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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Frankincense And Myrrh


Matthew 2:1-13a (Easy To Read Version - ERV) Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea during the time when Herod was king. After Jesus was born, some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem. (2) They asked people, "Where is the child who has been born to be the king of the Jews? We saw the star that shows he was born. We saw it rise in the sky in the east and have come to worship him." (3) When King Herod heard about this, it upset him as well as everyone else in Jerusalem. (4) Herod called a meeting of all the leading Jewish priests and teachers of the law. He asked them where the Messiah would be born. (5) They answered, "In the town of Bethlehem in Judea, just as the prophet wrote: (6) 'Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are important among the rulers of Judah. Yes, a ruler will come from you, and that ruler will lead Israel, my people.'" (7) Then Herod had a private meeting with the wise men from the east. He learned from them the exact time they first saw the star. (8) Then he sent them to Bethlehem. He said, "Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, come tell me. Then I can go worship him too." (9) After the wise men heard the king, they left. They saw the same star they had seen in the east, and they followed it. The star went before them until it stopped above the place where the child was. (10) They were very happy and excited to see the star. (11) The wise men came to the house where the child was with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened the boxes of gifts they had brought for him. They gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (12) But God warned the wise men in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they went home to their own country a different way. (13) After the wise men left, ...

During the Christmas season, I like to try and focus on one particular part of the story of Jesus' birth. We've heard the story so many times that we tend to lose focus so I thought if I could take one little part of the verses, that talk of Jesus' birth, and study it, it would bring out nuances that I hadn't seen before. Today I want to study the gifts of frankincense and myrrh that the Wise Men gave Jesus when they visited Him after His birth.

Frankincense

Here are some things I found on Wikipedia:
Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae, particularly Boswellia sacra (syn: B. bhaw-dajiana), B. carterii33, B. frereana, B. serrata (B. thurifera, Indian frankincense), and B. papyrifera. There are four main species of Boswellia that produce true frankincense. Resin from each of the four is available in various grades. The grades depend on the time of harvesting; the resin is hand-sorted for quality.

Frankincense has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula, in North Africa, and Somalia for more than 5000 years.



Frankincense is tapped from the scraggy but hardy trees by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resin to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears.



There are several species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin. Differences in soil and climate create even more diversity of the resin, even within the same species.



Boswellia sacra trees are considered unusual for their ability to grow in environments so unforgiving that they sometimes grow out of solid rock. The initial means of attachment to the rock is unknown, but is accomplished by a bulbous disk-like swelling of the trunk. This growth prevents it from being ripped from the rock during violent storms. This feature is slight or absent in trees grown in rocky soil or gravel. The trees start producing resin when they are about eight to 10 years old. Tapping is done two to three times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their higher aromatic terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. Generally speaking, the more opaque resins are the best quality. Fine resin is produced in Somalia, from which the Roman Catholic Church purchases most of its stock.



Recent studies have indicated that frankincense tree populations are declining, partly due to over-exploitation.

Frankincense was one of the consecrated incenses (HaKetoret) described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud used in Ketoret ceremonies. The frankincense of the Jews, as well as of the Greeks and Romans, is also called Olibanum (from the Hebrew חלבנה). Old Testament references report it in trade from Sheba (Isaiah 60:6 ; Jeremiah 6:20). Frankincense is mentioned in the Song of Solomon (Song of Solomon 4:14).

It was offered on a specialized incense altar in the time when the Tabernacle was located in the First and Second Jerusalem Temples. The ketoret was an important component of the Temple service in Jerusalem. It is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible book of Exodus 30:34, where it is named levonah (lebonah in the Biblical Hebrew), meaning "white" in Hebrew. It was one of the ingredients in the perfume of the sanctuary (Exodus 30:34), and was used as an accompaniment of the meal-offering (Leviticus 2:1, 2:16, 6:15, 24:7). When burnt it emitted a fragrant odour, and the incense was a symbol of the Divine name (Malachi 1:11 ; Song of Solomon 1:3) and an emblem of prayer (Psalm 141:2 ; Luke 1:10 ; Revelation 5:8, 8:3). A specially "pure" kind, lebhonah zakkah, was presented with the showbread (Leviticus 24:7).

