The Three Magi

Thomas

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Fr Dwight Longenecker has written a book: "Mystery of the Magi"

I only mention this here because Fr Longenecker is no idiot.

Matthew doesn’t say they are kings. He doesn’t say there are three. He doesn’t say they rode camels. He doesn’t say they followed a star, and he doesn’t say they went on a long journey. He simply writes, “Wise men came from the East” (cf Matthew 2:1) – they saw his star. They came to the court of Herod the Great. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Fr Longenecker's book suggests the Wise Men came from the city of Petra in Jordan.

Now the Biblical scholar will say the wise men is a Matthean narrative device brings in the wise men to echo the prophecy of Isaiah 60:5-7:
"For the riches of the sea shall be poured out before you, the wealth of nations shall come to you. Caravans of camels shall cover you, dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and heralding the praises of the LORD. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered for you, the rams of Nebaioth shall serve your needs."

Fr Longenecker looked into it. Midian, Ephah, Kedar and Nebaioth are locations or names of tribes from northwest Arabia. In biblical times the territory was occupied by the Nabateans, who had close links with Herod the Great. Furthermore, their religion was rooted in astrology, and like many peoples from the time, they were looking for a messiah. Longenecker's thesis is that at the time of Jesus’ birth the Nabatean king, Aretas IV, sent diplomats to the court of Herod with rich gifts. Learning of the birth of a new king of the Jews by studying the stars, they set out on their historic journey.

Fr Longenecker traces the extra-Biblical legends surrounding the Magi. Then, having differentiated between the legends and the Scriptural text, he provides a historical survey of the ancient Near East from Persian days to Roman times. He builds a solid argument that what most modern scholars consider the expectable candidates for being the Magi – Zoroastrian scholars from Persia – is unlikely. He develops his theory using both Scripture and secular history, addressing questions like why these Magi would care about the king of the Jews, and what might the star incident might have involved.

According to one review, his well-researched theories demonstrate at least the plausibility of the Gospel account, and even if not 100% accurate (which he never claims), they’re probably much closer to the actual events than any other theories available.https://www.catholicdigest.com/amp/tag/epiphany/
 
So the gospel account? We know not how many, nor from whence they came, nor how far, nor if they came together, nor when they showed up, nor how they heard, decided, if the gifts were specific or taken out a stock that they were delivering to others

What do we know?

And what do you surmise?

(Happened across some old posts from a decade ago, you and I went at it! Lol, do ya think the oily one will come around?
 
So the gospel account? We know not how many, nor from whence they came, nor how far, nor if they came together, nor when they showed up, nor how they heard, decided, if the gifts were specific or taken out a stock that they were delivering to others ... What do we know?
LOL. Next to nothing. Wise men from the East, bringing gifts ... that's about it ...

And what do you surmise?
I think the idea of a shred of truth might lie under a haystack of myth and legend is appealing ... but do I set any great store by it?

Well my 'out there' reading of Christianity, as you might recall, is the union of spirit and matter, so prophecy made actual ... ;)
 
Fr Dwight Longenecker has written a book: "Mystery of the Magi"

I only mention this here because Fr Longenecker is no idiot.

Matthew doesn’t say they are kings. He doesn’t say there are three. He doesn’t say they rode camels. He doesn’t say they followed a star, and he doesn’t say they went on a long journey. He simply writes, “Wise men came from the East” (cf Matthew 2:1) – they saw his star. They came to the court of Herod the Great. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Fr Longenecker's book suggests the Wise Men came from the city of Petra in Jordan.

Now the Biblical scholar will say the wise men is a Matthean narrative device brings in the wise men to echo the prophecy of Isaiah 60:5-7:
"For the riches of the sea shall be poured out before you, the wealth of nations shall come to you. Caravans of camels shall cover you, dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and heralding the praises of the LORD. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered for you, the rams of Nebaioth shall serve your needs."

