Bringing the Text to Life
Two thousand years ago, gold, frankincense and myrrh were worth (in today's equivalents), six hundred, five hundred and four thousand dollars per pound, respectively. A similar gift today (frankincense and myrrh have declined in value, gold has increased) would set a 20th century king back six thousand dollars for the gold, but only fifteen dollars apiece for frankincense and myrrh.
The Magi celebrated the Christ child with the most valuable items in the ancient world. But these gifts were not just of monetary value. They were also gifts of health and long life. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were among the earliest and most prized curative medicines in the ancient world.
Frankincense and myrrh are both resins that come from wounds in the bark of trees that grow only in northeast Africa and southern Arabia. In the first century, the frankincense resin was considered divine and could only be gathered by special families who would refrain from "impure acts" (i.e., sex) during harvest...