Frankincense was reintroduced to Europe by Frankish Crusaders, although its name refers to its quality, not to the Franks themselves. Although it is better known as "frankincense" to westerners, the resin is also known as olibanum, in Arabic al-lubān (roughly translated: "that which results from milking"), a reference to the milky sap tapped from the Boswellia tree.

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You can buy small charcoal disks. You light them and place the frankincense on the hot coal. It will begin to smoke producing a clean smelling, slightly astringent fragrance.



If you read the information above you learned that Frankincense is a resin produced by "striping". You take a sharp instrument and you wound the tree. The tree then sends healing properties to the wound via resin. This resin oozes out of the wound in "tears" and the tears are picked by harvesters. This is what you can burn and it produces the scented smoke.

Let's look at how Frankincense is a type of Jesus Christ, a foreshadowing. Jesus was beaten and whipped before He was crucified.

Matthew 27:26 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) Pilate set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross.

The Frankincense tree is "striped" with a sharp instrument to wound the tree. Jesus was beaten with a whip, He was given stripes with a Roman scourge. This short whip had multiple leather strips braided with sharp pieces. One of the Roman punishments was to be scourged and you were sentenced to so many stripes. This brutal punishment could end in death.


Jesus brutal beating was prophesied in Isaiah.
Isaiah 53:3-5 He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as it were a hiding of faces from Him, He being despised, and we esteemed Him not. (4) Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed.

Once the Frankincense tree is wounded with the sharp instrument, the tree sends healing properties to the wound in the resin. According to the prophecy above, Jesus' stripes resulted in healing. We were healed of the terminal illness of SIN. Our relationship with God had been severed when sin came into the world and Jesus healed that relationship. He reconciled us with God by paying for our sins. He also brought physical healing to many sick, diseased and crippled people when He walked with the disciples on this earth. And many have received physical healing after asking God for healing. All of God's children will receive total physical healing after death. We have been given eternal life and the Bible says that our old bodies will be resurrected as new indestructible, immortal bodies free from every corruption or pain or disease!

1 Corinthians 15:50-57 (CEV) My friends, I want you to know that our bodies of flesh and blood will decay. This means that they cannot share in God's kingdom, which lasts forever. (51) I will explain a mystery to you. Not every one of us will die, but we will all be changed. (52) It will happen suddenly, quicker than the blink of an eye. At the sound of the last trumpet the dead will be raised. We will all be changed, so that we will never die again. (53) Our dead and decaying bodies will be changed into bodies that won't die or decay. (54) The bodies we now have are weak and can die. But they will be changed into bodies that are eternal. Then the Scriptures will come true, "Death has lost the battle! (55) Where is its victory? Where is its sting?" (56) Sin is what gives death its sting, and the Law is the power behind sin. (57) But thank God for letting our Lord Jesus Christ give us the victory!

Once the resin goes to the wounded area of the tree, the tree weeps tears of resin. Jesus wept on more than one occasion, I'm sure. In fact, the shortest verse in the Bible is composed of two words, "Jesus wept" (John 11:35) . But there is one occasion that stands out to me as a time when He most probably wept and that was in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus struggled with what might have been an anxiety or panic attack and yet He mastered Himself and determined to do God's Will even knowing how awful the next hours would be.

Luke 22:39-46 (Modern King James Version - MKJV) And going out, according to His custom, He went to the Mount of Olives. And His disciples also followed Him. (40) And when He was at the place, He said to them, Pray that you do not enter into temptation. (41) And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw. And He kneeled down and prayed, (42) saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done. (43) And an angel appeared to Him from Heaven, strengthening Him. (44) And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (45) And when He rose up from prayer and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping because of sorrow. (46) And He said to them, Why do you sleep? Rise and pray lest you enter into temptation.

He submitted to the will of the Father even unto death in order to save us!

Did you know that when Jesus was crucified, someone came to offer him a mixture of vinegar water on a sponge tied to a stick. This was prophesied in:
Psalms 69:20-21 Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; and I looked for some to mourn with me, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. (21) They also gave Me gall for my food; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.