Fr Longenecker looked into it. Midian, Ephah, Kedar and Nebaioth are locations or names of tribes from northwest Arabia. In biblical times the territory was occupied by the Nabateans, who had close links with Herod the Great. Furthermore, their religion was rooted in astrology, and like many peoples from the time, they were looking for a messiah. Longenecker's thesis is that at the time of Jesus’ birth the Nabatean king, Aretas IV, sent diplomats to the court of Herod with rich gifts. Learning of the birth of a new king of the Jews by studying the stars, they set out on their historic journey.

Fr Longenecker traces the extra-Biblical legends surrounding the Magi. Then, having differentiated between the legends and the Scriptural text, he provides a historical survey of the ancient Near East from Persian days to Roman times. He builds a solid argument that what most modern scholars consider the expectable candidates for being the Magi – Zoroastrian scholars from Persia – is unlikely. He develops his theory using both Scripture and secular history, addressing questions like why these Magi would care about the king of the Jews, and what might the star incident might have involved.

According to one review, his well-researched theories demonstrate at least the plausibility of the Gospel account, and even if not 100% accurate (which he never claims), they’re probably much closer to the actual events than any other theories available.https://www.catholicdigest.com/amp/tag/epiphany/

The title "wise men" is translated from the original Greek word magos. The word refers to a priest of the Persian religion Zoroastrianism. These priests, or magi, frequently looked to the stars for signs of the future and gained an international reputation for astrology and revelation/divination.

It is more than probable that the "wise men" were in fact Zoroastrian priests from Persia. And as there was a sizable Jewish presence in Babylon at that time, they obviously studied the old Hebrew scriptures. (Historians estimate that there were about 6-7 million Jews living in the Roman Empire (plus another 1 million from Persia.)

Although the history of the Jews in Iraq in the 5th century BCE is largely unknown, we know that the exiles were allowed to practice their religion while in Persia, and that they would have established schools/colleges in which to teach the children born while they were in exile. The children sired by Israelite Jews to foreign wives were not allowed to return to the land of their fathers, could the magi have been distantly related to them?

The Bible also states that when the magi found the child Jesus, they "fell down and worshiped him." This verse references or indicates bowing, kneeling or prostration, which was generally viewed by both the ancient Jews and Romans as undignified, and in Jewish tradition was reserved for their God alone. However, for Persians, bowing or kneeling was a sign of respect generally directed toward kings.

I believe that the Bible should only be interpreted by the scriptures themselves. The Books of the Bible are like wheels of perfectly interlocking cogs, wheels within wheels, here a little and there a little etc.

Luke tells us that Mary gave birth to her firstborn son in the town of Bethlehem of Judea, as opposed to the Bethlehem, which was about two miles from Nazareth in Galilee, and that eight days after the child was born, it was circumcised and named Jesus. Then thirty-three days later, and before the wise men from the east had come and lavished their gifts of Gold, Frank-incense and mire, on the baby Jesus, he was taken OPENLY to the temple in Jerusalem by his not so financial parents, where his mother performed the purification ceremony, in accordance ‘TO THE TIME’ demanded by the law handed down through Moses.

How do we know that the parents of Jesus were not flushed financially? Again, we must let the Bible reveal that to us, Leviticus 12: 8, "If the woman cannot afford a lamb, she shall bring two doves or pigeons etc," the fact that the birds were offered, shows that they were unable to afford a lamb, and had not yet received the gifts of Gold, etc.

And after they had completed everything in ACCORDANCE TO THE LAW, they returned to their home in Nazareth. Luke makes no mention of any wise men traveling to Bethlehem of Judaea, or of any slaughter of the innocents.
 
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From metaphysical Bible dictionary truthunity.net

Metaphysical meaning of Wise-men (mbd)
Wise-men, from the east (Matt. 2:1).

Meta. The stored-up resources of the soul, which rise to the surface when its depths are stirred by a great spiritual revelation. They are the inner realms of consciousness that, like books of life, have kept the records of past lives and held them in reserve for the great day when the soul would receive the supreme ego, Jesus. These "Wise-men" represent the wisdom that is carried within the soul from previous incarnations. The east represents the within, man's inner consciousness.

