Key Concepts About the Star
Below are 15 points, which one should keep in mind concerning the wise men and the Messiah's star.
The star had a name.
The star that became a sign over Bethlehem was named Sedeq (Tzedek) or Kochav Baal by the Jews and MUL.BABBAR by the Babylonian astronomers. The Mesopotamians also had other names for the star. Sedeq means "righteousness" in Hebrew. No one knows for sure exactly when or why the the Jews chose to name this star in this way. However, we do read in the Psalms that "the heavens declare God's righteousness" (Psalms 97:6 and 50:6). Perhaps this concept was important in originally naming the star. The Sumerian / Babylonian name MUL.BABBAR means the "white star." It has been associated with royalty in many cultures for thousands of years.
The wise men came looking for a righteous king.
The awaited Jewish Messiah was specifically prophesied in the book of Jeremiah as a righteous descendant (branch) of King David. The Messiah was also described by the early Christians as the "Righteous One."
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 23:5-6 and 33:14-16)
“A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. “And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. (Acts 22:12-14)
It is a curious thing that the "white star" MUL.BABBAR is known in Hebrew as Sedeq, which means "righteousness". Perhaps a relationship was perceived by the Magi between Sedeq and the "Righteous One".
The star was not the brightest object ever seen.
The star was and remains to this day an important visible object in the heavens. It was not the brightest object in the heavens in the first century BC. Many nova, supernova and even the planet Venus are brighter than the star that became a sign over Bethlehem.
The star was involved in meaningful signs concerning the Jewish Messiah.
The star announced the coming of the Messiah in a certain context over a limited period of time. The star carried a specific royal message. Wise men were needed to discern the message associated with the star. The star was meaningful, but its meaning did not come from its brightness. The celestial signs announcing the coming of the Messiah involved the principal star as well as the sun, moon and other stars. It was the interaction of several heavenly objects together which created the signs in the heavens. There was one star which could be described as the Messiah's star. However, there were a variety of signs in the heavens during the time period of Jesus' conception, birth and early life. Some of these signs involved the principal star, but others did not.
The star was not a directional indicator.
No stars have ever moved in front of astronomers to guide them as is often depicted in Christmas cards. The star which eventually was positioned over Bethlehem (near the zenith) did not guide the wise men. The Magi never looked to the star for directional guidance. The star was uniquely a sign. It did not guide the men anywhere at any time. See the parable: THE STAR AS A SIGN.
The Magi never followed the star anywhere at anytime.
While the star did arrive in the heavens above Bethlehem in advance of the Magi's arrival on the ground, the star was actually never visually in front of them. In the end it was actually above them. Since the Star was not their visual guide the men would have traveled during the daytime like normal travellers. See the blog entry: The Magi Never "Followed the Star"
The wise men did not need a star to show them the way.
The way to Judaea from the east was well known. Each year thousands of Jewish pilgrims who normally lived in Mesopotamia or Iran attended one or more of the great pilgrimage festivals in Jerusalem: Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles. The way from the east was well known and well traveled. It was obvious to look for the expected Jewish Messiah in the land of Israel.
See Part 2 of the list: KEY CONCEPTS 2