Health and safety has been around for many years. Even cavemen will have learned fire safety to a certain extent.
With that being the case, 2000 years ago, three wise men, being wise, would have assessed the risks of following a star thousands of miles across deserts to Bethlehem.
If KSH Safety Services had been around at the time, we could have helped them with their risk assessment. First of all they had no idea where their destination would be. Yes birds navigate by the stars, but these Magi would not have known where this unusual star would take them. I doubt that maps were available then, and certainly Sat Navs were not, so as well as the stars, they would have relied on talking to locals as they passed.
Then there were the camels, if of course that is what they used. Not a bad animal to use, as they are used to desert conditions, providing their welfare was considered. The risk of camel-bourne zoonoses would, however have been high. Diseases that can spread from camels to humans include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), brucellosis, Echinococcus granulosus, and Rift Valley fever. The heavy loads being carried over long distances by the camels must have affected the animal’s welfare.
Then there is human welfare. The Sahara and Arabian Deserts are known to be inhospitable places ... hot and dry during the day, cold at night, so with shelter being a premium, the correct clothing was essential. Carrying enough food (and carrying it so it would not spoil in the heat) and safe drinking water would add to the problems. Hot temperatures would mean that water was a premium luxury, and it’s shortage could have led to dehydration.
Dehydration can lead to digestive problems, constipation, and an overly acidic stomach. This increases the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers. Water is needed in the processes of sweating and removal of urine and faeces. A lack of water can cause blood to become thicker, increasing blood pressure.
Then there are rivers and seas to cross. A star would go the direct route not necessarily the easiest way for travellers. Two thousand years ago, boats would not have been the safest, especially if transporting animals as well.
Three people probably speaking a different language, with different customs would have attracted deep suspicion in the towns they visited, especially carrying expensive and exotic gifts. The risk of robbery must also have been high.
And while even now a gift of gold would be appreciated by many, there are risks with frankincense and myrrh.
Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from Boswellia trees, which are native to the Middle East. Traditional healers use it to treat health conditions like indigestion, coughing and other breathing problems, and even recovery from childbirth.
Applying undiluted frankincense oil to your skin may cause inflammation, irritation, or burning. Ingesting frankincense oil or its extract, boswellia, isn't advisable. ... If you're taking anticoagulants or antiplatelet drugs, boswellia may increase your risk of bleeding. It is also carcinogenic.
Myrrh is a natural gum or resin extracted from a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora. Myrrh resin has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense, and medicine. Myrrh mixed with wine can also be ingested.
Myrrh is used for indigestion, ulcers, colds, cough, asthma, lung congestion, arthritis pain, cancer, leprosy, spasms, and syphilis. It is also used as a stimulant and to increase menstrual flow.
Myrrh is applied directly to the mouth for soreness and swelling, inflamed gums (gingivitis), loose teeth, canker sores, bad breath, and chapped lips. It is also used topically for hemorrhoids, bedsores, wounds, abrasions, and boils.
Myrrh however has side effects, and is certainly not suitable to be given as a gift to a young breast feeding mother, as it can cause bleeding in the uterus.
Surely more suitable gifts would have been rattles, baby clothes or similar.
So with many risks, the question to ask is this: were the Three Kings really wise men? Did they consider the consequences of their journey and gifts? We will never know.
This Christmas, remember that when buying gifts, you consider the suitability of them for the recipient, and when out celebrating, you consider all the risks around you and have a safe, happy and healthy festive season.