Friday, April 6, 2012
F is for Frankincense
“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, NKJV)
Frankincense is a substance or ingredient that is referenced in Exodus 30:34, Leviticus 2:1, Nehemiah 13:5, 9, and Isaiah 66:3. The Hebrew term comes from a root meaning “whiteness.” This refers to the white, “milky” color of the fresh juice. Our English word comes from an old French word franc encens, which translated means “pure incense.”
Frankincense comes from trees which grow in southern Arabia, India, and a few other places. These trees are related to terebinth trees and the shrubs from which balsam and myrrh comes from. The gum is removed by making incisions in the bark. The trees start producing resin when they are about 8 to 10 years old. Tapping is done 2 to 3 times a year Frankincense is bitter to the taste and has a very strong balsamic odor when it is heated.
Frankincense was considered very valuable in Egypt and was used for both fumigation and embalming. It was used in some ceremonies including burial ceremonies by the ancient Hebrews. They probably picked this up when they lived in Egypt prior to the exodus.
Frankincense is used in perfumery and aromatherapy. Frankincense essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin. Some of the smell of the frankincense smoke is due to the products of pyrolysis. The magi, whom we don’t know how many there were, nor from where they came, (other than the east) nor what their names were gave frankincense to the young child Jesus in the house when Jesus was about two (2), (not while in the manager.) Please don't take your theology from Christmas cards.
Posted by Gregg Metcalf at 4:00 AM