Frankincense and myrrh were two spices used to make various substances used in the ancient Jewish Temple of Jerusalem. Historically, they were also used to produce perfume, cosmetics and even medicine, and many of these uses continue to the present day.

Biblical References

The Book of Exodus describes several spices that go into the production of the ritual incense "ketoret," including frankincense , or levonah. Myrrh, or mor, was included as an ingredient in the oil used to anoint priests and later kings. The Magi offered the baby Jesus gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold (Matthew 2:11).

Derivation

Frankincense and myrrh are both resins derived from the trees of the Boswellia and Commiphora family, respectively.

Contemporary Uses

Frankincense is sweet-smelling and is used extensively as a cosmetic, including the production of kohl, the eye liner depicted in ancient Egyptian art. Myrrh, despite its bitter taste, is used as a major ingredient in Asian and Middle Eastern medicine traditions.