No other metal is named as frequently in the Bible as gold. The Bible most often refers to gold as a form of worldly wealth, but gold also serves as a symbol of spiritual wealth. In biblical times, gold was rarer than today. For the most part, only kings or the very wealthy possessed it. Gold was one of the three gifts that the MAGI offered to the baby JESUS. Therefore, the Magi’s GIFT of gold is most often interpreted as recognition of Jesus’kingship or his spiritual authority.
Until the mid-1700s tradition dictated that the British monarch offer gifts of FRANKINCENSE, gold, and MYRRH at the Chapel Royal on Epiphany. Heralds and knights of the Garter, Thistle, and Bath accompanied the king on his royal pilgrimage. Under the unstable King George III (1760-1820) the procession was abandoned, although the monarch’s gift of gold, frankincense, and myrrh is still sent to the Chapel Royal by proxy. A similar royal offering was at one time customary in SPAIN.
Gold has been considered rare, valuable, and beautiful throughout history. In addition to its beauty and brightness, gold has some unusual properties. It is nearly indestructible, and yet it is also the most malleable of metals. A single ounce of gold can be beaten into a sheet of gold leaf that measures approximately 200 feet on each side. Gold does not tarnish or corrode, and is extremely resistant to wear. Finally, it is often found in a nearly pure state. These qualities enhance its value, versatility, and mystery.