Matthew 2:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 2:11, NIV: On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11, ESV: And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11, KJV: And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11, NASB: And after they came into the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary; and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11, NLT: They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11, CSB: Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

What does Matthew 2:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The previous verse tells us how joyful the wise men, or "Magi," were at fulfilling their quest to find the child they knew as the long-prophesied "King of the Jews." We don't have any details as to whether they understood Jesus to be the Son of God, or if they had any inkling of how He might save or reign over Israel. They were men who were deeply interested in astrology and astronomy and ancient prophecies and, perhaps, dreams and supernatural happenings.

What we do know is they believed Jesus to be a true and significant king whose birth fulfilled prophecy. They understood Him to be the Christ of Israel and worthy of worship, at least in the sense of paying homage due to a royal superior. Some scholars believe these men were kings of some sort, because their actions here may fulfill prophecies found in the Old Testament (Psalm 68:29; Psalm 72:10–11; Isaiah 60:6; Isaiah 49:7).

This moment does not happen at the stable on the night Jesus was born. Tradition, especially miniature sculptures from nativity scenes, places the wise men in the stable worshipping Jesus in His manger (Luke 2:7). However, the Bible indicates that several months to as long as two years have passed since that night. By now, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus have settled into a house in Bethlehem, though Joseph's hometown is in Nazareth in the northern part of Israel known as Galilee.

The wise men fall down before the child in a gesture of deep respect and submission. Jesus is with Mary, his mother, but their worship is clearly specified as being for Christ alone. They produce the extremely valuable gifts they have brought with them and place them before Jesus. Giving gifts to a king or other superior was a common Middle Eastern practice and a sign of great respect.

The gifts included gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Frankincense is a gum or resin that glitters and was used for religious incense to create a specific aroma. Myrrh also had a strong smell and was used for perfume and embalming. All three gifts were quite costly. Fortunately, these would have greatly helped Joseph and Mary to fund their emergency trip to Egypt to flee from Herod (Matthew 2:13).

This particular text does not connect these gifts to any specific symbolism. However, many scholars and commentators have done so. It's likely that gold represents Jesus' royalty. Frankincense would symbolize His divinity and priesthood. Myrrh would foreshadow His death and resurrection.