Melchior represents the Gold brought to Jesus . Balthazar, who has black skin and a black beard (or no beard!) and wears a purple cloak. He is the King of Tarsus/Macedonia and Egypt. Balthazar represents the gift of Myrrh that was brought to Jesus .
As per the Biblical tale, as recounted in Matthew 2:1-12, an infant Jesus of Nazareth was visited in Bethlehem on the eve of his birth by Magi bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense was often burned as an incense, while myrrh made its way into medicine and perfume.
The magi knelt down for the baby Jesus and “offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Their gifts are possibly an allusion to Isaiah’s vision of nations rendering tribute to Jerusalem: “A multitude of camels shall cover you.
The wise men brought gold , frankincense and myrrh to the newborn king. Gold , of course, was valuable as currency. Frankincense is a valuable perfume.
Saint Balthazar; also called Balthasar, Balthassar, and Bithisarea, was according to tradition one of the biblical Magi along with Caspar and Melchior who visited the infant Jesus after he was born. Balthazar is traditionally referred to as the King of Macedonia and gave the gift of myrrh to Jesus .
The three gifts had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death. This dates back to Origen in Contra Celsum: “gold, as to a king; myrrh, as to one who was mortal; and incense, as to a God.”
The 12 fruits are charity (or love), joy, peace, patience, benignity (or kindness), goodness, longanimity (or long-suffering), mildness (or gentleness), faith , modesty, continency (or self-control ), and chastity.
The gift of frankincense is said to have been an acknowledgement of Jesus ‘ priesthood, setting him apart from a typical king. Frankincense was used in the temple routines, burned ceremonially by the priests.
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.
Magi (/ˈmeɪdʒaɪ/; singular magus /ˈmeɪɡəs/; from Latin magus) were priests in Zoroastrianism and the earlier religions of the western Iranians. The earliest known use of the word magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great , known as the Behistun Inscription.
In the mountains of ancient Persia, lived Artaban, whose study of the planets and the stars led him to predict the birth of the King of Kings.
Frankincense comes from the dried sap of Boswellia trees, while myrrh comes from the lifeblood of the Commiphora. Extracting the sap is a tenuous dance—you must injure the tree without killing it.
Myrrh is used for indigestion, ulcers, colds, cough, asthma, lung congestion, arthritis pain, cancer, leprosy, spasms, and syphilis. It is also used as a stimulant and to increase menstrual flow.
A pound of granular myrrh for incense sold by a vendor called New Age on Amazon.com runs $13.95 . The cost of gold has been volatile — it was so highly prized during recent uncertain economic times that it neared $1,900 an ounce. It’s currently hovering around $1,600.
According to the Tradition of the Church Fathers, the gold and the incense are respectively the signs of the royalty and the divinity of Jesus, Son of God and consubstantial to the Father whereas the myrrh was a sign of death as it clearly evoked the Hebrew and Egyptian funeral rites.