Home > Christmas > Why Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

Why Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

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Before I begin to talk about the gifts that the wise men gave Jesus, I think it’s important to first set the stage. I’m going to read from Matthew, Chapter 2. Matt. 2:1-13

So we know that King Herod wants to have Jesus killed and Herod has asked that the wise men let him know where Jesus is so he can “worship” him…we know he just wants to know his location so he can kill him. Of course the wise men are too “wise” for that and never return to King Herod to tell him where Jesus is.

After following the star the wise men find Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. It’s interesting in verse 11 that as soon as the wise men find Mary and Joseph they enter the stable and immediately begin to worship Jesus. As soon as they saw the baby they wanted to worship Him. Why? Because they knew that he was the King of Kings… and the gifts they then gave him was further credit to that. It’s interesting to note that we never find out what the names of the wise men were. Although they were giving Jesus these rare and expensive gifts they had no desire to be known, they just wanted to be sure that he received them. So why did they give these 3 gifts? I mean frankincense and myrrh is not one of those gifts that you would say “Oh, I got frankincense and myrrh for Christmas!…Yes!”

These type of gifts were typical back in those days to give to kings. In 1 Kings when the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon she brought him Gold and spices. Gold, Frankincense were rare, valuable and precious items and many wanted to give their best for their king.

The wise men…recognizing Jesus as King of Kings wanted to give their best as well. Each of the three gifts given had both a symbolic meaning and a practical use.

Let’s start with the easy one first…Gold


  • Gold, as it is today was very valuable. To find gold you have to dig underground and find which was very difficult back in Bible times because you didn’t have the tools you have today.
  • Gold has always been a means of exchange…something that for Mary & Joseph would come in handy as they would soon travel to Egypt and would need food, clothing and shelter.
  • Symbolically Gold represents kingship. The King that Christ is for us. It also represents the purification process we go through in our trials as a Christian.
  • Gold is one of the only metals that when heated with fire will not lose anything of it’s nature, weight, color, or any other property. Genuine faith is the same way. Gold is used in scripture when talking about the strength of someone’s faith. Job refers to gold after he has been through all his trials. Job 23:10 Jobs says, “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure gold.”


  • Frankincense is made by cutting a tree named “Arbor Thurisfrom” found Persia, Arabia and India. It’s like a sap that is gathered and then dried for 3 months and becomes a like a hardened resin or gum.
  • Frankincense is used as a perfume but mostly it was burned as a sweet incense during worship. During the Exodus Aaron would burn Frankincense at the alter as a sweet offering to the Lord.
  • Practically Frankincense would be a familiar smell to baby Jesus as this was the same God that was worshiped in the Old Testament. It would also help it getting the stable smelling better with all those animals in there with them. You could say that Frankincense was kinda of the Yankee Candle of that time.
  • Symbolically Frankincense represented the divinity of Christ because as mentioned Frankincense was burnt as an offering to God.


  • Myrrh, like Frankincense, also is the sap from a tree that is hardened and then used. However, unlike, Frankincense which is sweet…Myrrh has a bitter taste to it.
  • Myrrh was mostly used to embalm the dead because it had the property to preserve. It was also used as a perfume, an ingredient of holy ointments mentioned in Exodus but it’s most practical use for Mary & Joseph would be it’s medical uses. Today Myrrh is used today in toothpaste, mouthwash and make-up.
  • Lastly, Myrrh represents the bitter cup that Christ had to drink in suffering for our sins and the healing for us that his death brings.

This Bible Study was prepared by Jason Forthofer of PlanetHoly.com.

  1. Cynthia
    December 14, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks for writing this, the information you present will touch everyone I give a gift to this year. The gift is all natural frankincense and myrhh incense wrapped with gold rope. Credit will be included and look like: This Bible Study was prepared by Jason Forthofer of PlanetHoly.com.



  2. Cynthia
    December 14, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    I never said anything about moderation…and do not know how the headline got there…but joyous celebration and blessings for you and yours this christmas!

  3. January 21, 2008 at 12:01 am

    I was looking for the meaning of the gift’s given to baby jesus by the wise man. Thank you for filling me in. I will use the information wisely.

    September 20, 2008 at 12:13 am

    I thank God for this eye opener. I had always thought about the reason behind the three gifts to Jesus. God will continue to share more secrets with you.
    Thank you very much.

  5. Ruth
    September 20, 2008 at 6:05 am

    I’m blessing with this information. it confirmed my preach 2 years ago, exactly on Dec’06 about this “gift”

  6. December 4, 2008 at 1:50 pm


    WORDPRESS says that our two blogs (at least our most recent posts) are related, so I came by to check you out–I hope you enjoy my slant on the topic. Please stop by my blog and let me know what you think (and if you like it, maybe add Jesus + Compassion to your blog roll so we can stay connected).

    God bless you!


  7. Steve
    December 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Thanks for this information – I will be giving a short message this Christmas and this will be helpful. A small factual error however – Matthew 2:11, the Magi visited Jesus, Mary and Joseph at a house. This was likely the be a period of months after the birth in the manger (possibly the time it would have taken for the Magi to travel after seeing the star). Therefore, the frankinsense would have been unlikely to have been used for making the manger smell nice since they were no longer living there.

  8. Ronald E. Gravatt
    November 30, 2009 at 2:54 am

    Steve’s reply (16 December 2008) is relevant. While many crèche scenes include the “Wise Men,” it appears that historically they did not arrive at the stable (or inn) when Jesus was a baby, but rather at his “house” when he was a “child.” (The Greek word for “child” in Matthew 2: 8, 20, and 21 is clearly not the same word that appears in Luke 2: 12 and 16). Of course, there is still the issue of the detective work on the part of these fellows: they went to Bethlehem, but must have had to “track” the family to Nazareth!

  9. George
    January 19, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Thank you and remain blessed. This piece is quite informative and as believers we need to have a clear background knowledge of the scriptures.

  10. September 13, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Arbor Thurisfrom is incorrect for the name of the tree that Frankincense is from. Frankincense, also called olibanum (Arabic: لبٌان, lubbān), is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra (syn. B. carteri, B. thurifera), B. frereana, and B. bhaw-dajiana (Burseraceae). It is used in incense and perfumes. This was taken from Wikipedia I know…but check the facts…

  11. Ockie Mulder
    December 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    After following the star the wise men find Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. It’s interesting in verse 11 that as soon as the wise men find Mary and Joseph they enter the stable and immediately begin to worship Jesus.

    Thank you for the information however I differ from yours slightly

    Vers 11 reflects a HOUSE and not a stable

    Myrrh is the dried oleo gum resin of a number of Commiphora species of trees. Like frankincense, it is produced by the tree as a reaction to a purposeful wound through the bark and into the sapwood. The trees are bled in this way on a regular basis. The principal species is Commiphora myrrha,

    Frankincense is tapped from the very scraggly but hardy Boswellia tree by slashing the bark and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. There are numerous species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin. Differences in soil and climate create even more diversity of the resin, even within the same species.

    Kind regards


  12. dont worry
    January 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Thank you very much i am doing a R.E essay and this wiil really help. THANK YOU

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