Here is the prophesy fulfilled:
Matthew 27:34 they gave Him vinegar mixed with gall to drink. And when He had tasted, He would not drink.

Matthew 27:48 And immediately one of them ran and took a sponge and filled it with vinegar, and he put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink. (In Mark 15:36 and John 19:29 it tells us this, as well as.)

I read recently where there were some pious women who would come to minister what they could to those who were crucified. They made a mild drug with the vinegar and gall to offer the condemned on a soaked sponge on a stick that could be lifted to the victims' mouths. This was to help alleviate pain a little bit and moisten their mouths and lips. But Jesus refused even this small comfort. Why? Because He was willing to experience every suffering moment if it spared us suffering for our sins!

Psalms 75:8(MKVJ) For in the hand of Jehovah there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed; and He pours out from it; but the dregs of it, all the wicked of the earth shall drain its dregs and drink.

We are sinners and we deserve the wrath of God! But Jesus took that wrath upon Himself even though He knew no sin! Thank You Jesus!!!


Let's go back to the Old Testament and look at Frankincense. God gave Moses instructions on making the holy incense to be used in the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) and, later, the Temple. The recipe was to be only used for sacred purposes.

Exodus 30:34-38 (CEV) Mix equal amounts of the costly spices stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, then add salt to make the mixture pure and holy. (36) Pound some of it into powder and sprinkle it in front of the sacred chest, where I meet with you. Be sure to treat this incense as something very holy. (37) It is truly holy because it is dedicated to me, so don't ever make any for yourselves. (38) If you ever make any of it to use as perfume, you will no longer belong to my people.

How was it to be used? God gave Moses instructions on creating the Tabernacle and all it's furniture. The Tabernacle was the tent of meeting with God. It basically had three divisions: the Outer Court, the Inner Court and the Holy of Holies. It was a temporary structure that the Israelites could pack up and move as they traversed towards the Promised Land from Egypt and wandered 40 years in the wilderness. Later, King Solomon built a Temple in Jerusalem that was one of the wonders of the world. One of the pieces of furniture was the altar of incense. God gave Moses instructions on making a brazier on which to burn incense in the Tabernacle and Temple. This altar of incense was placed in the Inner Court of the Tabernacle (later, the Temple) before the curtain that separated the Inner Court from the Holy of Holies. It was called the Golden Altar, the Altar of Incense, and the Altar Before the Lord.

Exodus 37:25-29 (CEV) For burning incense, Bezalel made an altar of acacia wood. It was eighteen inches square and thirty-six inches high with each of its four corners sticking up like the horn of a bull. (26) He covered it with pure gold and put a gold edging around it. (27) Then below the edging on opposite sides he attached two gold rings through which he put the poles for carrying the altar. (28) These poles were also made of acacia wood and covered with gold. (29) Bezalel mixed the oil for dedication and the sweet-smelling spices for the incense.

Exodus 30:1-9 (English Standard Version - ESV) "You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. (2) A cubit shall be its length, and a cubit its breadth. It shall be square, and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. (3) You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top and around its sides and its horns. And you shall make a molding of gold around it. (4) And you shall make two golden rings for it. Under its molding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall be holders for poles with which to carry it. (5) You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. (6) And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you. (7) And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, (8) and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the LORD throughout your generations. (9) You shall not offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it.



Matthew Henry Commentary On The Bible - (The incense) was prepared once a year, a pound for each day of the year, and three pounds over for the day of atonement. When it was used, it was to be beaten very small: thus it pleased the Lord to bruise the Redeemer when he offered himself for a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour.

A "censer" (also called "fire pans") was a small portable vessel of metal fitted to receive burning coals from the altar, and on which the incense for burning was sprinkled.


Leviticus 16:12-13 Then you will take a fire pan of live coals from the bronze altar, together with two handfuls of finely ground incense, into the most holy place. (13) There you will present them to me by placing the incense on the coals, so that the place of mercy will be covered with a cloud of smoke. Do this, or you will die right there!

