Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

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Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh
MATTHEW CHAPTER 2 COMMENTARY

Matthew 2:11 Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

MATTHEW 2:11  11 And when they entered the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasure chests, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

What gifts did the wise men present to Jesus?
“Gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11)

Gold is a precious metal, but what are frankincense and myrrh?
Frankincense is the dried sap of the Boswellian trees that grow in the region around the Gulf of Aden, which is the body of water between the Horn of Africa (Somalia) and the Middle East (Yemen and Oman). Frankincense has a lemon-like scent and can be used to make perfume or burned as incense. Myrrh is the sap of the Commiphora trees that are also native to the region around the Gulf of Aden. Myrrh can be used to make perfume, turned into oil, or used as medicine. The frankincense presented to Jesus would have been the incense, and the myrrh would have been in the form of oil.

Why did they bring gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts to Jesus?
There are at least three reasons. First, gold, frankincense (incense) and myrrh (oil) were the standard gifts back then for honoring a king, whom they had come to worship: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2). Second and most probably unknown to the wise men, gold symbolized Jesus being the King of the Jews, frankincense symbolized His divinity (see before Abraham was, I AM), and myrrh symbolized the anointing His body would receive after He had sacrificed Himself on the cross for our sins (see crucify Him). Third, gold, frankincense and myrrh were costly items that will finance Joseph, Mary and Jesus’ escape to Egypt (see below).

Did the wise men meet Jesus just after His birth?
When Jesus was born, He was in a manger outdoors because there was no room for them in the “guest room” (see Joseph and Mary), and both Joseph and Mary were with Him. When the wise men met Jesus, it was in a “house.” (Matthew 2:11)

How long after Jesus’ birth did the wise men visit Him?
Based on what King Herod did to the boys in Bethlehem (see slaughter of the innocents), the wise men most likely visited Jesus when He was 1 or 2 years old, which means that Joseph, Mary and Jesus had taken up residence in Bethlehem. This is supported by the fact that when they returned to Israel from Egypt, they initially intended to live again in Judea, where Bethlehem is located (see Archelaus).

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