Legend has it that Three Wise Men followed the Star Of Bethlehem which led them to Baby Jesus shortly after his birth. These three wise men were also known as the Magi and were astrologers who came riding a camel from the East. They bought hundreds of gifts for Jesus but of them three gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh are considered most significant and symbolic. The journey of the three wise men is celebrated as Epiphany of January 6th every year, the twelfth day of Christmas.
According to the Gospels when the three wise men finally met Baby Jesus, they immediately fell on their feet and praised the infant. They gave Jesus all the gifts they bought for him as they lay prostate in front of him. In Matthew, three gifts are said to be gold, frankincense and myrrh. In fact many people think that these three were the only gifts that were given by the Magi to Infant Jesus. Biblical enthusiasts have argued that the gold was in medicinal form. There is a common misinterpretation that the magi were king and that kings gave these gifts to Jesus. However, fact is that the Magi were in fact astrologers.
There are endless theories about the meanings and significance of the gifts that the Magi gave to Jesus. The common view is that gold seems a pretty good gift and it is rather simple to explain its significance, however myrrh and frankincense are rather abstract. The most popular theory is that all three gifts were worthy of a king, gold was given because it was valuable and so was Jesus, myrrh was used to anoint kings and frankincense was the perfume of choice of the royals. Thus all the gifts were for royalty.
Another theory suggests that the gifts were much more symbolic than we understand, that they were almost prophetic in a way, gold prophesized kingship as in Jesus being the ruler of the world, frankincense was a popular indication of divine authority, and myrrh prophesized death. Others still say the gold was given to indicate Jesus’ virtue, frankincense signified prayer and myrrh was a popular symbol of suffering, the way Jesus did on the cross.
It has often been said that for a poor carpenter’s family such gifts were rather dandy and useless. This point has often been the butt of many a joke and is endlessly satired in popular culture. Thomas Woolston even went so far as to say that it would have been supremely wise of the three wise men if they had bought sugar, soap and candles. One does not know what came of these gifts for this is the only time they are mentioned in any of the gospels.
Many tales and legends have sprung up around the gifts. One-theory states that two thieves stole the gold and they were later crucifies along with Jesus. Another says that the gifts were given in care of Judas who later misused them. Yet another and rather believable version says that the family sold these fancy gifts and used the money to flee to Egypt to escape the evil Herod.