This is a brief follow up to a blog post about three weeks ago on Matt. 2:1-12 where I talked about the gifts of healing and health the Magi brought to the young child, Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
At that time, I couldn’t imagine gold was anything other than cash to buy other necessities. And that still could be what they brought. Yet I learned of a new theory that makes sense, too.
One of our readings was from Jeremiah 8 where he asked, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” The balm of Gilead was a high-quality ointment with healing properties. Balms of this kind come from trees or bushes that grow all over the world. In that area, it was produced in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia.
Scholars have suggested a fairly convincing theory that the gift of gold the wise men to Jesus actually might have been golden balsam oil. This makes a lot of sense because trees that produced golden balsam, frankincense, and myrrh grew in the same habitat.
When the wise men from the east, which very likely could have been Saudi Arabia, brought gifts, the gold may have been another healing ointment, golden balsam oil. Gold balsam oil fits right in with other healing oils like frankincense and myrrh. That combination might have been a first century healer’s medicine kit.
If the Magi read it in the stars that this special child was destined to be a great healer, they brought the perfect gifts: healing oils of golden balsam, frankincense, and myrrh.