Key Concepts 3
Points 11-15 continue the list of key concepts concerning the wise men and the Messiah's star.
Jewish dates and concepts clarify the heavenly signs.
The wise men came seeking the Jewish Messiah. It is evident that they were somehow influenced by and perhaps very well informed about Judaism and the ancient Jewish scriptures. When looks at the time period near the birth of Jesus in detail, it becomes obvious that some special Jewish dates were also associated with celestial events. Several of these events could have been interpreted messianically.
The Magi arrived at Bethlehem about one year after the birth of Jesus.
Manger scenes which portray the wise men arriving at a stable with a shining star pointing to a specific location are in error. The Bible says that the wise men entered a house, not a stable. In the perspective developed on this site, there was no beam of light.
In addition according to the Bible shepherds were present not long after Jesus' birth. However, Jesus was circumcised and presented at the temple before he and his parents fled into Egypt. In Israel circumcision was usually done on the eighth day after most births. We know that Mary was at the temple when Jesus was presented there. A woman who had given birth to a male child could not enter the temple complex until 40 days after giving birth (Leviticus 12:1-8). Since the family fled into Egypt not long after the Magi arrived, their visit must have been after Jesus' circumcision and his presentation at the temple.
It is likely that the stories of the wise men and the shepherds were mixed together because the events happened at about the same time of the year. According to some ancient traditions the young child, Jesus stood beside his seated mother when the wise men presented their gifts. Children about one-year-old can stand. However, the wise men probably made their visit to Judaea about one year after the birth of Jesus.
The star finally became a sign high above Bethlehem.
The only place that the wise men could have seen a normal, natural star "over the place where the young child was" would have been in Bethlehem itself. The wise men did not observe the star in the distance over the town because the star was actually near the zenith (well above their heads) at its highest point. While the Magi were in Bethlehem itself, because of some special circumstances, the wise men discerned that the star had again become a celestial sign. The star did not have a beam of light indicating a certain spot where the wise men could find the Messiah. The stellar manifestations were more discreet. The star was a sign over Bethlehem. It was not a directional indicator.
The star was actually a planet.
There are five visible planets. They all look like stars if one does not use a telescope to get a closer view. Planets do sometimes visually appear to stop in the heavens. This probably accounts for some of its strange movements described in Matthew's account of the visit of the wise men. The phenomenon was well known by ancient astronomers. Today we know the star MUL.BABBAR / Sedeq (Tzedek) by the name of Jupiter.
The star is still visible today.
When the wise men spoke of the star's appearing they did not mean that it had never existed before. They were referring to the limited time period when the star MUL.BABBAR / Sedeq (Jupiter) was involved in a series of messianic signs. The main manifestations, which could have been recognized by most ancient astronomers/astrologers, took place during a period of less than two years before the wise men visited Judaea (Matthew 2:16).
In a similar way, every 29 to 30 days the new crescent moon in the west in the evening signals the beginning of a new month. The moon thus becomes a sign of each new month, although it has existed as a heavenly object for long ages. The "star" existed long before the events near the time of the birth of Jesus and it still exists today.
The star is no longer involved in signs announcing the Messiah's first coming, but it still reminds us that the Messiah, "the Righteous One" is reigning.