What is frankincense?
Arrording to Encyclopedia Brittanica it is a Fragrant gum resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia (family Burseraceae), particularly several varieties found in Somalia, Yemen, and Oman. This important incense resin was used in ancient times in religious rites and in embalming. It constituted part of the Jewish incense of the sanctuary and is frequently mentioned in the Pentateuch; it was one of the gifts of the magi to the infant Jesus. It is used today in incense and fumigants and as a fixative in perfumes.
Dictionary.com says it is – An aromatic gum resin obtained from African and Asian trees of the genus Boswellia and used chiefly as incense and in perfumes.
Answers.com refers to it’s uses … Frankincense is used in perfumery and aromatherapy. Olibanum essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin. Some of the smell of the olibanum smoke is due to the products of pyrolysis.
Frankincense was lavishly used in religious rites. In the Book of Exodusin the Old Testament, it was an ingredient for incense (Ex 30:34); according to the book of Matthew 2:11, gold, frankincense, and myrrh were among the gifts to Jesus by the Biblical Magi “from out of the East.”
It is clear that herbs, rock compounds, and even resins like frankincense were used as symbols to bring meaning and power in relationships and in spiritual and religious rites and ceremonies.