We Have Seen His Star
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him (Matthew 2:1-2.)
This article is edited from its original post of December 16, 2015.
WISE MEN. Much time and scholarship has been devoted to these “wise men.” It was common practice for kings in the area of Babylon and Persia to assemble a body of men from the smartest they could find who were masters of accumulated philosophy and “professionals” at studying the stars and heavenly bodies. They grasped for any straw of connection to any existing deity “out there anywhere” who could guide them in exercising the controls and expansion of their kingdoms. That is the background.
HOWEVER, MIXED WITH THIS is the fact that, as Jews, they were conquered and forced into exile among these conquering kingdoms to the east, first Babylon and then Persia (modern-day Iraq and Iran). They took with them a firm belief in the one true God who had given them their land and their sacred books. They were highly educated in their sacred books and their influence had oozed out into their conquerors.
IT IS BELIEVED BY SOME OF OUR BEST-EDUCATED SCHOLARS of the Old Testament and the Middle East, that the knowledge of the Wise Men who followed a star to Jerusalem, gained their knowledge from Jewish captives, deported to Babylon. When Babylon (Iraq) was conquered by Persia (Iran) the Jewish captives then had access to the scholars of Persia.
THE SACRED JEWISH BOOKS HAD TOLD THEM of One promised to come to Israel who would be a governor. The wise men of Babylon and Persia were interested in this and learned it.
APPARENTLY, THE WISE MEN WHO SHOWED UP IN JERUSALEM, were officials of government in that they had considerable wealth and also, they could be counted by their government as making a justified excursion to follow a strange star they had been studying.
THEIR INQUIRY WAS NOT ABOUT A SUFFERING SAVIOR who would save people from their sins, but about a New King born to the Jews. If a Jewish king was being born in Israel, he would have to be approved by Persia and submit to Persian policies. That would be reason enough for the Persian government to finance the trip of the Wise Men to Jerusalem.
IT IS HARD FOR ME TO IMAGINE THESE MEN TRAVELING ALONE, carrying a fortune in treasure, unguarded and preparing their own food. An entourage of 15-20 men and camels would more easily have “troubled” all of Jerusalem with Herod than a mere three men. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:3)
HEROD, WHO WAS A VASSAL KING UNDER PERSIA, had an even stronger and more personal reason to know about a Jewish king baby. Herod was real picky about protecting his throne and had one of his ten wives killed, along with three of his sons. Wikipedia has an interesting article on the Wise Men. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Magi
BUT APPARENTLY, THE WISE MEN HAD A CONNECTION WITH GOD that their government did not have. God does as He pleases and on His own time schedule. These Wise Men made a long journey to find the Christ. Wise men still seek Him today. Have you sought Him for yourself? The Christmas video: “The Nativity” includes interesting portrayal of the Wise Men. We watch it every year.
McGee POINTS OUT THAT "WHILE THE WISE MEN WERE IN EAST, THEY SAW the star. They did not see a star east of where they were located. If that had been the case, they would have ended up in India or China. No, the wise men were east of Jerusalem, probably in Persia (modern day Iran) and saw a star that was west of them and followed it. But that does not address the question of why they followed such a strange star.
“WHY DID THEY CARE IN THE LEAST ABOUT THE SMALL NATION OF ISRAEL? Why were they interested in Israel’s king? Why did they associate Israel’s king with a star? Please allow me to throw in an opinion here that the star was no ordinary star, not a NOVA star, etc. The star was low enough to move along and be followed and it stood still over the house of the child (not the baby but the child – different words are used for baby and child).
“WHAT THEY CALLED A STAR WAS A SPECIAL LIGHT provided by the Lord that moved and hovered. OK, why did the Wise Men associate a new king of Israel with a star? They got that information from somewhere. There’s a strong suspicion that it came from Jewish Scripture and Jewish scholars.
“BALAAM WAS A MISFIT PROPHET WITH A DIVIDED HEART. He wanted to serve God, but he also wanted money and the favor of political power. In spite of his wicked heart and his miserable track record as a prophet, God showed him some things and put up with him until at last He killed him. Balaam wrote: …there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. (Num 24:17) This prophecy was about Israel and it was about a star (figurative and literal).
McGee CONTINUES TO WRITE: “Notice that the prophecy says a Star shall come out of Jacob—that is, the nation Israel. And a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel. The star and the sceptre go together. That is the only place I know where they are put together in prophecy in the Old Testament. The wise men in the East had that prophecy, and so they came out of the mysterious East seeking a king. This did disturb the city of Jerusalem and old King Herod.” (McGee)
WALVOORD AND ZUCK- (BIBLE KNOWLEDGE COMMENTARY) agree with the idea that the Wise Men may have been informed from their contact with Jewish prophets or scholars. We remember that some of the best minds of Israel were transported to Babylon (final deportation in 586 B.C.) and remained there for 70 years. That gave plenty of time for the scholarship of Israel to ooze out in the surrounding area. Then Persia conquered Babylon and that influence extended into Persia from which the Wise Men most likely came. We remember also that it was the Persian king: Cyrus that later allowed the captured Jews of Babylon to return home and gave them money and protection to rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed.
THE BIG PICTURE OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS, THE CHRIST (JEWISH MESSIAH) is that the entire Old Testament says repeatedly: “He’s coming!” Beginning with Moses and continuing to Malachi, reference is often made to God’s promised one. The New Testament summarizes it: But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:4-5).
Good Verse to Memorize:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah. 9:6)
Read Through the Bible in a Year
DECEMBER 27, 2019 - FRIDAY
A.M. Zachariah 4-6 P.M. Revelation 18
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
A Good Verse to Memorize:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 1:18)
Song for Today:
The Hallelujah Chorus (4:15) – (English Concert Choir and Orchestra – Sept.3, 2010- 1,002,571 views)
(Wait several seconds. You may have to delete an ad.)
(This article is a total of 1377 words).