They bring gifts to the Christ Child, the inner resources of Spirit, which are open to the Christ mind. Gold represents the riches of Spirit; frankincense, the beauty of Spirit; myrrh, the eternity of Spirit.

The star that the "Wise-men" saw in the east represents intuition; the "Wise-men" were guided by intuition. Stars represent subjective and not fully understood guiding lights.
 
From metaphysical Bible dictionary truthunity.net

Metaphysical meaning of Wise-men (mbd)
Wise-men, from the east (Matt. 2:1).

Matthew 2: 1-2; According to the inspired word of God:
Meta. The stored-up resources of the soul, which rise to the surface when its depths are stirred by a great spiritual revelation. They are the inner realms of consciousness that, like books of life, have kept the records of past lives and held them in reserve for the great day when the soul would receive the supreme ego, Jesus. These "Wise-men" represent the wisdom that is carried within the soul from previous incarnations. The east represents the within, man's inner consciousness.

They bring gifts to the Christ Child, the inner resources of Spirit, which are open to the Christ mind. Gold represents the riches of Spirit; frankincense, the beauty of Spirit; myrrh, the eternity of Spirit.

The star that the "Wise-men" saw in the east represents intuition; the "Wise-men" were guided by intuition. Stars represent subjective and not fully understood guiding lights.

1. Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. And behold later some men who studied the stars came from the east to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him.”

The men from the east, believed that the promised Messiah of Israel had been born.

When King Herod heard about this, he was very upset, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the teachers of the Law and asked them, “Where will the Messiah be born?” “In the town of Bethlehem in Judea,” they answered. “For this is what the prophet wrote: ‘Bethlehem in the land of Judah,you are by no means the least of the leading cities of Judah; for from you will come a leader who will guide my people Israel.’

So Herod called the visitors from the east to a secret meeting and found out from them the EXACT time the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem with these instructions: “Go and make a careful search for the child, and when you find him, let me know, so that I too may go and worship him.”

But they didn't go to Bethlehem of Judea wil. When they left the palace of Herod, the star that they had seen in the east appeared once again and OH what joy was theirs and following in the direction of the hairy star in the North-East it led them to the 'HOUSE' in Nazareth in which the family lived.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves, let us begin at the beginning.

Most historians agree that Herod the Great died in the spring of 4 B.C., and the biblical students believe that Jesus was around two years old at that time, and therefore would have been born sometime in 6 B.C. It is also prophesied that a heavenly sign would herald the birth of the promised Messiah.

As it was prophesied, that a heavenly event would herald the birth of the promised Messiah, we must now ask if there was any significant heavenly event in 6 BC.

I could use any of a number of authorities to supply evidence of the 6 BC triple conjunction of the "King Planet" Jupiter, with Mars, the “God of War” and Saturn the “God of Time,” who brings the golden age of peace to the earth, which I believe was read by the wise men as the sign that was prophesied to herald the birth of the promised King, (Jupiter the king planet) who was to succeed to the throne of David the warrior king, (Mars the god of war) as the prophesied Messianic King of Israel, who is to come and subdue the surrounding Nations and bring in the golden Age of one thousand years of peace. (Saturn.)

Astronomy, Astrology, and the Star of Bethlehem." BY John Clevenger of the Lake Country Astronomical Society," which says as follows, "Did any unusual astronomical phenomenon occur between 8 and 2 BC? (Apart from the triple conjunction in 6 B. C.) As it happens there were several notable celestial events during that period. The Chinese astronomical records, which have proved very reliable, reported two comets during that time. The comet of 5 BC which was visible for 70 days, was reported to have a tail. Professor Humphreys of Cambridge University believes that this comet, which he describes as having a vertical tail, appeared at the time of the Jewish Passover. Professor Humpherys believed that it was this comet which started the Magi, who were knowledgeable of the Jewish prophecy recorded in the book of Micah, concerning the birth of a Jewish king, on their journey.

