Hoping to grow frankincense in the Arava of Israel

Botanist Dr. Elaine Solowey is already known to us for the successful sprouting of a 2,000 year old date palm. See here.

Matthew Kalman reports that she is now trying her hand at growing frankincense in the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.

“This is the first frankincense tree to set seed in Israel in 1500 years,” Dr Solowey told me as she presented the tiny sapling for its first public photo-call this week. “It was necessary to bring this variety back to the country because the last people growing these trees near the Dead Sea left and the trees left with them.”

Frankincense tree, Salalah, Oman.

Frankincense tree, Salalah, Oman.

In biblical times, frankincense, myrrh  and balm of Gilead were used among the ingredients of the incense used in Solomon’s Temple (1 Chronicles 9:29-30). Solowey and other scientists are examining the medical uses of these products.

Every student of the New Testament remembers the gifts brought by the Magi (wise men) to Jesus.

As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11 NET)

Our photo show frankincense displayed at Avdat, a Nabatean site along the ancient incense route. Frankincense is linked with gold in Isaiah 60:6, and is considered a great value.

Frankincense on the ancient spice route at Avdat, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Frankincense on the ancient spice route at Avdat, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

To read all of Kalman’s informative article, see here.

We have written about frankincense and myrrh, with more photos and details, here and here and here.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

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