by Rosemarie Adcock
This painting depicts what is referred to as The Epiphany, the time when kings from the east came to find the newborn King, Jesus, which is traditionally celebrated on the 6th of January. Mary holds the Child on her lap as He curiously inspects the fruits in the bowl of an Egyptian king, who holds a rooster and a type of staff used by the kings of the time to signify the dawning of a new era, and the authority of their new rule.
An Asian king also has a bowl of fruits, and all three kings have containers representing the gold, frankincense and myrrh that were the gifts noted in the Apostle Matthew's account of the story. The gift of gold was for a Child who would be King; the frankincense for the prayers He would offer and answer; and the myrrh for the suffering He would endure for us. These three gifts are also why it was thought there were 3 kings who came to visit, though the written account is not specific.
Joseph is seen above Mary, looking at the donkey who will soon be taking them to Egypt in order to escape King Herod's order to kill all the male children 2 years old and under.
The prophecy would thus be fulfilled which said, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”