If right about the vertical tail, this could agree with the biblical account in Matthew that the "Star Stood Over" [THE HOUSE] where the young child was" as the term “STOOD OVER” in ancient literature, according to Professor Humphreys of Cambridge University, refers to comets and comets only.

The comet of 4 BC had no tail and whether it was a comet or a nova is unknown. If it was a nova in 4 BC, which is the death of a star, it would have coincided with the death of Herod the Great in that same year. While historians have usually suggested that comets were always bad omens. Humphreys believes that history shows them to be either good or bad omens.

All short period comets which re-appear every two hundred years or less, have their aphelia in the orbit of Jupiter and even up until relatively recent times, those short period comets were thought to have been created from material ejected from the King Planet Jupiter and were called the family of Jupiter.

The comet of early 5 B.C., would have been captured by the gravitation pull of Jupiter the King Planet, and In My Opinion, would have been seen as the child born of the glorious expanded body of Jupiter the king planet, and it was this that supposedly set the wise men on their Journey to Israel.

Knowing the short attention span that many have, I will continue this in another post.
 
The title "wise men" is translated from the original Greek word magos. The word refers to a priest of the Persian religion Zoroastrianism. These priests, or magi, frequently looked to the stars for signs of the future and gained an international reputation for astrology and revelation/divination.
Yes, and there's good reason to suppose so.

While Matthew translates as 'wise man', the same word in Acts is translated as sorcerer. The term in Greek is more generic, referring to magicians, sorcerers, etc., and not strictly Zoroastrians, but none of that need detract from the Zoroastrian reading of the legend.

The Bible also states that when the magi found the child Jesus, they "fell down and worshiped him." This verse references or indicates bowing, kneeling or prostration, which was generally viewed by both the ancient Jews and Romans as undignified, and in Jewish tradition was reserved for their God alone. However, for Persians, bowing or kneeling was a sign of respect generally directed toward kings.
OK, but the author is writing from a Syriac Jewish perspective, he would not necessarily know – or expects his readership to know – Persian Zoroastrian practice? Occam's razor would suggest the more likely reading that this refers to multiple references of obesience towards God in the Hebrew scriptures.

Luke tells us ... thirty-three days later, and before the wise men from the east had come ... Luke makes no mention of any wise men traveling to Bethlehem of Judaea, or of any slaughter of the innocents.
No, he does not. The event could have happened any time up to about two years after the nativity.
 
Yes, and there's good reason to suppose so.

While Matthew translates as 'wise man', the same word in Acts is translated as sorcerer. The term in Greek is more generic, referring to magicians, sorcerers, etc., and not strictly Zoroastrians, but none of that need detract from the Zoroastrian reading of the legend.


OK, but the author is writing from a Syriac Jewish perspective, he would not necessarily know – or expects his readership to know – Persian Zoroastrian practice? Occam's razor would suggest the more likely reading that this refers to multiple references of obesience towards God in the Hebrew scriptures.


No, he does not. The event could have happened any time up to about two years after the nativity.

When the baby was 8 days old, it was circumcised and named Jesus and 33 days later the family went to the temple in Jerusalem where Mary performed the ceremony of purification according to the time set by Moses, after which they returned to their home in Nazareth, this was six weeks after the birth of Jesus and it was OVER twelve month after the birth of Jesus that the wise men arrived in Jerusalem, anywhere between six or twelve months after the family had returned to Nazareth. So those who believed their Saint Constantine’s mother, their ‘Saint Helena’ into believing that the wise men visited the holy family in the manger in Bethlehem, are simply gullible people who are ignorant to the truths as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

How long was it before the wise men, after seeing the comet early in the spring of 5 BC, which is believed to have been the inspiration for them to travel to Jerusalem, decided that they should go to pay homage to the heir of that throne, and to organize that trip? And how long did it take them to travel from Mesopotamia to Jerusalem?

The only help that we receive from the Bible is found in Ezra 7: 8-9; "They (Ezra and his group) left Babylonia on the first day of the first month, and with God’s help they arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month."

