I used to wonder that, too!
Most people hear the phrase “frankincense and myrrh” and think of Matthew’s gospel account of the magi that presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the young child Jesus. Interestingly, those expensive gifts may have come at just the right time, since Jesus’ family—evidently of little means—were soon forced to flee to Egypt. (Matthew 2:1-15)
These gifts were very practical:
Gold: When traveling, having money is a necessity and a protection because you don’t know what kinds of situations will come up.
Frankincense: This resin and the oil that was produced from it was well known for its healing properties. In fact, it was reportedly used for everything from “gout to a broken head”.
Myrrh: a very powerful resin and oil from ancient times. It was used for many skin conditions, such as chapped skin and wrinkles. The burned resin served as an insect repellant and promoted physical and emotional well-being. The resin was also finely ground and made into ointments and added to wine as a preservative.
No doubt, the gold, frankincense and myrrh were provided at exactly the right time.
Here are some more facts on myrrh:
A relative of frankincense, myrrh is a short thorny tree found in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and in the Arabian peninsula. When the bark is cut, it produces a reddish oily resin which hardens into nuggets which are harvested.
It was one of the ingredients in the divinely formulated holy anointing oil used by priests ancient Israel. Myrrh was considered a highly spiritual oil/resin and was a prized commodity throughout the Middle East.
Egyptians carried cones of fat on their heads containing myrrh that would melt in the desert heat and keep their bodies bathed in myrrh and other oils.
Today, many appreciate myrrh for its skin supportive properties and add it to their skin care routine by gently smoothing their wrinkles and dry areas with myrrh before proceeding with their chosen skincare protocol.
Down through history, myrrh has been used by women during their childbearing years. It may help maintain skin elasticity when applied topically. When diffused and inhaled during labor, myrrh’s fragrance may prove to be a calming breath of fresh air.
When combined with other essential oils, myrrh prolongs the scent of the other oils, making it a favorite among perfumers. In fact, it was blended with so many perfumes and ointments in Biblical times that in the Gospels the Greek word for myrrh, “muron,” was sometimes translated as “ointment” without revealing that its content included myrrh.