Saturday, December 13, 2008

Food for Thought: The Gifts of the Three Wise Men


My mom is a teacher in Relief Society, and she is giving her lesson this next week. She sent us all a copy of her handout which is an interesting read, and I thought I'd share. It in some small way helps us comprehend how the Three Wise Men treasured and reverenced their King of Kings.

One personal observation: we traditionally think of the Three Kings or the Three Magi and envision them as great, powerful, and wealthy men---someone wealthy enough to shower such extravagances upon an obscure child born in a rural village of no consequence to the world at large. But, I like to think that since wisdom doesn't come only to those with wealth, perhaps these three travelers who came so far to kneel at the Christ child's feet were simply scholars well-versed in the scriptures and sure in their faith in God's promises. Perhaps they were as obscure as He. When one considers the costliness of their gifts in such a context, along with the perils of the journey they undertook to bestow them, their conviction of the birth of the Savior must have been powerful indeed.

The Gifts of the Three Wise Men
“Some Blessings can be counted by number naming them one by one! But, there is no way a number could measure our thanks for the gift of His wonderful Son.”

The three Wise men brought unique gifts for the new little King of Israel. Frankincense and Myrrh were treasured by Kings and Sovereigns and were more highly esteemed than gold. Two millennia ago, these precious resins were carried by Wise Men from the East traditionally called the Magi Kings who appeared in Jerusalem led by a shining new star in the heavens. The star went before them until it rested over the place where the young Christ Child lay. There the Magi presented the child with the most precious gifts known to the ancient world: Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh.

The miracle of Frankincense and Myrrh: Frankincense originates from a legendary tree native to Southern Arabia-one whose scrubby and unpretentious appearance camouflaged the resinous treasure hidden in its bark. Called the “perfume of the gods” by the ancient Egyptians., both the Frankincense gum and essential oil were coveted by successive generations of Greeks, Romans, and Arabians. More than 3000 tons were exported each year for temple rituals, cosmetics, and to treat every conceivable ill.
“Myrrh: a darker, richer, earthier aromatic, was used to perfume the royal mummeries of Egypt and was one of the ingredients in the sacred anointing oil of the Israelites, as both incense and an oil, myrrh was prized by the ancients as medicine.

Gums and resins of these precious products were produced by: making scrapes, incisions or grooves into the trunk of the frankincense tree and the large branches of the myrrh shrub. In response to the wound, the plants produce a thick, protect-ant gum resin called tears. These droplets are collected by hand and allowed to harden into small golden hued beads. Only a few tons of Frankincense and myrrh are produced each year.

The precious metal Gold was used to decorated the temples in Israel and other countries. This gold may have been used to assist Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus as they were forced to journey to Egypt for the babes safety until the wicked King Herod died.

May you and yours have a joyful Christmas,
as you teach of Him and the blessed gift of Christ’s Love!
Love Sister Tarbet

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