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History of the Magi: Who were the Wise Men?
Bill Pietro ^ | December 16, 2013 | BILL PETRO

Posted on 12/16/2013 3:25:09 PM PST by NYer

HISTORY OF THE WISE MEN

You’re familiar with the song that begins “We Three Kings of Orient Are…” but it is inaccurate in at least three ways. We don’t know how many there were, but we know they weren’t kings. They did not originate in the Orient, meaning the Far East.

So how could they have seen the star “in the East” and arrived in Jerusalem unless they they had begun their journey somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea? It says in the Gospel of Matthew 2:2 “We saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.” One easy explanation is to see it in the sense of “We saw his star when we were in the east and have come from the east to worship him.”

A number of traditions places their number at three, with the presumption of three gifts for three givers: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But some earlier traditions make quite a caravan of their visit, setting their number as high as twelve.

The term Magi — from the plural of the Greek word magos — is usually translated wise men, astrologers, or magicians (the word “magic” comes from magi). “The East,” has been variously identified as any country from Arabia to Media and Persia, but usually no further east than Persia.

What we know about their origin suggests either Mesopotamian or Persian origins for the magi, who were known to be an old and powerful priestly caste among both the Medes and Persians. These priest-sages who were extremely well educated for their day, were specialists in a variety of disciplines, including medicine, religion, astronomy, astrology, divination, and magic, and their caste eventually spread across much of the East. As in any profession, there were both good and bad magi, depending on whether they did research in the sciences or practiced the dark arts of augury, necromancy, and magic. The Persian magi at least were credited with higher religious and intellectual attainments, while the Babylonian magi were sometimes deemed impostors. The safest conclusion is that the Magi of Christmas were Persian, for the term originated among the Medo-Persians, and early Syriac traditions give them Persian names.

Primitive Christian art in the second-century Roman Catacombs of Pricilla which I have visited outside of Rome, dresses them in Persian garments, and a majority of early church fathers interpret them as Persians.

The Church of the Nativity was built in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine‘s mother St. Helena upon the traditional site in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, and indeed it is the only major church in the Holy Land that survives intact from the early Christian period. In 614, the church had a narrow escape. A Sassanian army from Persia had invaded the Holy Land and proceeded to destroy all the churches. However, they desisted at Bethlehem because they recognized the images of their ancestors, the Magi, above the entrance to the Church of the Nativity in Persian headdress. This account makes sense by virtue of the fact that the Magi were traditionally represented in early Christian art as Zoroastrian priests.


TOPICS: History; Religion & Culture; Religion & Science
KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs; johanneskepler; magi; shepherds; starofbethlehem; staroftheeast

1 posted on 12/16/2013 3:25:09 PM PST by NYer
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...

Catholic ping!


2 posted on 12/16/2013 3:25:41 PM PST by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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To: NYer

No Obamaslime voters there, for sure.


3 posted on 12/16/2013 3:31:31 PM PST by Da Coyote
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To: NYer

This will explain a lot on that subject ,,,

Who Were the Magi?
http://www.ldolphin.org/magi.html

A quote from it ...

The Entourage to Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, the sudden appearance of the Magi, probably traveling in force with all imaginable oriental pomp and accompanied by an adequate cavalry escort to insure their safe penetration of Roman territory, certainly alarmed Herod and the populace of Jerusalem.

It would seem as if these Magi were attempting to perpetrate a border incident which could bring swift reprisal from Parthian armies. Their request of Herod regarding the one who “has been born King of the Jews” (7) was a calculated insult to him, a non—Jew (8) who had contrived and bribed his way into that office.

Consulting his scribes, Herod discovered from the prophecies in the Tanach (the Old Testament) that the Promised One, the Messiah, would be born in Bethlehem. (9) Hiding his concern and expressing sincere interest, Herod requested them to keep him informed.

After finding the babe and presenting their prophetic gifts, the Magi “being warned in a dream” (a form of communication most acceptable to them) departed to their own country, ignoring Herod’s request. (Within two years Phraataces, the parricide son of Phraates IV, was duly installed by the Magi as the new ruler of Parthia.)


