Popular depictions of Christmas seem to compress the nativity story, making it appear as though the three kings ‘ show up in Bethlehem on Christmas, but traditional celebrations put their visit 12 days after Christmas.
Eastern tradition sets the number of Magi at 12, but Western tradition sets their number at three, probably based on the three gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11) presented to the infant.
After Jesus was born, Wise Men came to look for Him, probably from an area which is now in either Iraq , Iran , Saudi Arabia the Yemen , or an area in what’s now southern Turkey, northern Syria. Although they are often called the ‘Three Kings’, the Bible does not say how many there were, or that they were kings.
The wise men account (Matthew) tells us that they returned to Nazareth after their return from Egypt (Matthew 2:22,23). So the wise men’s visit, Joseph and Mary’s trip to Egypt, and their trip back, all of it had to have happened within 40 days of Jesus’ birth.
Magi (/ˈmeɪdʒaɪ/; singular magus /ˈmeɪɡəs/; from Latin magus) were priests in Zoroastrianism and the earlier religions of the western Iranians. The earliest known use of the word magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great , known as the Behistun Inscription.
The wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newborn king . Gold, of course, was valuable as currency. Frankincense is a valuable perfume. Myrrh is a precious ointment often used in the burial process.
To understand the Star of Bethlehem , we need to think like the three wise men. Motivated by this “star in the east,” they first traveled to Jerusalem and told King Herod the prophecy that a new ruler of the people of Israel would be born.
The Virgin Mary, pregnant with the son of God, would hence have given birth to Jesus nine months later on the winter solstice. From Rome, the Christ’s Nativity celebration spread to other Christian churches to the west and east, and soon most Christians were celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25 .
The Epiphany Holiday, known in Spanish speaking countries as Dia De Los Tres Reyes (Day of The Three Kings), falls annually on January 6th and marks the adoration of baby Jesus by the three Kings, also referred to as Wise Men or Magi.
In the mountains of ancient Persia, lived Artaban, whose study of the planets and the stars led him to predict the birth of the King of Kings.
As per the Biblical tale, as recounted in Matthew 2:1-12, an infant Jesus of Nazareth was visited in Bethlehem on the eve of his birth by Magi bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense was often burned as an incense, while myrrh made its way into medicine and perfume.
Myrrh was an ingredient of Ketoret: the consecrated incense used in the First and Second Temples at Jerusalem, as described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. Myrrh is also listed as an ingredient in the holy anointing oil used to anoint the tabernacle, high priests and kings.
Some apocryphal accounts state that at the time of her betrothal to Joseph, Mary was 12–14 years old . According to ancient Jewish custom, Mary could have been betrothed at about 12. Hyppolitus of Thebes says that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of her son Jesus, dying in 41 AD.
They reached Egypt after a 65 kilometers journey where they lived for three years until after the death of Herod in 4 B.C. when Joseph had a dream that it is safe to return to Israel. The family traveled to Nazareth which took them a journey of at least 170 kilometers.
Mathews said among the possibilities are 6 B.C., 5 B.C., 1 B.C. or 1 A.D. The star could have appeared up to two years before the wise men arrived in Jerusalem, he said. Mathews believes that means the Christmas star could have appeared anywhere from 8 to 4 B.C.