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The Regal Gifts of the Magi - Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Updated on December 13, 2011
Herod and the Magi, or 3 Wise Men
Herod and the Magi, or 3 Wise Men | Source
Frankincense | Source
Myrrh | Source

The Gifts of the Magi, and their story.

As the story goes, the three magi that traveled from afar, brought rather regal gifts for baby Jesus. From the gospel of Matthew's account, we know a few things about these wise men, or Magi.

These wise men were traveling to Jerusalem, during the days of Herod the king. It seemed normal to them to contact the King to inquire more about the King of the Jews that had been born. King Herod found it very interesting and inquired about the star that led them there. The wise men said they had seen the star, and they came to worship him, the one born King of the Jews.

We know Herod encouraged the magi to return to him, after having found this baby (now a toddler more likely), so that he might go and worship this new king also. They said they would, but were warned by an angel not to. So that never came to be.

It says the star went before them until they came to the place where it was over the young child. They rejoiced with exceeding joy, and when they went to the house they saw the child with his mother.

It says they then fell down and worshiped him and then opened their treasures. They presented these as gifts to the young Jesus. The treasures were gold, frankincense and myrrh. (See Matthew Chapter 2, verses 1-11.)

The Regal Gifts of the Magi - Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

What kind of gifts are suitable for such a king? The wise men thought that gold frankincense and myrrh were good ideas. Many have shared that they have deeper meaning than what you may initially think. These are not necessarily suitable gifts for a baby, even a baby king. There is obviously great worth in them.

Gold - Gold is obviously a very costly and precious metal. Some church/biblical scholars have said the deeper meaning may be the love of Christ as King of the whole world. On a more practical level, some have said that the gold would have been an immediate monetary help for what may have been the impoverished parents of Jesus. (Soon to be on the run, hiding from Herod.) Mary and Joseph had already been through so much together and much more was in store.

Frankincense - an aromatic resin from the bark of African trees. It is valued for its incense, a very sweet spice. Some have said it to be like a prayer of Christ as King of the heavens. On a practical level, it would be a wonderful scent, and we are unaware of how long they were in a stable setting where animals at the very least, used to live.

Myrrh - Also an aromatic resin from the bark of African trees. Myrrh is from a thorny type of tree. It could symbolize the future sufferings of Jesus as a sacrifice. On a pragmatic level, the myrrh could deter any vermin, one person said, if they were still in a "stable" setting. You can get myrrh in an essential oil form also. I imagine this is what they used for the embalming when they used it.

We see in artistic renderings, these gifts being presented in very beautiful containers. We sometimes see what looks like a small casket shaped container for the gold, a vessel for the frankincense, and an urn containing the myrrh.

The sweet fragrances included, have often been thought to be looking forward towards when they would embalm Jesus after his death. They did wrap his body, and they often used spices and different things in this process. While they wouldn't have used these exact ones, it is often symbolic to people of what was to come.

The 3 Gifts Turn Into Folklore, Yet Never Lose Their Meaning.

Over time, we see a development where the three gifts given to Jesus translated over into giving three gifts to children on Three Kings Day. In many areas, this duty fell to Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas or even some other "person."

The three Kings from the East and their gifts from long ago still are spoken of today and celebrated. In Spain and America and many other places, we still see the original gifts of love and devotion practiced. Its become a universal thing, and I am so thankful that it has. Families world over at the very least, enjoy a time together, celebrating in different ways.

© 2011 Paula


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    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      Merry Christmas to you!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi James, thank you for your comment. I agree with you wholeheartedly, and love the part on how God always has great foresight.... Looking ahead to see and deal with what others couldn't foresee, or have known. It never surprises me on the one hand, but is still neat to see those little "gems" here and there in history.

      So glad you stopped by and left a comment, and Merry Christmas!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this beautiful Hub. I enjoyed reading it thoroughly. I read once that Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh were the three most valuable commodities that were small enough to be sown into ones garments, and thus deter robbers who if you had much luggage might think you had valuables worth robbing. The road from the Holy Land to Egypt was known to be notorious for robbers and Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus were defenseless. Thus, God had great foresight, as always.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Beata, thank you so much! So glad you stopped by. :)

      Hi Mary! Thank you very much, and so glad you liked it. You are one of my favorites also! Thanks for the votes up also, too kind. :)

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      As always, you did a great job with this Hub. I'm sure it required a lot to time and research, but it was very informative. You are one of my favorites, you know that! Regards, Mary

      BTW: voted it UP, etc.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      6 years ago from Western Australia

      What a great hub...thank you for sharing...very relevant for the festive season that is upon us very soon:)

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you very much, Alocsin. :) I appreciate your comment and visit here.

    • alocsin profile image


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Great explanation about the three gifts and why they were valuable. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Chaplin Speaks, thank you! I appreciate that very much. :)

      Kviwhite, Thanks so much. :) Glad you stopped by and left a comment. Thanks also for the vote as well.

    • kviwhite profile image


      6 years ago

      Cute hub! One vote for you.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 

      6 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Very interesting hub. I have thought about the gifts, too, especially when I hear "We Three Kings." Thanks! Voted UP.


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