>> Deep in the Judaean Desert, a local entrepreneur is reviving the plants gifted to baby Jesus in the biblical story. Aiming to transform frankincense and myrrh into therapeutic balms and incense.>> I'm Reuters reporter Renaut Hrash at the Balm of Gilead farm near the Dead Sea. These are branches of frankincense and myrrh that are grown here.
According to the bible, these were two of the gifts brought to baby Jesus by the Wise Men of the East. A third gift, gold, is believed by some worshipers to the amber resin of this plant, called the Balsam of Gilead. All three are cultivated here by an Israeli entrepreneur who hopes to revive their use in medicine and cosmetics.
And what do they smell like? I'm gonna tap them for resin here, it's very sticky and it has a very potent piney scent. If it was indeed similar to this, baby Jesus must have been swaddled in heavenly fragrances. Guy Erlich says, according to the Bible, the plants were used in medicine for many years and he sees cultivating them as a duty.
>> I see myself as a modern Magus. I grow the myrrh and the frankincense, which are the same myrrh and frankincense that they, the Magis, gave Miriam. And I also grow the Balm of Gilead, that I see, and some others see as the gold from the three presents, it was priceless as gold, it had golden color.
>> Some experts believe Erlich's plants are likely the same as those used in the ancient times. But archaeologists doubt the claim that the Balsam of Gilead resin could be identified as the Magi’s gold. The businessman says, as well as Christians sampling the scents, pious Jews are keen to recreate the incenses that were burned in the Roman era temple in Jerusalem.
Believing his rare plants sacred to all religions, can connect and unite people.