MembersWhy Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh on Christmas?

What might seem like impractical gifts for a family with a new baby were in fact just what Joseph and Mary needed

By David Lazarus | | Topics: Christmas
Photo: Public domain

When the Prophet Isaiah, 800 years before Christ, describes Jerusalem’s glorious restoration, he says that the Gentiles and kings will come and “bring gold and frankincense and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6). 

Since the early days of Christianity, biblical scholars have offered a variety of spiritual reasons for why the three wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11). I cannot help but wonder, however, that if these Magi were truly “wise men,” why wouldn’t they bring practical, not just ceremonial, gifts to help the young Jewish family with their newborn child?

They did.

We all know that gold is an extremely valuable precious metal that would have been greatly appreciated by Mary and Joseph, who were just beginning the long process of raising their new baby. Jesus was born in a hay-filled manger, and surely the gold piece would help the family find safer and more comfortable accommodations. A gift of money at the birth of a firstborn boy is a typical Jewish custom...

Israel Today Membership

Become a Member

  • Read all member content

    Get exclusive in-depth reports from Israel.

  • Get exclusive in-depth reports from Israel

    Connect with Israel, right from your home.

  • Lift up the voice of truth and hope

    Support Jerusalem-based Zionist journalism.

Already a member? .