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Matthew 2:11

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

They presented unto him gifts - The people of the east never approach the presence of kings and great personages, without a present in their hands. This custom is often noticed in the Old Testament, and still prevails in the east, and in some of the newly discovered South Sea Islands.

Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh - Some will have these gifts to be emblematic of the Divinity, regal office, and manhood of Christ. "They offered him incense as their God; gold as their king; and myrrh, as united to a human body, subject to suffering and death." Aurum, thus, myrrham, regique, Deo, Hominique, dona ferunt. Juvencus. Rather, they offered him the things which were in most esteem among themselves; and which were productions of their own country. The gold was probably a very providential supply, as on it, it is likely, they subsisted while in Egypt.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The house - The place where he was born, or the place where they lived at that time.

Fell down - This was the usual way of showing respect or homage among the Jews, Esther 8:3; Job 1:20; Daniel 3:7; Psalm 72:11; Isaiah 46:6.

Worshipped him - Did him homage as King of the Jews. See the notes at Matthew 2:2.

Had opened their treasures - The treasures which they had brought, or the boxes, etc., in which they had brought their gold, etc.

They presented unto him gifts - These were presented to him as King of the Jews, because they supposed he was to be a distinguished prince and conqueror. It was customary in the East to show respect for persons of distinction by making presents or offerings of this kind. See Genesis 32:14; Genesis 43:11; 1 Samuel 10:27; 1 Kings 10:2; Psalm 72:10-15. This custom is still common in the East, and it is everywhere there unusual to approach a person of distinguished rank without a valuable present.

Frankincense - Frankincense is a white resin or gum. It is obtained from a tree by making incisions in the bark, and suffering the gum to flow out. It is highly odoriferous or fragrant when burned, and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God. See Exodus 30:8; Leviticus 16:12. It is found in the East Indies, but chiefly in Arabia; and hence it has been supposed probable that the wise men came from Arabia.

Myrrh - This was also a production of Arabia, and was obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. The name denotes bitterness, and was given to it on account of its great bitterness. It was used chiefly in embalming the dead, because it had the property of preserving dead bodies from putrefaction. Compare John 19:39, it was much used in Egypt and in Judea. It was obtained from a thorny tree, which grows 8 or 9 feet high. It was at an early period an article of commerce Genesis 37:25, and was an ingredient of the holy ointment, Exodus 30:23. It was also used as an agreeable perfume, Esther 2:12; Psalm 45:8; Proverbs 7:17. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Saviour, when about to be crucified, as a stupefying potion, Mark 15:23; compare Matthew 27:34. The offerings here referred to were made because they were the most valuable which the country of the Magi or wise men produced. They were tokens of respect and homage which they paid to the new-born King of the Jews. They evinced their high regard for him, and their belief that he was to be an illustrious prince; and the fact that their deed is recorded with approbation shows us that we should offer our most valuable possessions, our all, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Wise men came from far to do him homage, and bowed down, and presented their best gifts and offerings. It is right that we give to him also our hearts, our property, our all.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
What joy these wise men felt upon this sight of the star, none know so well as those who, after a long and melancholy night of temptation and desertion, under the power of a spirit of bondage, at length receive the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with their spirits that they are the children of God. We may well think what a disappointment it was to them, when they found a cottage was his palace, and his own poor mother the only attendant he had. However, these wise men did not think themselves baffled; but having found the King they sought, they presented their gifts to him. The humble inquirer after Christ will not be stumbled at finding him and his disciples in obscure cottages, after having in vain sought them in palaces and populous cities. Is a soul busy, seeking after Christ? Would it worship him, and does it say, Alas! I am a foolish and poor creature, and have nothing to offer? Nothing! Hast thou not a heart, though unworthy of him, dark, hard, and foul? Give it to him as it is, and be willing that he use and dispose of it as it pleases him; he will take it, and will make it better, and thou shalt never repent having given it to him. He shall frame it to his own likeness, and will give thee himself, and be thine for ever. The gifts the wise men presented were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Providence sent these as a seasonable relief to Joseph and Mary in their present poor condition. Thus our heavenly Father, who knows what his children need, uses some as stewards to supply the wants of others, and can provide for them, even from the ends of the earth.
Ellen G. White
Counsels on Stewardship, 176