Four months, or 16 weeks it took them to travel to Jerusalem. Even if we halve that time and take into account that the comet which inspired them to travel to Jerusalem had not appeared until sometime after the triple conjunction of 6 BC, which had heralded the birth of Jesus, there is no possible way that the wise men could have seen the baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem of Judaea, as the family (According to Luke) had returned to Nazareth some six weeks after the birth of the child in Bethlehem.

On bright moonlit or cloudy nights or dust storms, the comet would be hidden from view, and apparently this was what had happened before they reached Jerusalem and went to the Palace of Herod the Great, expecting to find there, the heir to the throne of the Jews, and asked Herod; Matthew 2: 2- “Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2: 7; So Herod called the visitors from the east to a secret meeting and found out from them the exact time that the star had appeared, etc.

After revealing to Herod in 4 B.C., the exact time that they had seen the heavenly sign that had heralded the birth of the promised Messiah, we read in Matthew 2: 16; it was in accordance to this information that Herod determined the age of the children who were to be slaughtered, all those who were two years and below and had been born in 6 B.C., or later. This reveals that the wise men had seen the heavenly sign that had heralded the birth of Jesus, almost two years previously.

Having been told that the child was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem of Judaea, (Although we know from Luke that the family had left Bethlehem 41 days after the child had been born and had returned to their home in Nazareth) the wise men Left the palace of Herod, and behold, there in the north west of Jerusalem, the star that they had seen in the east, was visible once again, and Oh what joy was theirs.

Traveling north in the direction of the hairy star, we can almost picture the scene, the wise men with their entourage travelling along the dusty roads of northern Israel, it’s late in the day and as they come to a rise, there, just above the distant horizon, in the deepening darkness of the evening sky, is the star with its tail streaming up into the heavens and appearing to ‘STAND OVER’ the small and insignificant hamlet, or Zealot Commune, called "Nazareth," as it slowly followed the setting sun.

After entering, ‘NOT’ the manger in Bethlehem of Judah, but the ‘HOUSE’ of Joseph and Mary in Nazareth, the wise men paid homage to the child Jesus, That very same night, the wise men, who would presumably have travelled to Jerusalem across the Kings Highway, were warned in a dream not to reveal to Herod, the child’s whereabouts, and they returned home by a different route from which they had come, which would, more than likely, have been up through the northern route of Damascus, and Joseph was also warned to get out of bed immediately and take the child and his mother and flee into Egypt.

Herod’s secret police had eyes and ears throughout the entire land, and when he realised that he had been tricked and the wise men were not going to return and reveal the child’s location as promised, he was furious and gave the order to kill all the male children in the district that Herod's spies had confirmed that the wise men with their entourage had travelled to, which was around Bethlehem of Galilee, who were two years and below ACCORDING TO THE TIME that he learned from the wise men about when they had first sighted the star that had heralded the birth of the promised king and savour.

According to Josephus the historian, Sepphoris, which was only about 4 miles from Bethlehem of Galilee, and a few kilometres from Nazareth, had a population of around thirty thousand and he called it, "The Ornament of Galilee."

Around the time of Herod’s death in the spring of 4BC, just after he had ordered the slaughter of the innocents around the district of Bethlehem of Galilee, who were two years and below, according to the time that the wise men had seen the heavenly sign that had heralded the birth of Jesus in 6 B.C. there were riots among the peasants of the area in Galilee of which Sepphoris was the centre.

Judas, the son of Hezekias attacked the arsenal of Herod in the city of Sepphoris in order to arm the peasants.

The Romans under Quintillius Varus of Syria, attacked and burnt the city, putting down the uprising in which many families died and were crucified, others were taken prisoner and transported to Rome, where they were sold as slaves. But Joseph, with his wife and her child had escaped the slaughter by fleeing into Egypt.

After a failed suicide attempt, which I believe may have been an option given to him by Caesar Augustus, in the spring of 4 BC, Herod the Great died, then in the spring of 3 B.C., after the death of Herod his father, when Antipas returned from Rome where his father’s will had been ratified by Augustus, he chose and rebuilt the magnificent city of Sepphoris as his capital city for ruling over Galilee.
 
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