Smells like heaven: Israeli farm recreates Magi’s gifts to Jesus

A visitor walks in the cave, where Virgin Mary is believed to have given birth to Jesus, inside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 12, 2017.

By Rinat Harash

ALMOG, West Bank (Reuters) – The aromatic plants bestowed on the infant Jesus are being cultivated by an Israeli entrepreneur who aims to transform the gifts of the Christmas story into therapeutic balms and incense.

Manger aside, the baby Jesus may have been swaddled in pleasant and pricey fragrances, thanks to the presents that the Bible says were given to him by the Wise Men of the East.

The frankincense (pungent and sweet) and myrrh (sharp and piney) recounted in the Gospel of St Matthew are being grown by Guy Erlich, a businessman who hopes to revive the rare plants’ use for commercial ends.

And what about gold, the third gift brought by the Magi according to the New Testament story?

Some Christians believe this refers to the precious amber resin of the Balsam of Gilead, an aromatic mix resembling citrus and cinnamon that Erlich also cultivates on his farm in the Judean desert.

“I see myself as a modern Magus,” he told Reuters.

“I decided to focus on plants that no one else in the world grows. Since those plants, those medical plants of the Bible were in medical use for so many years, there must be something about them and it is our duty to look for it.”

Dried and crushed resins of all three plants smolder in a nearby censer, filling the air with heavenly smells of fruity freshness.

Guy Erlich, an Israeli entrepreneur, taps a frankincense plant at a plantation in Kibbutz Almog, Judean desert, in the West Bank, November 30, 2017.

Guy Erlich, an Israeli entrepreneur, taps a frankincense plant at a plantation in Kibbutz Almog, Judean desert, in the West Bank, November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Such smoke was used for religious rites and fumigation in ancient times. The plants have also been known to produce balms, poultices and perfumes. The Balsam of Gilead resin, Erlich says, was used as the oil with which biblical kings were anointed.

Archaeologists doubt the claim that it could be identified as the Magi’s gold, and attribute the origins of this theory to Christian evangelical circles.

But Christianity scholar Yisca Harani explains it may be plausible in at least a literary way, if there was a translation inaccuracy of the word “gold”.

“Maybe it was this very precious Balm of Gilead. Maybe it was another statement from Biblical times saying these are the perfumes that are typical of the prophecies of God, these are the gifts of the land.”

Prof. Shimshon Ben Yehoshua, from the Volcani Agricultural Research Centre and the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agriculture, says Erlich’s plants are most likely the same as those from ancient times.

“For the frankincense and myrrh which I believe are similar to the ones that were growing in the past in Israel, those are many species but I believe that the species he (Guy Erlich) grew has the desirable qualities,” he told Reuters.

In addition to Christians interested in sampling the scents, Erlich says he has been fielding inquiries from pious Jews who thrill at the prospect of recreating the incenses that were burnt in their Roman-era temple in Jerusalem.

“My plants are sacred to all religions,” he said. “Now they can be a uniting factor. They can be a common ground. They can connect people.”

(Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by William Maclean)

Cyber Monday is coming Nov. 27th! It’s the Launch of our PTL Shop!

PTL Shop, Faith Based shopping

By Kami Klein

On Cyber Monday, November 27th, millions of shoppers will be looking online for amazing gifts for friends and family.  We could not think of a better time to launch ptlshop.com!  On Cyber Monday beginning at 10 am Central Time, we will be broadcasting live on our new website, ptlshop.com, with online and on street specials here at Morningside!  There will be unbelievable deals and brand new, never before seen products that you will love!  

This Thanksgiving, after spending time celebrating and thanking God for our incredible blessings and our bellies are full, we will be busy filling the PTL shop website with incredible gifts to help you get your Christmas shopping list DONE the moment we launch!  There will be apparel and jewelry, Christian books and media, wonderful products for health and beauty, beautiful and useful products for your home and garden, and some brand new gizmos and gadgets you just have to see!  

