” in number, though the Biblical account gives no number), who came from a great distance to find Jesus. They brought Jesus gifts from “their treasures”, including gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Scholars have written much about the significance of those gifts. Some have said that the significance of the gifts were symbolic of various stages of His life and roles He would play. The gold represents kingship, the frankincense represents a priestly role, and the myrrh envisions an embalming preparation after death.

Others have pointed out that the frankincense and myrrh played significant roles in the Eastern world for their medicinal benefits. Both were antiseptics, and would be excellent remedies in those days against infections and injuries. Both also have the wonderfully exotic fragrances, as well as some preservative qualities. 

Today, research has shown that both of these spices have incredible antioxidant capacity. Frankincense is loaded with monoterpenes, which is a class of compounds that help restore normal cellular function. Myrrh is a prime source of sesquiterpenes, which may also help restore cellular function, and also may carry oxygen into cells.

Without making any medical claims, and having no financial stake in any companies that manufacture products made from these spices, I will tell you that there is a growing body of research that is demonstrating the value of these products in the most serious of diseases. To properly harvest and process them well requires a huge investment. So, as in the days of the magi, it requires a bit of “treasure” to take full advantage of these kinds of resources.

Regardless of the historic or modern roles, these treasured gifts no doubt demonstrate the value that wise men placed on coming before Jesus face-to-face. In my opinion, no gift they could have given Jesus can compare with the glorious gift of His being here with us.


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