Matthew 2:11 “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
We have all heard the story about the three wise men travelling from afar to meet the new born baby Jesus. When they arrived they gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Since the early days of Christianity, Biblical scholars and theologians have offered varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of these particular gifts. Often it is assumed that these gifts were given because of their value, to honour a king or deity in the ancient world: gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil.
These three gifts have also been referenced elsewhere in history as gifts given to new kings or given as gifts to the gods, but could these gifts also represent something more than just value?
Some believe they were chosen for their special spiritual symbolism about Jesus himself—gold representing his everlasting kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role and connection to God, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming.
Still others have suggested that the gifts of the magi were a bit more practical—even medicinal in nature. These items, particularly frankincense and myrrh weren’t just ornamental liquids; they were used as medicines. There are numerous references not only in the Bible but also in ancient medical texts that describe their benefits.
Essential oils are known as the first medicines of man, even long before Jesus! The historical accuracy is based on ancient Egyptian heliographs over 5,000 years ago and ancient medical texts from Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in 400BC.
In the Bible alone, frankincense is directly named 22 times. And its most commonly referred to practice involves promoting spiritual awareness by burning it as incense in temples, churches, and in homes. In fact, churches still burn incense to this day for that exact reason!
It is true that when used in aromatherapy, frankincense has very calming and grounding effects so the ancients were definitely on to something! Today, apart from religious ceremonies, frankincense- is used in yoga and other mediation activities to promote meditation, improve attitude and uplift the spirits.
But apart from its spiritual benefit, frankincense also provides certain health benefits. It’s great for healing the skin, especially aging skin, it can help reduce headaches and body aches, it can support the endocrine system, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Frankincense has also been seen to help boost immunity. Boswellic Acids within frankincense have been shown to increase imunnoglobins (anti-bodies for illness) and improve t-cell interactions (fighter cells to fight infection).
The benefits of frankincense can be magnified in the presence of another resin called Myrrh. This may explain why so often the two are presented together. Historical texts pair these two oils together even before Jesus and date their use back to 1500BC.
Above frankincense, myrrh is the most popular and most mentioned oil in the Bible! It is mentioned 157 times! It too is usually referenced with uses in spiritual anointing and burial processes. However, there are some mentions that allude to the oil being used in a more medicinal way.
During this period of time, Myrrh was often used after birth; myrrh was also often used on the newborn’s umbilical cord to prevent infection.
Myrrh has naturally occurring antimicrobial, antiparasitic and antiviral properties, so it makes sense that this oil would be used in wound healing back in the time of Jesus. In fact, in modern day, we encourage the use of Myrrh oil for these very same benefits!
But the biggest health benefit of Myrrh is that it’s a potent antioxidant! This could also explain why it was used in mummification. Myrrh has Eugenol and Terpenoids, which are chemicals (antioxidants) produced by the plant to preserve it self from oxidative stress.
A substance’s antioxidant affect is measured on what is called the ORAC Scale. Myrrh has an ORAC rating of 379,800. Compared that to say a carrot, which has a rating of 210 and you can see just how powerful Myrrh really is as an antioxidant!
This antioxidant effect is what preserves the plant; hence why it’s such a useful oil for burial. But it also means, it’s a potent antioxidant while alive to help slow down disease and organ damage…even slowing down cellular aging! Could it be that the ancients knew about this affect and gave Jesus Myrrh to symbolize eternal life?
So why gold? Some say that the gold was brought to preserve the oils. One belief is that when the oils were given to Jesus they may have had gold flakes in the containers, which was used in the past to preserve the essential oil.
Or was it not gold at all? Some theorists believe that the Bible could be referencing a golden spice such as Turmeric.
This wouldn’t be a far stretch as during that time, Turmeric was seen to be just as valuable as gold and perhaps more so, as it was often used to anoint the kings of Israel!
If this is true, then Turmeric also has many health benefits. It is an antiallergenic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-parasitic, antiviral and anti-worm compound. It also can help reduce pain in joints and support the liver.
By learning about the different functions of these oils you can see how these gifts were fit for a king! But they were more than just valuable commodities, they were purposeful items used for spiritual and physical health.
So next time you think about giving someone a gift, be like the wise men, look beyond beautiful objects. Give gifts that will enhance the life of your loved ones in mind, body, and spirit.
To learn more about essential oils and ways to use them send me a message at: SProvenski@gmail.com or click on the contact me form above.
January 2nd, 2017 Posted In: Uncategorized