Matthew 2:1 - 23
NKJV - 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem. 2 Saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.
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The biblical text does not contain any direct information about where the wise men came from and how long it took them to travel to Bethlehem. However we can make some inferences from the historical information provided in the bible. The word "East" is capitalized in the quoted verses indicating that these wise men belonged to the "Eastern School of Astrology (Astronomy)". This school was most likely located in Babylon which was the capital city of both the "Babylonian Empire" and the "Medo-Persian" empire. Babylon is 2,700 kilometers from Jerusalem as the crow flies. People and camels carrying a heavy load can travel about 30 kilometers in one day. So their journey was at least 4 or 5 months using ancient roads and mountain passes. These wise men were familiar with the prophecies (predictions) of a great Jewish king that was to come, the Messiah. All the prophecies of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, recorded in the bible were familiar to the Jewish nation. When Israel was conquered and sent into exile (Israel to Assyria, Judah and Jerusalem to Bablyon). this knowledge was passed on by the Jewish people to all the other people groups they came into contact with. In particular, Daniel and his friends were in very high positions in the Babylonian and then Medo-Persian governments. They would have had many opportunities to share these prophecies with the wise men (Eastern School of Astrology/Astronomy) during their lives in these empires. The wise men first came to Jerusalem because they expected this great king would come from the royal family who already lived in the capital city. I'm sure they were greatly surprised and perplexed. King Herod asked when they had first seen the star to ascertain when the child may have been born. When he discovered it was 2 years ago, he ordered the massacring of the babies in Bethlehem. The wise men understood who the God of the bible was because of the testimony of Daniel, his friends and all the exiled Jewish people. They understood that the God who created the heavens and earth was going to send a great king to rule over his people, the nation of Israel. They came bearing gifts to honour and worship this king because they wanted the blessing of the God of the universe. How the star guided them on their journey is a fascinating subject that would require an answer on its own. In summary, I will say it was likely a conjunction of the planet Jupiter and the star Regelus, which is part of the constellation of Leo (the king) with the constellation Virgo (the virgin) rising beneath it. When we view planets (or conjunctions) from earth, they can actually appear to be moving across the sky because of the rotation and orbit of the earth. These natural phenomena in the stars and the other natural events on the day of Jesus crucifixion - the earthquake, the complete darkness caused by an eclipse, the blood moon that night, were well known to the people in Jerusalem at the time, who had come from all over the known world to celebrate the Passover. All these natural phenomenon were evidence that God provided, that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. That is why Peter quotes the prophet Joel in his great sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21). “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." The bible says when the times reached their fulfillment the Messiah would come. The conjunction of Jupiter and Regelus, the total eclipse of the sun and the blood moon were part of that promise.
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