Symbolism in the gifts of the magi (Matt 2:11)

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BenAvraham

Senior Member
Aug 30, 2015
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#1
SYMBOLISM IN THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI.

…when they had come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

We all know the story of the wise men, or magi as some call them, who visited Yeshua at Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem). They followed a certain star which they saw from the east. Some believe they came from Persia. For some reason, many believe there were “three”, but nowhere in scripture is the number “three” mentioned when referring to the visit of the “wise men.” Perhaps, just perhaps there might have been “3” who were leaders, who led a large caravan of other men to bring gifts to our Messiah, but that is just an idea.

Scripture says…when they had come into the house…Mary and Joseph were no longer in the stable since after the birth of Yeshua, they sought to either “rent a house close by” or “perhaps a room in the inn was finally found.” I guess the inn itself could be considered a house. We must remember it was during the time of Sukkot, or the “Feast of tabernacles” in October that Messiah Yeshua was born. Since it is one of the pilgrimage feasts, all cities, and towns near Yerushalayim were pretty well full of travelers, that is why there was no room found in the inn.

We see that the gifts presented were; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. How do these gifts reflect who Messiah Yeshua is?

Gold: Gold is for kings. It is a very precious and costly metal. It is soft and can be worked easily. Gold (when not found in ore state) is pure. The New Jerusalem has streets made of pure gold, the Ark of the Covenant is made of hardwood overlaid with pure gold, inside and out. Yeshua “bent his will” to the will of the Father. Yeshua is pure, and sinless, inside and out. The gold can symbolize Yeshua as “KING of kings, and LORD of lords” the “Pure and sinless God become man, who tabernacled among humanity during the chosen time set by Adonai, The Feast of Tabernacles.

Frankincense: Frankincense was one of the spices used in incense and was offered up to God by the priests in the tabernacle and later, in the temple. Incense can symbolize our prayers that go “up” to God when offered with a pure heart. Frankincense can symbolize Yeshua as our High Priest, who intercedes for us before our Heavenly Father.

Myrrh: Myrrh was one of the spices used to embalm bodies after death. Since embalming fluid hadn’t been invented yet, myrrh was used to cut down on the stink that would come from a corpse after death. The spices were put on the body and wrapped in burial cloth. Myrrh can symbolize our Messiah in death, and in his burial. Yet we know that He did not remain dead, because he rose from the dead. In conquering death His thus gave us life, to all who believe and trust in Him, who took all of our sins and nailed them to the cross.

Mary and Joseph probably used the gold to finance their trip south to Egypt until they were called back to Nazareth years later when Adonai “Called His Son up from Egypt.” Joseph might have set up a craft shop in Egypt to work either in wood or stone since an “artisan” could be a person who worked either with wood or in cutting stone. In doing so, Adonai, through the Magi, provided the family of Joseph, Mary, and Yeshua with funds for living expenses.

God provides for ALL of our needs: Philippians 4:13.



Shalom Ben Avraham
 

Webers.Home

Well-known member
May 28, 2018
2,058
310
83
Oregon
#2
.
Matt 2:11 . . .They entered the house where the child and his mother,
Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they
opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and
myrrh.

With enough imagination, just about anything can be forced to be symbolic.
Personally, I tend to be a bit more practical.

In those days gold was real money, and frankincense and myrrh were
valuable commodities. I suggest that the men simply offered the ordinary
kinds of tributes that royalty was accustomed to receiving in those days
from visiting dignitaries; in other words: what the men did was just normal
protocol because it was their understanding that Jesus was a king. (Matt
2:2)

The tributes were providential too because very soon Joseph would be
needing something of value to finance his family's temporary residence in
Egypt.
_
 

Lafftur

Senior Member
Apr 18, 2017
5,526
2,866
113
#3
Hmmm......of course there is no end to all the layers of truth in God’s Word........I’m seeing the three gifts -gold, frankincense and myrrh as symbolic of the temple....and Jesus is God.........the magi brought “the temple” to the God and King that is to be praised, worshipped and honored......

Gold is found in the Holy of Holies;

Frankincense is found in the Holy Place; and

Myrrh is (probably) in the Outer Court where the sacrifices were made.....:unsure:
 
Jun 11, 2020
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#4
When we read the Bible, we must attempt to find the literal meaning fists. The reason for this is that God is transmitting ideas and if we keep looking for another meaning, we'll thwart Him. But that infinite Mind of God can build layers of revelation, which He does, not for building doctrine, but for pictures of His glory. But we must not build these pictures with our own minds. We must let the very Word of God do it for us (2nd Pet.1:20).