The smoke of the frankincense, rising up, symbolized the prayers of God's people and is acceptable to God.

Psalms 141:2 (CEV) Think of my prayer as sweet-smelling incense, and think of my lifted hands as an evening sacrifice.

Revelation 5:8 (CEV) After he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders knelt down before him. Each of them had a harp and a gold bowl full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people.

Revelation 8:3-5 (CEV) Another angel, who had a gold container for incense, came and stood at the altar. This one was given a lot of incense to offer with the prayers of God's people on the gold altar in front of the throne. (4) Then the smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God's people, went up to God from the hand of the angel. (5) After this, the angel filled the incense container with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth. Thunder roared, lightning flashed, and the earth shook.

Jesus is the One that makes our prayers acceptable to God, a sweet aroma before Him. Without Jesus, our sin makes any religious attempt a stinking mess.

Amos 5: 12a, 21-23 (King James Version - KJV) 12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins...(21) I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. (22) Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. (23) Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.

Let's look at that in another translation:

Amos 5: 12a, 21-23 (CEV) I am the Lord, and I know your terrible sins....(21) I, the Lord, hate and despise your religious celebrations and your times of worship. (22) I won’t accept your offerings or animal sacrifices— not even your very best. (23) No more of your noisy songs! I won’t listen when you play your harps.

The Hebrew word for "smell" in Amos 5:21 is ruach and means to smell, scent, perceive odour, accept. Our attempts at worshiping without Christ stinks! It is NOT acceptable to God. Because it is tainted with our sin. But Jesus can cleanse us of our sin and our worship can be acceptable to God because the stench of sin is gone!


Why did the Wise Men bring the baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh? They were very valuable and highly sought gifts. We understand the value of gold but why was frankincense and myrrh worth their weight in gold? These valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world: gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil.

Isaiah 60:6 (ERV) Herds of camels from Midian and Ephah will cross your land. Long lines of camels will come from Sheba. They will bring gold and incense. People will sing praises to the Lord.

Both frankincense and myrrh have healing properties. Frankincense and myrrh each have their own separate curative properties, and both were used in various ways to treat everything from scratches and bruises to common illnesses. When mixed together in different proportions, frankincense and myrrh became an entire drugstore of powerful medicines. Frankincense is a natural anti-inflammatory. It also has a neuro-active chemical that has a profound effect on emotions.

Gold representing his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming. Augustine said: “Gold, as paid to a mighty King; frankincense, as offered to God; myrrh, as to one who is to die for the sins of all.” Frankincense as a symbol of holiness and righteousness, was symbolic of Jesus' willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving Himself up, as a burnt offering. It also symbolized his priesthood. Jesus became our High Priest and makes intercession for us to the Father.

Hebrews 3:1 (ERV) So, my brothers and sisters, those chosen by God to be his holy people, think about Jesus. He is the one we believe God sent to save us and to be our high priest.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (ERV) We have a great high priest who has gone to live with God in heaven. He is Jesus the Son of God. So let us continue to express our faith in him. (15) Jesus, our high priest, is able to understand our weaknesses. When Jesus lived on earth, he was tempted in every way. He was tempted in the same ways we are tempted, but he never sinned. (16) With Jesus as our high priest, we can feel free to come before God's throne where there is grace. There we receive mercy and kindness to help us when we need it.


Myrrh

Wikipedia:
Myrrh is the aromatic resin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which is an essential oil termed an oleoresin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum. It has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine. Myrrh mixed with wine can also be ingested. When a tree wound penetrates through the bark and into the sapwood, the tree bleeds a resin. Myrrh gum, like frankincense, is such a resin. When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum. Myrrh gum is waxy and coagulates quickly. After the harvest, the gum becomes hard and glossy. The gum is yellowish and may be either clear or opaque. It darkens deeply as it ages, and white streaks emerge.

Myrrh was an ingredient of Ketoret, the consecrated incense used in the First and Second Temples at Jerusalem, as described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. Myrrh is also listed as an ingredient in the holy anointing oil used to anoint the Tabernacle, high priests and kings.

