12 Oils of Ancient Scripture: Frankincense, part I

This is the beginning of the story of 12 Oils of Ancient Scripture, including some exciting experiences of Gary Young as he has traveled and studied around the world. Today, Gary Young recounts one particular experience in traveling to southern Arabia to discover the secrets of the frankincense tree.

frankincense tree

One particular morning I arose from bed in a city called Salalah in southern Arabia. I’ll never forget the excitement that was in my heart as I realized that morning that Mary and I were going to travel into the mountains in eastern Oman to see, to feel, to touch, to experience the magnificence of the greatest storied tree in world history: the frankincense tree.

The excitement grew as I thought about when we would journey into the empty quarter to see the city of Od, now referred to as the lost city of Ubar—the Atlantis of the desert. A city where the trade of frankincense and myrrh and balsam took place; where fine linens and silks came across the Silk Road from China, Tibet, and India and journeyed all the way into Southern Arabia to trade for the precious ointments and the precious resins of frankincense and myrrh. A commodity that was so wealthy that the kings prized their wealth upon the volume of this great ointment and resin that they possessed. That the newborn kings and queens were anointed with these precious oils. Why? Why were these such praised and sought-after commodities?

As I stood at the foot of a frankincense tree looking up into the branches, I realized that I was touching a tree that produced a resin that could be distilled into an oil with which the Christ child may have been anointed with; an oil that was anciently regarded as being more valuable than gold; and one of the most powerful natural healing substances known. Trader ships from Sri Lanka, India, China, Japan, Egypt, and various ports of the world brought spices, linens, gold, and silver to make the journey to the lost city of Ubar to trade for the precious ointments. We read in Exodus that these substances were regarded as very special, very sacred elements:

“And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Take unto thee sweet spices spectate and galbanum, these sweet spices with pure frankincense of each there should be a like weight. And thou shall make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together pure and holy. And thou shall beat some of it very small and put it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation where I will meet with thee. It shall be unto you most holy.’”

Stay tuned for more adventures and education about my travels and the 12 Oils of Ancient Scripture!

Essentially Yours,

Gary Young