The poor widow gave her living to do the little that she did. She deprived herself of food in order to give those two mites to the cause she loved. And she did it in faith, believing that her heavenly Father would not overlook her great need. It was this unselfish spirit and childlike faith that won the Saviour's commendation. CS 176.1

Among the poor there are many who long to show their gratitude to God for His grace and truth. They greatly desire to share with their more prosperous brethren in sustaining His service. These souls should not be repulsed. Let them lay up their mites in the bank of heaven. If given from a heart filled with love for God, these seeming trifles become consecrated gifts, priceless offerings, which God smiles upon and blesses.—The Desire of Ages, 614-616. CS 176.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 143

Thus in their business life Christ's followers are to be light bearers to the world. God does not ask them to make an effort to shine. He approves of no self-satisfied attempt to display superior goodness. He desires that their souls shall be imbued with the principles of heaven, and then, as they come in contact with the world, they will reveal the light that is in them. Their honesty, uprightness, and steadfast fidelity in every act of life will be a means of illumination. 7T 143.1

The kingdom of God comes not with outward show. It comes through the gentleness of the inspiration of His word, through the inward working of His Spirit, the fellowship of the soul with Him who is its life. The greatest manifestation of its power is seen in human nature brought to the perfection of the character of Christ. 7T 143.2

An appearance of wealth or position, expensive architecture or furnishings, are not essential to the advancement of the work of God; neither are achievements that win applause from men and administer to vanity. Worldly display, however imposing, is of no value with God. 7T 143.3

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Stewardship, 297

When you have a holiday, make it a pleasant and happy day for your children, and make it also a pleasant day for the poor and the afflicted. Do not let the day pass without bringing thanksgiving and thank offerings to Jesus. Let parents and children now make earnest effort to redeem the time, and to remedy their past neglect. Let them follow a different course of action from that which the world follows. CS 297.1

There are many things which can be devised with taste and cost far less than the unnecessary presents that are so frequently bestowed upon our children and relatives, and thus courtesy can be shown, and happiness brought into the home. You can teach your children a lesson while you explain to them the reason why you have made a change in the value of their presents, telling them that you are convinced that you have hitherto considered their pleasure more than the glory of God. Tell them that you have thought more of your own pleasure and of their gratification and of keeping in harmony with the customs and traditions of the world, in making presents to those who did not need them, than you have of advancing the cause of God. CS 297.2

Like the wise men of old, you may offer to God your best gifts, and show by your offerings to Him that you appreciate His Gift to a sinful world. Set your children's thoughts running in a new, unselfish channel, by inciting them to present offerings to God for the gift of His only-begotten Son.—The Review and Herald, November 13, 1894. CS 297.3

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Ellen G. White
Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 60

In order that the earthly tabernacle might represent the heavenly, it must be perfect in all its parts, and it must be, in every smallest detail, like the pattern in the heavens. So it is with the characters of those who are finally accepted in the sight of heaven. CT 60.1

The Son of God came down to this earth that in Him men and women might have a representation of the perfect characters which alone God could accept. Through the grace of Christ every provision has been made for the salvation of the human family. It is possible for every transaction entered into by those who claim to be Christians to be as pure as the deeds of Christ. And the soul who accepts the virtues of Christ's character and appropriates the merits of His life is as precious in the sight of God as is His own beloved Son. Sincere and uncorrupted faith is to Him as gold and frankincense and myrrh—the gifts of the Wise Men to the Child of Bethlehem, and the evidence of their faith in Him as the promised Messiah. CT 60.2

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 564

The priests were greatly rejoiced. These leaders of Israel had been given the privilege of receiving Christ as their Saviour, without money and without price. But they refused the precious gift offered them in the most tender spirit of constraining love. They refused to accept that salvation which is of more value than gold, and bought their Lord for thirty pieces of silver. DA 564.1

Judas had indulged avarice until it overpowered every good trait of his character. He grudged the offering made to Jesus. His heart burned with envy that the Saviour should be the recipient of a gift suitable for the monarchs of the earth. For a sum far less than the box of ointment cost, he betrayed his Lord. DA 564.2

The disciples were not like Judas. They loved the Saviour. But they did not rightly appreciate His exalted character. Had they realized what He had done for them, they would have felt that nothing bestowed upon Him was wasted. The wise men from the East, who knew so little of Jesus, had shown a truer appreciation of the honor due Him. They brought precious gifts to the Saviour, and bowed in homage before Him when He was but a babe, and cradled in a manger. DA 564.3

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