The first and literal meaning is just what is said. Expensive gifts to a king predicted by one of their prophets - Baalam. The heathen like to document things, and no doubt Baalam's remarkable experience all those years ago was in the annals of Moab. It was just these annals that save Judah at Esther's time. But Ben Avraham is on the right track. The Magi, stargazers of the Eastern religion, unwittingly brought gifts that scripture alludes to.

Gold has two meanings in scripture
  1. The Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and Temple was either gold plated or solid gold. The place of God's dwelling must reflect His nature, so God is the picture for the nature of God.
  2. But then an objection will arise that Nebuchadnezzar is depicted as a head of gold in Daniel Chapter 2. But on closer study, we find that the elements used to depict the kings and their kingdoms showed something else - their form of government. Gold is Nebuchadnezzars type of government - All-powerful sovereignty. Silver shows the degrading process of government where the nobles advise the king, brass shows military rule for weapons of those days were made of brass, and this was Alexanders method of government. And iron and clay show the weak form of a policed democracy. So the gift of gold to our Lord Jesus shows His future government - Theocratic, sovereign Monarchy.
Frankincense has two meanings
  1. Frankincense is first mentioned in Exodus 30 as Israel are instructed to make the anointing oil for the house of God. It was not for men, but to transmit sanctification to the Tabernacle. Christ is the New Tabernacle "made without hands". He is the consummation of God's plan to dwell IN man - not WITH man. The gospel of John dedicates itself to this profound theme - Christ IN you, the hope of glory.
  2. Frankincense is again mentioned in the Meal Offering. A Book can be written on the Offerings (as many have), but briefly, the Meal Offering is a mysterious Offering as no blood is shed. It depicts Christ's humanity for He is the grain of Wheat in John 12:24. And this humanity is used in the Offerings to satisfy God because the ret of men, even the best of us, have such a corrupted and fallen humanity. It is Jesus, who must be "ground" and put in the "fire", who rises up a sweat savor to God. And this sweat savor to God is shown in the Frankincense.
Myrrh has two meanings
  1. Myrrh as a name comes from the root word meaning BITTER. It is an antiseptic and stimulating fruit, astringent to the taste. It was used for embalming the dead. It is the root word for Mary, the suffering mother of Jesus and for Marah, where Israel, thirsting from three days journey in the heat of Sinai, found bitter water (Ex.15). It depicts the bitter sufferings of the King Who the Magi came to worship.
  2. Myrrh was and ingredient in Exodus 30 for anointing the Priests of God. Unknown to the heathen Magi, God was raising a superior Priest to Aaron, One according to the order, not of Levi, but of Melchisedec. Not strangely, His anointing was by the Gentiles, not Israelites, who still cling to Levi.
What worthy symbolism for this worthy God-Man Jesus, House of the Living God, Man-Savior by bitter sufferings, who is God-Priest, a Priest who has no beginning nor end, upon Whom will the anointing be to bear government of the earth one day - a government of single, sovereign, theocratic Monarchy.
 

ewq1938

Active member
Oct 18, 2018
844
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#5
Myrrh has two meanings
  1. Myrrh as a name comes from the root word meaning BITTER.

Where did you get this? I checked and Myrrh does not have a root word that means bitter in Hebrew or Greek. It was known as a sweet smelling thing anyways:

Son_5:5 I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

It was also associated with spices:

Son_5:1 I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
 
Jun 11, 2020
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#6

Where did you get this? I checked and Myrrh does not have a root word that means bitter in Hebrew or Greek. It was known as a sweet smelling thing anyways:

Son_5:5 I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

It was also associated with spices:

Son_5:1 I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
Wikipedia
Etymology
The word myrrh corresponds with a common Semitic root m-r-r meaning "bitter", as in Aramaic ܡܪܝܪܐ murr and Arabic مُرّ murr. Its name entered the English language from the Hebrew Bible, where it is called מור mor, and later as a Semitic loanword[7] was used in the Greek myth of Myrrha, and later in the Septuagint; in the Ancient Greek language, the related word μῠ́ρον (múron) became a general term for perfume.

Britannica
Myrrh, (from Arabic murr, “bitter”), bitter-tasting, agreeably aromatic, yellow to reddish brown oleoresinous gum obtained from various small, thorny, flowering trees of the genus Commiphora, of the incense-tree family (Burseraceae).