4 posted on 12/16/2013 3:31:35 PM PST by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: NYer
Either they were:

Or:


5 posted on 12/16/2013 3:36:09 PM PST by Lmo56 (If ya wanna run with the big dawgs - ya gotta learn to piss in the tall grass ...)
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To: NYer

The only renditions I’ve seen of the wise men have shown them wearing turbans.........Were they muslims?


6 posted on 12/16/2013 3:36:56 PM PST by Hot Tabasco (Miss Muffit suffered from arachnophobia.....)
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To: Hot Tabasco

LOL ... there were no Muslims at that time ... :-) ...


7 posted on 12/16/2013 3:44:28 PM PST by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: Hot Tabasco

If they were, they were about 6 centuries too early.


8 posted on 12/16/2013 3:45:21 PM PST by Campion ("Social justice" begins in the womb)
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To: Hot Tabasco

Every time I have seen them in the last 20 years, at least one is a Negro.


9 posted on 12/16/2013 3:46:01 PM PST by yarddog (Romans 8: verses 38 and 39. "For I am persuaded".)
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To: NYer
Maybe these three?

On second thought, one of them, would not had made it to Jerusalem. Since Reggie wasn't there, he would be taking care of his camel in the desert.

Yeah, I'm crude. It is a direct reaction to Obama. For every action there is ....

10 posted on 12/16/2013 3:46:41 PM PST by ConservativeInPA (We need to fundamentally transform RATs lives for their lies.)
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To: yarddog

Wait until the Wise Latina suddenly appears.


11 posted on 12/16/2013 3:49:36 PM PST by TADSLOS (The Event Horizon has come and gone. Buckle up and hang on.)
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To: Lmo56
Found one of em.


12 posted on 12/16/2013 3:49:42 PM PST by atomic_dog
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To: NYer
Yo, that's "PRISCILLA
13 posted on 12/16/2013 3:56:36 PM PST by Kenny Bunk (OK, Obama be bad. Now where's OUR Program, Plan, and Leader?)
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To: NYer

There was Larry, Moe and Curly.
Everyone knows this. It is in the Book of Stooge....nyuck nyuck nyuck


14 posted on 12/16/2013 4:07:15 PM PST by minnesota_bound
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To: Da Coyote

Since they were called wise men, we know for sure they were not nor would they ever be democrats.


15 posted on 12/16/2013 4:18:28 PM PST by goat granny
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To: NYer

I read this account recently:

“No shepherds nor any other mortal creatures came to pay homage to the babe of Bethlehem until the day of the arrival of certain priests from Ur, who were sent down from Jerusalem by Zacharias.”

“These priests from Mesopotamia had been told sometime before by a strange religious teacher of their country that he had had a dream in which he was informed that “the light of life” was about to appear on earth as a babe and among the Jews. And thither went these three teachers looking for this “light of life.” After many weeks of futile search in Jerusalem, they were about to return to Ur when Zacharias met them and disclosed his belief that Jesus was the object of their quest and sent them on to Bethlehem, where they found the babe and left their gifts with Mary, his earth mother. The babe was almost three weeks old at the time of their visit.”

“...But the watchers for Herod were not inactive. When they reported to him the visit of the priests of Ur to Bethlehem, Herod summoned these Chaldeans to appear before him. He inquired diligently of these wise men about the new “king of the Jews,” but they gave him little satisfaction, explaining that the babe had been born of a woman who had come down to Bethlehem with her husband for the census enrollment. Herod, not being satisfied with this answer, sent them forth with a purse and directed that they should find the child so that he too might come and worship him, since they had declared that his kingdom was to be spiritual, not temporal. But when the wise men did not return, Herod grew suspicious.”


16 posted on 12/16/2013 4:20:54 PM PST by concentric circles
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To: NYer

I’ve heard that these guys were the heirs/descendants/students of the guys who were taught by the prophet Daniel during the time of the captivity and they knew what was up.


