Symbolism in the gifts of the magi

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Jacob Ben Avraham
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Symbolism in the gifts of the magi

Post by Jacob Ben Avraham » Tue Dec 22, 2020 10:18 pm


“…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 Rabbi ben Avraham

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