The incense route. “What good is it to me if frankincense is brought from Sheba?” asks God in what some scholars claim to be the earliest biblical reference to incense use in Israelite religious practice (Jeremiah 6:20). “Sheba” refers to a region in the South Arabian peninsula, which is the source of frankincense, the costly component of incense. This map traces the ancient caravan route, which began in Shabwa in southwestern Arabia, passed through the Sheba region and swept directly north parallel to the Red Sea coast through Eilat ending at Gaza. From Eilat the route also branched west to Egypt; from the El-Ola oasis a northward branch carried the incense to Petra and Damascus. At each stop, local rulers imposed taxes; by the time the incense reached the altars of Israel, its price rose beyond the means of all but the wealthiest.