Frankincense Incense – An Ingredient in the Holy Incense
Frankincense Incense – An Ingredient in the Holy Incense
Along the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula comes the most prized Frankincense in the entire world. Grown high up on the grid plateaus, frankincense comes from a very low twisted bush-like tree that lacks a central trunk with it many prickly branches and pinnate leaves that extend every which way. Its sacred gum is obtained by slashing the roots and branches, making a deep incision then peeling back a narrow strip of its silvery bark, allowing the milky-white substance to ooze out. Once the air hits this substance, the sticky gum hardens into lumps. These lumps are either left on the tree for two weeks to dry or gathered and stored in mountain caves to dry for several months. Sap from the Frankincense is gathered until the middle of September, when rain showers ends the harvest season.
Caravans of camels carried this precious and rare spice packed in sheep and goat skins in quantities of 20 to 40 pounds through the bleak Arabian Desert, west along the Red Sea coast, a trip that takes months as described in Isaiah 60:6 and Jeremiah 6:20. In the Red Sea regions, Frankincense is not only valued for its sweet odor when burnt, but as a masticatory as blazing lumps of it are frequently used for illumination instead of oil lamps. Its fumes also serve as an excellent insecticide with its powerful bouquet, giving off no known toxicity.
Frankincense resins continue to be used for religious rites, medicines and perfumes. When combined together with other spices such as cinnamon or cassia, they create a myriad of scents. Its fragrant smoke that burned in censors was offered to guests to make clothes, hair or beards smell pleasant. The sweet vapor dispelled the unwanted scents of unwashed bodies, as well as refuse in the streets. It also served as an insect repellent, warding off infestation from the many sacrifices and offerings. Today, Frankincense is collected for use in the home as incense, cosmetics and perfumes, refinishing varnish, and chewing gum.
In biblical times, Frankincense was used for religious ceremonies. It was believed the prayers of the Cohanim (priests) on behalf of the people would ascend to heaven amidst the gentle wafts of incense. The Cohanim at the Temple in Jerusalem burnt a kilogram of incense each day with their prayers. Exodus 30:34 records that Frankincense was one of the elements used in the Holy Anointing Oil and was burnt with other substances during the meat and flour offering (Lev. 6:15). In Leviticus 24:7 we read of how Frankincense was placed in purified form on the showbread in the tabernacle. Unlike the other ingredients of the Holy Incense, frankincense was also used in other parts of the Temple. It was specifically forbidden to add frankincense to a sin offering, or to an offering to identify adultery, perhaps indicating its holy nature. The giving of this incense to Yeshua at his birth has been interpreted as symbolizing his priestly office (Exodus 30:34; Lev. 2:1,15-16; Matt.2:11). Historical documents reveal that the Queen of Sheba offered this prized aromatic gum to King Solomon. During Roman times, the Frankincense globules were worth there weight in gold.
This fourth and final ingredient, frankincense in Hebrew is Lebownah or hn”bol. Lebonah which means white light or pure,indicating the color of the substance or the white smoke that it produces.
Lebonah Zakah alludes to Yahweh’s love for His people through which He me’laven-whitens and bleaches our sins. We pray for our thoughts and deeds to be pure before Yahweh.
Draw nigh to Yah, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:8)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of Elohim, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Messiah (II Corinthians 10:5).
Yeshua’s priestly bride is anointed with the Holy Spirit by our High Priest Yeshua, and should emanate this from her wedding garments as well. Revelation 1:6 says:
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and do-minion for ever and ever. Amen.
Just as the Levites ministered to the Lord by burning incense before the ark in the Holy of Holies, as it tells us in Exodus 30:8, And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations, we too, must pray without ceasing.
This white pillar of smoke that ascended, reaching toward Heaven represented the prayers of the saints rising before His throne. The book of Revelation 5:8 says:
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four [and] twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.
A portion of this prescribed incense was not burned but simply placed before the ark in the Holy of Holies. God said that this is where I will meet with thee: it shall unto you most holy (the holiest). Leviticus 24:7 says,
And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon [each] row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, [even] an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Pure frankincense was placed on the loaves of bread (representing Yeshua) to symbolize the purity and fragrance of Christ, the true bread of God. We are reminded of Yeshua’s words in John 6:32:
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. This portion represented the intercessory prayer made by Yeshua to the Father on our behalf and He continues to pray for you.
Isn’t it interesting that Frankincense essential oil is good for a number of conditions related to the lungs – that relate to our breath and “bringing worship” to Yahweh? Frankincense is good for upper respiratory problems including asthma, as well as depression, migraine headaches, cancer, high blood pressure, tonsillitis and even warts. The Egyptians thought Frankincense was the “cure all” from head to toe! I agree, it is a great oil to have on hand.