Myrrh was traded by camel caravans overland from areas of production in southern Arabia by the Nabataeans to their capital city of Petra, from which it was distributed throughout the Mediterranean region.


Most resin (whether myrrh or frankincense) is obtained by tapping which is making deliberate incisions with a sharp tool or ordinary axe into the bark of the tree. The milky liquid that exudes is the resin and it hardens on exposure to air into droplets or “tears”. It is antiseptic, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and astringent.


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The word "myrrh" comes from "murr," which means "bitter" in Arabic, probably referring to the resin's bitter taste. Spices such as myrrh and frankincense came from trees and bushes that grew in desert areas stretching from southern Arabia to Somalia in Africa. To reach Israel, many spices had to be transported across Arabia. Ancient towns, fortresses, and caravan stops found in the Negev of southern Israel mark the routes of spice traders. These settlements also “reflect the hugely profitable trade . . . from south Arabia to the Mediterranean,” reports the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO. Caravans laden with these aromatic spices regularly traveled distances of some 1,100 miles. Arabian merchants controlled most of the spice trade for centuries. They became the exclusive suppliers of spices from Asia.

It was to spice traders that Joseph was sold, by his brothers, into slavery.

Genesis 37:25-27 (KJV) And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. (26) And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? (27) Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.

How do you make an essential oil from myrrh resin (and other oleo-resins like Frankincense)? It is steam-distilled. You place the resin in something that can be heated (a jar) and place it in a water bath and heat the water to boiling. The resin melts. While it is hot, you strain to filter. You leave the liquid a few days to let sediment fall to the bottom and then you siphon off the clear liquid.

Frankincense and myrrh are powerful medicines. Myrrh was used to embalm bodies. The last great Jesuit biblical scholar, Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide, states: “The bodies of the dead are buried with myrrh, that they may remain incorrupt. Myrrh has the property of drying up moisture, and preventing the generation of worms.”

John 19:38-42 (ERV) Later, a man named Joseph from Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. (Joseph was a follower of Jesus, but he did not tell anyone, because he was afraid of the Jewish leaders.) Pilate said Joseph could take Jesus' body, so he came and took it away. (39) Nicodemus went with Joseph. He was the man who had come to Jesus before and talked to him at night. He brought about 100 pounds of spices--a mixture of myrrh and aloes. (40) These two men took Jesus' body and wrapped it in pieces of linen cloth with the spices. (This is how the Jews bury people.) (41) In the place where Jesus was killed on the cross, there was a garden. In the garden there was a new tomb. No one had ever been buried there before. (42) The men put Jesus in that tomb because it was near, and the Jews were preparing to start their Sabbath day.

Jesus would die for the salvation of the world. The Magi's gift prophesied that the Savior would offer his life as a most pure sacrifice and that by his death he would gain for us eternal life. Origen in his book Contra Celsum, wrote "gold, as to a king; myrrh, as to one who was mortal; and incense, as to a God".

The 7th verse of We Three Kings:
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

It was also a key ingredient of the anointing oil. It was used very often to symbolise the authority and holiness of priests, kings, and even the Tabernacle itself.



So we come to the end. Frankincense and Myrrh were as valuable as gold in those days. The gold, frankincense and myrrh would have been a wealthy gift fit for a king. We see this when we look at Genesis 43.

