Skip to comments.3 wise men, fact & lore
Posted on 12/19/2013 5:53:03 AM PST by Graybeard58
NASHVILLE (BP) -- It wouldn't be Christmas without the wise men. They show up in nativity scenes, Christmas plays, carols, tree ornaments and paintings.
Everyone knows about them: There were three wise men, they rode camels and they brought their gifts to the baby Jesus as He lay in a manger.
The Bible, however, doesn't tell us any of these presumed facts about the wise men, other than they brought gifts to Jesus. The rest is holiday lore that accumulated over the centuries, which too many have assumed is in the Bible.
The only biblical mention of the wise men (magoi in Greek, which translates into Latin as magi) occurs in Matthew 2:1-16, where we're not told how many there were, only that they came from "the east," where they had seen a star, to find the "king of the Jews." (Some people assumed there were three because they brought three gifts. Later Christian tradition assigned them the names Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar.) The Bible tells us that Herod was frightened by a potential rival to his throne and tried to use the wise men as informants to learn Jesus' whereabouts and kill Him. But after finding and worshipping the Christ child, they thwarted Herod's plan by bypassing him on their way home, being warned to do so in a dream from God.
Contrary to the image portrayed in most nativity scenes, Jesus likely was between 1 and 2 years old when the magi arrived. Matthew provides at least three clues suggesting this. First, he calls Jesus a "child" (2:9, 11) rather than a "baby" in the story of the wise men. Second, Matthew says Jesus and Mary were in a house at the time of the wise men's visit (2:11) with no attendant reference to "the manger" which was so central when Jesus was first born. Third, apparently based on the date that the magi's guiding star appeared, Herod executed all boys in Bethlehem ages 2 and under (2:16), hinting that the sign of Jesus' birth appeared two years before their arrival.
And what about the wise men's country of origin? Babylonia and Persia are perhaps the two most popular speculations. Originally, "magi" was the name of the Persian priestly caste, but later the term was used more generally to describe magicians and astrologers (see Acts 13:6). Most countries in western Asia had magi in this broader sense, but Babylonia had developed a particularly sophisticated system of astrology by the first century. Another fact suggesting a Babylonian origin is the wise men's apparent knowledge of Judaism and its expectation of a coming king -- knowledge readily available in a land where the Jews were once exiles. Ultimately though, we can only guess where the wise men came from (and some have suggested lands as far away as India and China).
Another mystery is the star that guided the magi to Jesus. Many have attempted to explain it with astronomy. Origen of Alexandria and other early theorists viewed the star as a comet while later thinkers, including Johannes Kepler, explained it as a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation Pisces in the year 7 B.C. More probably though, the star's appearance was a supernatural act of God.
Of course, all this speculation is intriguing and has a place in Christian scholarship. Still, we should not let it overshadow the most important realities of the wise men's visit: In the earliest days of Jesus' life, God the Father was already drawing Gentiles to come and worship Him as a foreshadowing of the Great Commission when He would call Christians to make disciples of all nations.
Greybeard...I try to stay out of discussions like this but I am going to jump in this morning. I would ask anyone interested in the truth behind the wise men and not the tradition to do two studies...one on the history of Israel which can be found in the Old Testament and then a study on Church history. Granted this will be a long study but if you want to know the Truth, that traditional Christianity has not taught us, then this study is imperative. You will be amazed but as my one “cradle roll Baptist” friends said, after her studies, she said she felt like it was “being born again, again.” May Yahweh bless your research.
Much is made of the STAR that guided them as if it were ‘special’. Yet we know that sailors navigate the immense oceans of the Earth using the same technique. .
IMHO, if these KINGS were truly wise men, they traveled during the day, and would only use the STAR at night as they camped to prepare the next day’s ‘heading’.
The SOUTHERN CROSS is a popular constellation of stars that were used for thousands of years to navigate. It works on land or water, so using a STAR to navigate long distances was the NORM back then.
As far as this being a STAR (Or something) that GOD put in the sky to ‘guide’ the wise men..... well... didn’t GOD put them ALL there ?
They were followers of the teachings of Daniel. (Read the Book of Daniel).
The biblical account states there were wise men (plural), so all we can infer from that is there were at least two.
The Planetarium, in NYC, used to have a great Christmas show trying to explain “the Star”. Showing the skies during the the period, 1AD - 7AD- included the “conjunction”. Ended wonderfully
I also usually infer that they were at least somwhat acquainted, and didn’t just happen to meet up when following the star, which does seem to indicate they all came from the same region since I doubt magi from India and China got together very often.
It is one of those details I hope one day that companion documents can shed some light on. Perhaps someone during the time was thoughtful enough to write down who they were.
Herod seemed to know they were important, so they likely were not obscure individuals. Perhaps Herod kept some long lost records of such people who passed through the land and what their business was.
If only the Middle East allowed more archeology. Who knows what’s hiding under the sand.
I suspect a lot has been unearthed and has been “kept’ from us.
I have always believed that there were more than two or three. A small party entering Jerusalem (which always had pilgrims coming and going) would be no big deal. It would take a large contingent of foreign dignitaries entering Jerusalem to be noticed by King Herod, or his advisors. Also, it would be unsafe traveling in a small group from Babylon (or any other distant kingdom) without plenty of men for protection, and supplies for the long journey.
As a Jewish man living under God’s Covenant, and a trained carpenter, Joseph and Mary were not broke. Moving into a house after the birth should be no surprise since they were unable to get a room because of the census, not because of lack of funds. Moving suddenly to Egypt, however, would be difficult and expensive. Long before the need was even known, God had made provision for them via the wise men and their gifts.
God is so good!
It's wonderful that as Christians, we'll know it all some day, from the ultimate Authority.
Padanaram is the country about Haran, in what is now just a very little above the mid-center of the Turkey/Syrian border. That is where Abraham sent Eliezer back to find a wife for Isaac, and where Jacob went in his flight from the wrath of Esau. It is also where Balak went to get a prophet to cast a spell on the Israelites:
"And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel" (Num 23:7 AV).
"Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east" (Gen_29:1 AV).
(Jacob went back to Haran, the same place from which his mother Rebkah came, and from which is grandfather Abraham and grandmother Sarah came; which is Padanaram, the land of the people of the east.)
It is also where many of the sons of Jacob were born and lived as little children. Doubtless Jacob and Leah had many tales to tell to these children. Rachel also figured into the story of the departure of Jesus into Egypt.
And also doubtless that Laban had many tales to tell of his manipulations of the sly Jacob and his daughters and servants, who left him high and dry, and went back to Canaan.
"And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram" (Gen_35:26 AV).
"These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three" (Gen_46:15 AV).
Certainly, Adam's language (now Hebrew/Aramaic) were preserved through Noah in the region around Lake Van and Mt. Ararat, though other languages came out of it, and so confused that many people departed into other areas far from this cultural center. We do not need to know where Eden was, but it is very important to know where the post-flood culture's roost was. That is also where the thread of seeking wisdom leads to, which is now near the Turkish Province of SanliUrfa.
Hope these are defining clues to be investigated as to the Kings of the East, which is very near to what is now the Turkey/Iran (Persian) border. This region did not have the Parsi/Indian language, but some other. Biblically, it would be Parsi that would have its roots in the language of Noah, not vice versa. Noah's tongue was that of Adam, and it is quite reasonable to show that The God and Adam conversed in the providentially established language now known as also that of Eber and Aram.
It will explain all of this in GREAT Detail!
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