If you have ever experienced an online shopping event here at Morningside, you understand that nobody knows what will happen next and this year promises to be the biggest event EVER!  So mark your calendars for Cyber Monday, November 27th at 10 am to go to ptlshop.com and simply push the “Watch live” button to take you on a truly fun and bargain filled day of shopping!  

Remember to keep coming back for daily deals and incredible additions to the PTL Shop website and live events!  

All of us here at Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show as well as the amazing team behind ptlshop.com wish you and your family a beautiful Thanksgiving filled with love!  We hope to see you soon, Monday, November 27th on ptlshop.com!

 

Morningside disaster team in Florida – Lives can change in only a day

One home destroyed by Hurricane Irma in Immokalee, Florida,

By Kami Klein

Imagine being a hard working family in a small agricultural town in Florida.  You don’t have much but everyday you give it the best you can. You work hard, you love your family and you support your church.  But then a storm like Hurricane Irma hits and is unlike any storm you can remember.  The town you knew, the job you went to everyday,  your home where your family and friends gathered and the simple vital items such as food and clean water are gone.

This is the fate of thousands of people in Immokalee, Florida, one of the hardest hit communities of Hurricane Irma.  With no power, lack of good drinking water and warm meals for families, the people in this community have been devastated.  At this very moment, the donations you have provided through our Disaster Relief fund  are giving hope and food to hungry people who have lost literally everything.

Yesterday our Morningside team, Mondo DeLaVega, Ricky Bakker, Tammy Sue Bakker, Daina Martin and our camera crew David Zorob, Hamilton Neumann and Adam Armstrong, began handing out the food from our food buckets.  The people stood in line for hours, waiting to fill bags, boxes and buckets up with rice, beans, pancake mix, vegetable stew, milk, banana and apple chips and so much more because of YOUR gifts to the relief effort.  At times, the line seemed never ending, and the experience of seeing so many who were waiting so patiently for help stirred the deepest emotions in the volunteers who were there.  

Another home destroyed by Hurricane Irma in Florida

Another-home-in-florida-damaged-by-Hurricane-Irma

Tammy Sue Bakker attempted to share the emotions that the volunteers were feeling. “If you have a heart, it’s just so hard to talk about it…We’ve got to keep helping people.  We have no choice!”  

Mondo and Tammy Sue agreed that the entire team has been completely changed by this humbling experience, and the needs they have seen from the disaster in Houston and now Florida are surreal.  On a Facebook live message Mondo wanted to deeply impress the great need that is going on all over the world right now.  

“We need your help.  This is not just a one day effort, this is an everyday kind of effort.  People need ministries like this one to give food and supplies.  Every little bit helps here but please, be a part of what we are doing right now.  This food we give today will only last a little while and then these families have to go out to find more.  Pray for this community, the volunteers, donate what you can and please pray for us!”  

The crew has been busy gathering stories and filming the community of Immokalee. The relief effort that is ongoing will be shared soon on The Jim Bakker Show. 

Danny Viera owns the only Christian bookstore in Fr. Myers. He has been coordinating all of the food for this effort.

Danny Viera owns the only Christian bookstore in Fr. Myers. He has been coordinating all of the food for this effort.

Your donations are making a huge impact in this disaster relief effort, but the urgency and the need is quite overwhelming!  We need you!  

So many have asked about our ministry going to help in Puerto Rico.  We are doing all we can to get there.  There are many logistics involved in getting this food to where it needs to go, so we must rely on your compassion and financial generosity to help us get these supplies to those that are starving right now in that country!  

Again, we thank you for your prayers!  Those many people who stood in line yesterday, their arms filled with food for their families when they walked home cannot thank you as they would wish but you are in their grateful prayers tonight!

With so much need around the world right now, it takes all of us to make a difference!  Please be a part of what God is asking us to do now!  

Give your gift today!!