Key Concepts 2
Points 6-10 continue the list of key concepts concerning the wise men and the Messiah's star.
The Magi never followed the star anywhere at any moment.
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 travelers. See the blog entry: The Magi Never "Visually 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.
We do not know the numbers or the ethnic identity of the wise men.
The Bible does not tell us how many wise men arrived at Bethlehem. In some middle eastern traditions, as many as six or even 12 are mentioned. Historically in western cultures, it was generally been assumed that there were three wise men mainly because of their three gifts. In addition, the ethnic identity of the wise men remains unknown. We are only told that the men came from the east. Various wise men were important in the history of the vast region to the east of Judaea. Zoroastrian, Babylonian, Greek and even Jewish wise men all played a role there in several successive empires. Whatever their ethnic origins, a possible Jewish connection with the story of the biblical wise men has been long neglected. The Magi who arrived in Bethlehem seem to have been influenced by Judaism. Otherwise, why would they have ever desired to look for the Jewish Messiah?
Babylonian astronomy helps us understand the star.
Astronomy is the branch of science which deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole. Babylonian astronomy was the most advanced and most influential type of astronomy practiced in the Middle East at the time of Jesus' birth. Zoroastrian astronomy was profoundly influenced by Babylonian astronomical concepts. Therefore it would seem that no matter what their background the wise men who went to Bethlehem had some familiarity with Babylonian astronomy.
Babylonian, Zoroastrian and Greek astrology did not have the necessary keys to understand the star.
Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. Many of the ancient astronomers/astrologers could have identified some of the astral phenomena at the end of the first millennium BC as being about royalty. However, ancient astrological ideas would not have led them to conclude that the stellar manifestations involved the Jewish Messiah. This insight must have come from a different source.
See Part 3 of the list: KEY CONCEPTS 3
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