Who Are the Magi? Essay

Submitted By lcargal
Words: 702
Pages: 3

Who are the Magi? “Every author prior to sometime in the middle of the twentieth century was solidly instructed in religion” (Foster 52). O. Henry wrote “The Gift of the Magi” right after the turn of the twentieth century. Growing up prior to the twentieth century O. Henry would have received constant instruction about the bible because religion was an important part of society during that time. The instruction he received as a child became ingrained in him and became very evident in his writing. “There were two possessions of the James Dillingham Young’s in which they both took mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch…. The other was Della’s hair.” (Henry 2) When explaining the sheer beauty of the hair O. Henry writes, “Had the queen of Sheba lived I the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts.” (Henry 2) The queen of Sheba was a biblical figure who was known for looking for signs of wealth, power, and wisdom in a number of different ways. One sign of wisdom the queen of Sheba used was the hair of someone in power. If the person in question has long beautiful hair they are wise. This was the case in particular with another biblical figure named Samson who deprecated her wealth. “Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck his beard with envy.” (Henry 2) King Solomon was known for his abundance of treasures especially after the plethora of gifts the queen of Sheba gave him. When someone else had a treasure worth more than King Solomon’s he would become envious. The envy shown from King Solomon was the source of the comparison used by O. Henry in “The Gift of the Magi”. The magi are another important aspect of O. Henry’s story that doubles as a biblical reference. In the Bible the magi are kings who come to the manger and present Jesus gifts, in this case of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The practice of giving loved ones gifts on Christmas originated from the gifts the Magi gave Jesus. Della and Jim went out looking for Christmas gifts for each other and in turn traded in their most prized possessions. In speaking of the wise men O. Henry writes, “Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication”. The gifts the magi brought Jesus were of value no matter how much someone received because gold, frankincense, and myrrh were