Friday, December 14, 2007

We Three Kings

We three kings of Orient are/bearing gifts we've traveled afar/field and fountain moor and mountain following yonder star

The Bible never tells us that kings visited Jesus.
Instead we are told in Matthew 2: 1-12:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." 
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" 

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." 

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Magi, "Wise Men," some have speculated from the region of Peria, but we have no indication that they were kings.

Notice also that the above passage does not specify how many Magi visited Jesus. They brought three kinds of gifts, but that does not necessitate only three visitors.

Note we are also not told what kind of animal they rode. They could have ridden on horseback instead of camelback (which would have be a faster means of transportation.) We can speculate, but we do not have definitive proof.

One thing we can know for certain is that the Magi were not present at or shortly after Christ's birth.

Again, the above passage states on coming to the house this does not indicate the place where Mary and Joseph stayed while in Bethlehem (Luke 2:7). We also find from Matthew 2:16-18:
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 
"A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more."

We can probably guess that it had been about two years since the Messiah was born given the above passage. Since Herod had found the exact time the star appeared from the Magi, Herod acted accordingly by killing all those that age and younger.

Thus, the Magi visited a house, not the manger, and saw Christ probably around two years after his birth, not at his birth. We have no indication that the Magi were kings, what beast of burden carried them, or how many of them there were.

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