A Christmas Nativity Economic Tale

In the Christmas Nativity story, the Wise Men famously brought the baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh, but which was the most valuable? As everyone knows gold is a precious metal extracted by panning in a stream – think the American Gold Rush, or mined from beneath the earth.

Frankincense is a milky white resin extracted from species of the tree genus Boswellia.

Myrrh is a reddish resin that comes from species of the tree genus Commiphora.

Today an ounce of gold will cost you approximately £745 per ounce, frankincense £10 per ounce and myrrh £12 per ounce. The Bible does not say how much of each of the gifts was given but assuming that each package was of equal weight then gold would have been by far the most valuable gift of the three – at least in monetary terms.

People used to believe that if you were suffering from leprosy, plague or a snake bite (or various other ailments) then frankincense or myrrh would cure you. Modern research does however suggest that frankincense may alleviate the symptoms of asthma and arthritis amongst other ailments and myrrh – ulcers, tumours and parasites. There is also research into how nanoparticles of gold could help destroy cancerous tumours. From a good health perspective, it, therefore, appears that the Wise Men may have been aptly named.