17 posted on 12/16/2013 4:24:10 PM PST by OKSooner ("Like, cosmic, man.")
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To: NYer

An interesting read but it unfairly nitpicks at the song “We Three Kings”, which was published in 1863, at a time when just about anywhere in the middle east could be considered the “Orient” Take for instance, the Orient Express, a train that ran from Paris to Istanbul via Vienna 1883-1961. While “Orient” does mean East, it’s all relative, isn’t it? To the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who living in New York City, would find even Bethlehem a bit easterly.

It’s a nice song, not scripture.


18 posted on 12/16/2013 4:56:47 PM PST by Colorado Doug (Now I know how the Indians felt to be sold out for a few beads and trinkets)
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To: NYer
This website is by far the best and most comprehensive analysis of the Star of Bethlehem that I've ever seen:

Star of Bethlehem

It looks at the issue from Scriptural, historical and astronomical perspectives and reaches some very interesting conclusions. First and foremost is that the Magi weren't exactly "following" a star in the sky for navigation -- and the Gospels contain some obvious evidence for that.* Instead, they were witnessing a series of celestial events that unfolded in the night sky over the course of many months.

* -- The primary evidence for this is two-fold: (1) Scripture says that the Magi "followed" the star to Bethlehem after visiting Herod's court in Jerusalem, but Bethlehem is only a few miles from Jerusalem and they surely wouldn't have needed any directions to get there; and (2) the star couldn't have been an something in plain sight in the sky like a comet or supernova, because Herod had to ask the scholars in his court to explain it to him -- which means it wasn't something obvious that he could have looked up and seen.

19 posted on 12/16/2013 4:58:54 PM PST by Alberta's Child ("I've never seen such a conclave of minstrels in my life.")
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To: NYer

Here is an interesting side note to the magi. How did they know to associate an astronomical event in the near east skies to a Judean king being or having recently been born?
The only recorded event in the Bible that comes to my mind is that about 500 years before this astronomical event was Daniel, a Judean captive taken to Babylon during the first siege of Jerusalem. With God’s help in interpretation of dreams Daniel so impresses Nebu’ that Nebu’ puts Daniel in charge of all the magi in the Babylonian province. (Daniel 2: 48) KJV.
Approximately 500 years later Persian/Parthian magi show up in Judea and say “Where is he who was born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the rising and have come to pay homage to him. (Mat.2:2) REV
How would they know?
I think Daniel gave them what to look for and where to look, passed from magi-to-magi till that day.
God is Great.
Jesus Christ is THE MAN.


20 posted on 12/16/2013 5:06:38 PM PST by Doulos1 (Bitter Clinger Forever!)
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To: Colorado Doug; NYer

Yes, in the Hellenistic world, Persians were considered Orientals. Once the Byzantine Empire fell, most Europeans considered the Middle East “Oriental.” “Orient” is derived from the Latin word for “East.”


21 posted on 12/16/2013 5:13:31 PM PST by colorado tanker
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To: Lmo56

Larry Moe and Curly or Manny Moe and Jack.


22 posted on 12/16/2013 5:34:03 PM PST by OldEagle
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To: NYer

Most likely Hebrews from the Dispersion still living in Persia, or, “Beyond the river.”


23 posted on 12/16/2013 5:34:55 PM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: NYer
History of the Magi: Who were the Wise Men?
Why “Celebrate” Christmas—and the Epiphany?
On Christmas and Epiphany
Happy Epiphany! ...sort of
6th January, The Epiphany of Our Lord
St. John Chrysostom's Homily for the Feast of the Theophany (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
Wise Men from the East and the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord [Ecumenical]
Ancient Document Sheds New Light on Magi Story
The Epiphany of the Lord
Straight Answers: Who Were the Magi?

