Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Three Wise Men

The Three Wise Men, a.k.a. The Three Kings, The Magi, were a group of an unspecified number of magi, i.e. wizards, who visited the infant Jesus after seeing a star in the night sky that they believed prophesied the birth of the new king of the Jewish people. The story of the Three Wise Men is found only in the gospel of Matthew.

According to the author of Matthew (Matthew 2: 1-12), an unidentified number of wizards came to Jerusalem after witnessing a star in the night sky that they believed prophesied the birth of the new king of the Jewish people. The wizards then asked of King Herod where the new king could be found. The wizards were made aware of the prophecy that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem, so the wizards set out for Bethlehem as their destination. Unfortunately the author of the gospel of Matthew does not state that they actually arrived in Bethlehem, only that the wizards found a house and believed the new king to be residing within. The wizards entered the house and believed they found the infant king they had searched for. Gifts of gold, frankincense & Myrrh were presented to the new king and the wizards paid the infant king homage. The story concludes with the wizards leaving the infant king and travelling back home via a different route as they believed they had ominous dreams warning them of King Herod.

The Three Wise Men In Christian Mythology: In Christian Mythology the wizards that paid baby Jesus a visit in the gospel of Matthew were often claimed to be three in number and instead of wizards were said to be kings. With time these "three kings" were given names, that of Melchior, Caspar (Jasper), and Balthazar. The most common belief was that the magi saw a "new star" in the Eastern night sky which they just happened to know meant that a new king of the Jews was born. Another belief found in Christian Mythology was that these three kings accepted Jesus as the messiah. Such beliefs are false. The magi were not kings, the gospel of Matthew does not list their number, the magi did not see a "new star" but more than likely saw a planetary alignment or conjunction, and the magi did not accept Jesus as their messiah. Because the story of the wise men is only found in the gospel of Matthew and no other gospel, some scholars speculate that it never occurred and was merely a later invention, i.e. "made-up", by the author(s) of the gospel of Matthew.

The Gifts Of Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh As A Spiritual Test: Some have speculated that the gifts of the magi were actually a test administered to the infant Jesus in order to determine if he was indeed the future king of the Jews. According to this theory, whatever the infant Jesus touched first or accepted would be an omen. For example, if he touched the gold first or accepted the gold then he would be king. If he touched the frankincense first or accepted the frankincense then he would be a priest. If he touched the myrrh first or accepted the myrrh then he would be a normal mortal man as myrrh was used to fumigate dead bodies.

Matthew 2: 1-12 (KJV)

The Three Kings & the Star

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