Key Words: presented unto him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh
In an article in the Saturday Evening Post, Donald Culross Peattie explained the significance of the gifts presented to the Christ-child by the Magi.
Ø Gold is one of the noble metals. No single acid can destroy it, nor will it rust away, like iron or tin … No one can successfully imitate or fake gold, so heavy and incorruptible is it. And it is a metal easily turned to the uses of beauty. It has been woven into fabrics at least since Biblical times (Exodus 39:2–3), for its ductility, as chemists say, is so great that a single grain of fine gold can be drawn out into a wire 1/1000 of an inch in diameter, extending for a length of about one mile. Pure, supple, almost indestructible, gold is indeed a royal metal … The expert hammer of the goldbeater, whose ancient art is referred to by Homer, can beat an ounce of gold into a sheet two hundred feet square, a mere shimmering film.… In the ancient world into which Christianity was born, gold was far rarer than now.
made from an expensive and elaborate formula, containing sixteen different
ingredients, with only priests allowed to concoct it. And the chief element in
this holy recipe was frankincense, the second gift of the wise men to the
Child. Frankincense is a resin, from a kind of tree held so sacred of old that
in southern Arabia and Ethiopia, where it grew, only a few particularly pure
persons were allowed even to approach it.… To obtain the precious frankincense
itself, an Arab cuts a slash in the trunk, as a Vermonter cuts a maple, and
then strips off a narrow piece of bark, about five inches long, below the cut.
The sap slowly oozes out and is allowed to harden for about three months. At
last it is collected in lumps, to be shipped from such strange and faraway
places as Berbera and
Myrrh is a
shrub related to frankincense, of the genus Commiphora. The
sap of myrrh is extracted in the same way as that of frankincense, and it comes
in small lumps of reddish-brown resin. But its symbolism is more somber. The
word myrrh comes from the Hebrew mar, meaning “bitter.” The ancient
Egyptians used this resin in embalming, and hence its connection with solemn
✞ Remember that Jesus Christ is our precious gift.
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