OU Professor Says Ancient Text Reveals Startling Information About Magi, Star of Bethlehem
The Gift of the Magi
Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh On the Feast of the Epiphany
FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY (THEOPHANY) OF OUR LORD - January 6, 2010
New security as pope leads Mass for Epiphany
The Magi and the Star -- Epiphany Explored
Three Kings festivities in full swing around [Puerto Rico]
"A strange mingling of light and shadow..." On the Feast of Epiphany
Wise Men from the East -- Epiphany

The Feast of the Epiphany
The Magi and the Star
The Secret Life of the Magi Kings [Epiphany]
Wise Men from the East [Ecumenical - with a question]
Feast of the Epiphany (2)
Feast of the Epiphany (1)
Epiphany (when the Gentile visitors brought gifts) [Ecumenical]
Twelfth Night [Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany]
A Christmas Pilgrimage (maintaining Christmas until Epiphany)
Christmastide and Epiphany

Epiphany Revealed (Did the Wise Men Really Have Names?)
For the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord 'Three Kings' Seek, Find, and Worship the Lord
The Universal King
Helena's (Mother of Constantine) Epiphany Meditation
EPIPHANY - THREE KINGS - January 6 (Holy Day of Obligation)
The Epiphany of the Roman Primacy
Thousands watch teens dive for the cross in Tarpon Springs
The Season of Epiphany
Tarpon Springs Celebrates Epiphany
100th Epiphany Day Event Will Be Global Celebration

Patriarch Adds To Epiphany Pomp
Ready for "Little Christmas"?
The Magi and the Host
Another Christian Holiday Celebrated
Christmas and Epiphany
India's Zoroastrians and the Three Kings for Jesus
Journeying with the Magi
Who Were The Magi?
Were the Magi who visited Jesus -- Persian?
The Journey of the Magi

24 posted on 12/16/2013 6:00:39 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer

A letter written by the Synod of Jerusalem in A.D. 836 contains a story about an incident that occurred in A.D. 614 when the Persian army invaded the Holy Land destroying Christian Churches. When they came to the Basilica in Bethlehem, they refused to destroy it because of a mosaic depicting the Magi, which were dressed like them – Persians. In Persian writings in the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, 7:1, there is a reference to the Magi (Wise Men), coming to Jerusalem to worship an infant born to a virgin, the son having power to raise the dead, and defeat the forces of evil.

Did the Wise Men come from Arabia? The Wise Men mentioned by Matthew are also mentioned in Isaiah 60:6 and Psalm 72:15, mentioning people coming from Sheba, a country of southwest Arabia bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.

Did the Wise Men come from Babylon? The Babylonians were noted astronomers, well ahead of their time, and studied the night sky intensely, and would have almost immediately noticed the appearance of the Christmas Star. There was a strong Jewish influence in Babylon due to their capture, and the fact that a number of Jews stayed in Babylon after the Exile in the 6th Century, B.C.

http://www.main.nc.us/graham/mcclung/Wise%20Men.html

We don’t really know. We don’t even know if there were just three of them.


25 posted on 12/16/2013 6:08:46 PM PST by Viennacon
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To: Doulos1

That’s my take too.


26 posted on 12/16/2013 6:15:02 PM PST by keats5 (Not all of us are hypnotized.)
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To: yarddog
Every time I have seen them in the last 20 years, at least one is a Negro.

That is because there is a very old tradition that one of them was black.

Probably the one from India.

27 posted on 12/16/2013 6:21:12 PM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear (Proud Infidel, Gun Nut, Religious Fanatic and Freedom Fiend)
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To: NYer; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ..
Thanks NYer. See also the "staroftheeast" keyword.

28 posted on 12/16/2013 6:32:12 PM PST by SunkenCiv (http://www.freerepublic.com/~mestamachine/)
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To: NYer

Asimov’s Guide to the New Testament states that the Persian priests of the ancient Zoroastrian religion were called “magu”, which in Latin becomes “magi”. Sages and Holy men, it was at one time recorded that the first group of Magi attempted first to undermine Herod’s relationship with the Romans to topple him from his throne (to make way for the Christ) and that this backfired and proved to be the cause of the slaughter of the Innocents as recorded in the Good Book. Additional sources indicate that between the first group and second that there were Chaldean, Persian, Egyptian and Oriental sages represented. Some of the more ancient written papyrus documents that cover this material may be made available from the Vatican archives at the behest of scholars in the not too distant future, showing a link between the magi and the wife of Herod and the tragedy of the Slaughter of the Innocents more fully detailed.


29 posted on 12/16/2013 6:58:16 PM PST by februus
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To: OldEagle
Larry Moe and Curly or Manny Moe and Jack.

