The 3 Wise Men knew the Messiah would soon be born. They started their journey to see the Christ Child and give their gifts of gold (money), frankincense: Originating in Arabia and northern Africa, frankincense is a dried resin (from trees of the genus Boswellia) used in perfumes and incense for thousands of years. Historically, frankincense was a highly valued commodity.
When burned as incense, it was often valued for its aroma as well as for its reputed ability to disinfect and repel insects and other pests.
Myrrh is also a dried resin from Arabia and northern Africa (from thorny shrubs and trees of the genus Commiphora) used in perfumes, incense, and medicines for thousands of years. The word comes from an Arabic word meaning “bitter.” It has been valued for its aroma as well as for its use as an antiseptic, analgesic (topical painkiller), and other medicinal qualities.
Gold from the Wise Men has frequently been mentioned as possibly being very useful in helping Joseph and Mary pay for their flight to Egypt to escape Herod. (The other gifts could have been sold for a very good price as well.)
The Wise Men did not come when Jesus was lying in the manger. They may have come anywhere from a couple of weeks to two years later (see Matthew 2:1–18). The word for “wise men” used in the Bible is magi, which refers to an ancient group of astronomers and priests belonging to the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. We also don’t know how many Wise Men there were. Because there were three gifts, people have traditionally imagined there were three Wise Men.