Frankincense and Myrrh were fragrant resins and oils mentioned in the Bible several times.

At this time of the year we remember that Jesus was presented with these 2 very expensive gifts together with gold when he was a child.

We read this in Matthew 2: 11 “Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Let’s explore more on this topic – its origins, uses and spiritual significance.

FRANKINCENSE

frankincense_resin

Frankincense was lavishly used in religious rites. In the Book of Exodus, it is recorded that it was an ingredient for incense (Ex 30:34) and that it was used with the showbread Lev 24: 7 and with meat offerings Lev 2: 1-2, 15-16, Lev 6: 15. And of course was used as incense Is 43: 23, 60: 6, 66: 3, Jer 6:20

Frankincense, is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, and has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula and in North Africa for more than 5000 years. The Frankincense is tapped from the tree by slashing the bark with an axe a week before the harvest begins and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out, crystallize and harden. Tapping is done 2 to 3 times a year. It takes about a week for the resin to harden up enough to be cut it off.

Frankincense-resin

The trees start producing resin when they are about 8 to 10 years old. Generally speaking, the more opaque resins are the best quality. Each type of resin is available in various grades which depend on the time of harvesting. The resin is hand sorted for quality, colour, purity, aroma, and age. The highest quality Frankincense essential oil is distilled from the resin, not the bark or the branches. Only then can the crystal resin go into the distillery where it is crushed into powder, put into an oil bath, and steam distilled to extract the oil from the crystal resin.

Frankincense is used in perfumery, incense and aromatherapy.

Frankincense was placed on the Inner Altar of the tabernacle and burned continuously. The Hebrew word for Frankincense is lebonah, which means incense or free burning. It speaks of intercession.

Ps 141:2 “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

The aroma of Frankincense cannot be fully released until it is subjected to fire. Prophetically this represents the consuming fire of God.

MYRRH

myrrh-resin 

Myrrh was a primary ingredient in the holy anointing oil that God commanded Moses to make in Ex 30: 23-33 and in Psalm 45, it mentions myrrh as a kingly anointing oil, as part of a possible reference to the future Messiah:  “Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. Psalm 45:7-8

According to Mark, it was offered to Jesus as an intoxicant during the crucifixion: “And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he did not take it.” Mark 15:22-23

John says it was used to prepare Jesus' body for burial: “Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” John 19:39-40

myrrh

 

Myrrh is a reddish-brown valuable resin produced by the Commiphorra Myrrha tree, which is native to Yemen, Somalia, and the eastern parts of Ethiopia. Myrrh like all tree resin is actually hardened sap. The sap is secreted when its bark has been removed or penetrated. The sap protects the tree from invasion by fungus and insects. The sap leaks out of the damaged spots on the tree and hardens into oblong shapes generally referred to as tears.

Myrrh has been traditionally used by many cultures as a perfume, incense, medication, or embalming ointment, personal adornment and religious rituals. In addition to its pleasant scent, it also has antimicrobial and antiseptic.

Myrrh resin can be qualitatively evaluated by its darkness and clarity, and especially the fragrance and stickiness of freshly broken pieces

One of the gifts presented to Jesus at His birth was Myrrh Matt 2:11, which prophetically pointed to His death. The Hebrew word for Myrrh means bitter, trickle, to be sorely grieved.

Just as Jesus died for us and our sins, we are to die to self and grieve for our sins. We are to purify our hearts in preparation for the meeting with our bridegroom JESUS.