Shemp and Curly Joe always get left out ...

30 posted on 12/16/2013 8:14:53 PM PST by Lmo56 (If ya wanna run with the big dawgs - ya gotta learn to piss in the tall grass ...)
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To: OKSooner

I’ve seen that explanation as well. Daniel had been chosen to head the Magi order, and so they preserved his writings. His 70 Weeks prophecy told them when to look for the Messiah.

Israel sat on the border of the Roman and the Parthian Empires and Chuck Missler thinks that the Magi would have arrived as a large semi-military expedition from the Parthia.


31 posted on 12/16/2013 10:01:38 PM PST by Pelham (Obamacare, the vanguard of Obammunism)
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To: Lmo56

Manny Moe and Jack are the Pep Boys


32 posted on 12/17/2013 1:43:45 AM PST by OldEagle
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To: NYer
A better bet is that the Magi were from Padanaram. The area is the region where Noah landed at Mt. Ararat, east of Lake Van from which (Biblically) modern civilization spread, and which was the repository of antediluvian wisdom. That would not be far from todays Turkey/Iran border.

This is the "east" from which Abraham came, per Jewish tradition.

It is worthy of note that the Magi probably did not require translators and did not require another alphabet (as might have the Persians speaking the Parsi of that day); whereas those of upper Aram (from the northern Syria/Haran/Urfa table-land, center of Syria/Turkey border) would have spoken the Semitic Aramaic, and at least knew the Hebrew alphabet of the day.

Take a look at the area around Sanliurfa (Note the emphasis on "Ur"):

Map of Turkey area

(More later)

33 posted on 12/17/2013 4:01:40 AM PST by imardmd1 (Fiat Lux)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
Most likely Hebrews from the Dispersion still living in Persia, or, “Beyond the river.”

I don't think so, because Hebrews of the Babylonian Shul would not have needed the Micah 5:2 reference. They would certainly have anticipated the Bethlehem location. But if they were Syran, they would not need a transltor, either; and id they were of the pre-Noah-origin wisdom, they might well be of the Padan-Aram location.

34 posted on 12/17/2013 4:13:41 AM PST by imardmd1 (Fiat Lux)
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To: concentric circles
No shepherds nor any other mortal creatures came to pay homage to the babe of Bethlehem until the day of the arrival of certain priests from Ur, who were sent down from Jerusalem by Zacharias.

Hmmm...

According to the Bible, in Luke 1, Zacharias was the father of John the Baptist. No where in the New Testament does Zacharias send anyone to see Jesus.

In Matthew 2, it only says that when Jesus was born, there came three wise men from the East into Jerusalem.

Where did you get that information that Zacharias sent the wise men?

It looks like it came from the Urantia book. (See: Birth of Jesus. Part 7 - Jesus, babe of Bethlehem & The Urantia Book)

Personally, I would not consider the Urantia Book an authoritative source of Biblical information.

35 posted on 12/17/2013 9:34:58 AM PST by Ol' Dan Tucker (People should not be afraid of the government. Government should be afraid of the people)
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To: Ol' Dan Tucker

Thanks, I appreciate your intentions though I must confess that your comments regarding an authoritative source of Biblical information prompted a chuckle on my part because of their appearance on a thread that includes citations to various unnamed sources, a song, unattributed Greek etymology, an anonymous artist, and a variety of unsourced traditions; to say nothing of numerous references to the three stooges.

As for the Urantia Book, I have read much of it with a critical eye and at the end of the day I remain impressed by it’s scope, it’s detail, and it’s inspirational value. The Bible stands on its own, external sources can neither add to it nor detract from it. Our understanding and appreciation of the Bible’s contents can however, be enhanced by other works, be they scholarly, analytical, or anecdotal, and it is up to each of us to decide whether our understanding has, in fact, been enlarged by other sources or if we have been distracted and misled.

Enlightenment comes in many guises, often unpredictably. Gamaliel spoke wisely to his associates regarding the Apostles, “ ... if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought, but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.”


36 posted on 12/22/2013 2:32:38 PM PST by concentric circles
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