Scentcillo
Bittersweet aromatic from Africa - Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) essential oil
Myrrh is a natural exudate or gum resin collected from Commiphora trees that inhabit the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
 

ewq1938

Active member
Oct 18, 2018
844
212
43
#7
Wikipedia
Etymology
The word myrrh corresponds with a common Semitic root m-r-r meaning "bitter", as in Aramaic ܡܪܝܪܐ murr and Arabic مُرّ murr. Its name entered the English language from the Hebrew Bible, where it is called מור mor, and later as a Semitic loanword[7] was used in the Greek myth of Myrrha, and later in the Septuagint; in the Ancient Greek language, the related word μῠ́ρον (múron) became a general term for perfume.

Britannica
Myrrh, (from Arabic murr, “bitter”), bitter-tasting, agreeably aromatic, yellow to reddish brown oleoresinous gum obtained from various small, thorny, flowering trees of the genus Commiphora, of the incense-tree family (Burseraceae).

Scentcillo
Bittersweet aromatic from Africa - Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) essential oil
Myrrh is a natural exudate or gum resin collected from Commiphora trees that inhabit the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula.

There is nothing about it being bitter in bible, quite the opposite plus neither it nor it's root words in Hebrew and Greek mean to be bitter. Arabic is a completely different language and not in the bible so possibly something entirely different.
 
Mar 23, 2016
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#8
There is nothing about it being bitter in bible, quite the opposite plus neither it nor it's root words in Hebrew and Greek mean to be bitter. Arabic is a completely different language and not in the bible so possibly something entirely different.
From Brown-Drive-Briggs:
מֹר, מוֺר noun masculine Song of Solomon 5:5 myrrh (from bitter taste; Assyrian murru MeissnSuppl. 60; Arabic
; compare LagBN 40); — absolute מֹר Psalm 45:9 5t., מוֺר Songs 4:6 3t. Cant; construct מָרֿ Exodus 30:23; suffix מוֺרִי Songs 5:1; — myrrh (late), an Arabian gum, exuding from the bark of a tree, Balsamodendron Myrrha (see SigismundAromata 12 f. RiHWB under the word): — as flowing, i.e. fine, choice (carefully prepared by pressing and mixing, compare DiExodus 30:23 RiHWB): מָרדְּֿרוֺר Exodus 30:23 (see I. דְּרוֺר), ingredient of sacred oil; מוֺר עֹבֵר Songs 5:5,13 (as perfume); compare (as perfume) Songs 1:13; Songs 4:14; Songs 5:1,5; הַרהַֿמּוֺר Songs 4:6, i.e. where it is gathered; as perfume also Psalm 45:9; Proverbs 7:17, as incense מְקֻטֶּרֶת מֹר וּלְבֹנָה Songs 3:6; שֶׁמֶן הַמּוֺר as unguent Esther 2:12.


From Thayer's Greek Lexicon:

STRONGS NT 4666: σμύρνα
σμύρνα, σμύρνης, ἡ, Hebrew מֹר, מור, myrrh, a bitter gum and costly perfume which exudes from a certain tree or shrub in Arabia and Ethiopia, or is obtained by incisions made in the bark: Matthew 2:11; as an antiseptic it was used in embalming, John 19:39. Cf. Herodotus 2, 40, 86; 3, 107; Theophrastus, hist. pl. 9, 3f; Diodorus 5, 41; Pliny, h. n. 12, 33f; (BB. DD.; Birdwood in the 'Bible Educator', vol. ii., p. 151; Löw, Aram. Pflanzennam. § 185).


 
Jun 11, 2020
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#9
There is nothing about it being bitter in bible, quite the opposite plus neither it nor it's root words in Hebrew and Greek mean to be bitter. Arabic is a completely different language and not in the bible so possibly something entirely different.
I get the same as our esteemed brother/sister in posting # 8 - in Strong's Hebrew and Greek, PLUS in Vine's expository dictionary. Vine confirms Wiki (or vice versa) by saying that it is a "loanword" from a "Semitic language". Maybe our discussion is solved by the difference between taste and smell. That it is fragrant and expensive is not disputed. That is TASTES bitter is maybe where I was not precise and you did not consider it.

What shall I say? I have results of research, and now I have to decide between you and Strong, Vine, Thayer and general secular writings. Added to this, your argument from Song of Solomon concern the FRAGRANCE, while the USE of myrrh was, in the New Testament, a bitter drink and for a dead body. You have yet to explain its significance based on scripture, and so I find myself constrained to remain with the symbolism of BITTER.