Genesis 43:1-26 (ERV) The famine was very bad in that country. (2) The people ate all the grain they had brought from Egypt. When that grain was gone, Jacob said to his sons, "Go to Egypt and buy some more grain for us to eat." (3) But Judah said to Jacob, "But the governor of that country warned us. He said, 'If you don't bring your brother back to me, I will refuse to talk to you.' (4) If you send Benjamin with us, we will go down and buy grain. (5) But if you refuse to send Benjamin, we will not go. The man warned us to not come back without him." (6) Israel said, "Why did you tell him you had another brother? Why did you do such a bad thing to me?" (7) The brothers answered, "He asked lots of questions. He wanted to know all about us and about our family. He asked us, 'Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother at home?' We only answered his questions. We didn't know he would ask us to bring our brother to him!" (8) Then Judah said to his father Israel, "Let Benjamin go with me. I will take care of him. We have to go to Egypt to get food. If we don't go, we will all die--including our children. (9) I will make sure he is safe. I will be responsible for him. If I don't bring him back to you, you can blame me forever. (10) If you had let us go before, we could have already made two trips for food." (11) Then their father Israel said, "If it is really true, take Benjamin with you. But take some gifts to the governor. Take some of the things we have been able to gather in our land. Take him some honey, pistachio nuts, almonds, spices, and myrrh. (12) Take twice as much money with you this time. Take the money that was given back to you after you paid last time. Maybe the governor made a mistake. (13) Take Benjamin, and go back to the man. (14) I pray that God All-Powerful will help you when you stand before the governor. I pray that he will let Benjamin, and also Simeon, come back safely. If not, I will again be sad from losing my children." (15) So the brothers took the gifts to give to the governor. And the brothers took twice as much money with them as they took the first time. This time Benjamin went with the brothers to Egypt. (16) When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his servant, "Bring these men into my house. Kill an animal and cook it. They will eat with me at noon today." (17) The servant did as he was told. He brought the men into Joseph's house. (18) The brothers were afraid when they were taken to Joseph's house and said, "We have been brought here because of the money that was put back in our sacks the last time. They will use this as proof against us and steal our donkeys and make us slaves." (19) So the brothers went to the servant in charge of Joseph's house. (20) They said, "Sir, I promise this is the truth. The last time we came, we came to buy food. (21) On the way home, we opened our sacks and found our money in every sack. We don't know how it got there, but we brought that money with us to give it back to you. And we have brought more money to pay for the food that we want to buy this time." (23) But the servant answered, "Don't be afraid; believe me. Your God, the God of your father, must have put the money in your sack as a gift. I remember that you paid me for the grain the last time." Then the servant brought Simeon out of the prison. (24) The servant led the men into Joseph's house. He gave them water, and they washed their feet. Then he fed their donkeys. (25) The brothers heard that they were going to eat with Joseph, so they worked until noon preparing their gifts for him. (26) When Joseph came home, the brothers gave him the gifts they had brought with them. Then they bowed down to the ground in front of him.

The brothers had not recognized their younger brother, Joseph, and he had not revealed that he recognized them. When they were forced to return to Egypt for food, their father sent gifts good enough for a king and they included "spices and myrrh".

Mary and Joseph had crept into Bethlehem in near poverty. They had to spend the night in a stable where Jesus was born. They were still in Bethlehem when the Magi made their way to visit the Messiah. It is thought Jesus was 2 years old then. Why were they still there? Could it be that they didn't have the finances to move? When the Magi came, bearing their gifts, Joseph was led by God to immediately leave for Egypt with Mary and Jesus to protect Jesus from Herod. They had the money to travel to Egypt and to get established there and later to move back to Nazareth. God provided for them right on time!

Matthew 2:10-14 (ERV) They were very happy and excited to see the star. (11) The wise men came to the house where the child was with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened the boxes of gifts they had brought for him. They gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (12) But God warned the wise men in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they went home to their own country a different way. (13) After the wise men left, an angel from the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. The angel said, "Get up! Take the child with his mother and escape to Egypt. Herod wants to kill the child and will soon start looking for him. Stay in Egypt until I tell you to come back." (14) So Joseph got ready and left for Egypt with the child and the mother. They left during the night.

Matthew 2:19-23 While Joseph was in Egypt, Herod died. An angel from the Lord came to Joseph in a dream (20) and said, "Get up! Take the child with his mother and go to Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are now dead." (21) So Joseph took the child and the mother and went to Israel. (22) But he heard that Archelaus was now king in Judea. Archelaus became king when his father Herod died. So Joseph was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he went away to the area of Galilee. (23) He went to a town called Nazareth and lived there. This gave full meaning to what God said through the prophets. God said the Messiah would be called a Nazarene.

Not only did these gifts help them monetarily, but they represented, symbolised and prophesied Jesus' as King, High Priest and Holy and Willing Sacrifice. Glory be to our God!

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