Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Priests of Persia

©Dietrich Madsen/Illustration Works/Corbis
History describes the Magi as the order of priests and religious teachers among the Medes and the Persians. It was in this context how the King James translation of the Bible chose to use “wise men” for these mystic dignitaries. In the Second Chapter of Matthew, these wise men were associated with a star said to signal the birth of the Jewish King. How they came to know this was by their knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, as facilitated by the Babylonian policy of liberal exchange of ideas that the Persians were just too happy to continue; another was through an expertise in astrology.

The Magi and the Messianic Star

► Ancient Astrology: the Egyptians

©Brooklyn Museum/Corbis
Astrology had been in existence thousands of years before the Persians, going back to the Sumerians of 6000 B.C. It was a primitive science that was almost exclusively mastered by the Semitic Mesopotamian civilizations, an erudition that distinguished them from the Egyptians. The Egyptian priests were never known to have displayed a knowledge of astrology as advanced as their Mesopotamian counterparts. This may explain why the whole Empire of the Nile was thrown into total panic when a “darkness that could be felt…covered all Egypt for three days” (Exodus 10:21–22). Not to suggest that the Mesopotamians would have reacted with more courage if it happened to them, but their priests could have tried to explain the phenomenon with the abundant stock of information gathered from years of systematic study of heavenly bodies. The Egyptian sages, however, possessing no advanced astrological method to attempt in any way to ease their panic, stood stiff in their place for three lightless days until the darkness past—“No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days” (verse 23).
Photo source:
     Are You Sirius?

What we do know of Egyptian astrology concerned the annual flooding of the Nile on which the survival of the people depended. These people were quick to notice that the rise of the river waters coincided with the rise of the star Sirius in tandem with the ascension of the sun (Into the Unknown, New York/Montreal: Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1981; p.138). According to the 1970’s bestseller Chariots of the Gods? (New York: Bantam Books, 1978), however, author Erich von Däniken suspected that there was more to the observation of Sirius than the Nile flooding. He asserted that a Nile flooding did not occur every year, nor did every Nile flood take place on the same day. If Sirius, therefore, appeared on the horizon at dawn at the same time as the Nile flood, it was by mere coincidence (Däniken, p.65). Called the “Dog Star,” Sirius has been one of those heavenly bodies that were not as easily spotted as, say, the North Star. It was peculiar, he continues, that the Egyptians took a special interest on Sirius in that seen from Memphis, it can only be observed in the early dawn just above the horizon when the Nile floods begin (Ibid, p.64). But surprisingly, the Egyptian scholars were able to systematically organize a Sirius calendar running on annual cycles of more than 32,000 years (Ibid.).

It has not been so widely discussed but the Dog Star was held in high honor in both Egypt and Mesopotamia during ancient times, even before the time these two civilizations ever met. The Sumerian goddess Ninutra was symbolized by Sirius, believed to be the judge of the universe and passed sentence upon mortal men (Ibid., p. 62). It may probably be a coincidence but the oldest extra-Biblical proof of the Noahic Flood was discovered in an ancient Sumerian library which stored 60,000 clay tablets. In the Sumerian account, it was in a place called Shuruppak where its version of Noah built his ark (Ibid.). Did these ancient people agree on the link between Sirius and the flooding of the earth?

Advanced or not, however, the closed and xenophobic character of the Egyptian culture prevented its influence to rise as the standard of the ancient world. The privilege instead fell to the Babylonians as the intellectual founders of astronomy, revolutionizing the minds of even of the greatest of the western thinkers when they met in the days of Hellenization.

Astrology, the Magi, and the Holy Scriptures

Photo source: Baldur's Gate II: Shadow of Amn
When the Persians rose in power in 538 B.C., the faith and science of the stars fell into the committed hands of its new Aryan masters, the Magi. This is not suggesting, however, that the Persians possessed no knowledge or concern for astrology until they penetrated the gates of Babylon. The fact that they were regional neighbors may even be enough to give us the inclination to believe that these Aryans next door were infected with the same cultural astro-mania that possessed the Babylonians, Assyrians, and the Chaldeans. In this light, it can be safely followed that the Medes and Persians merely perfected their knowledge of astrology the moment they inherited the libraries and altars of Babylon.

Because of the liberalization of knowledge and learning, the stage was set for the fateful encounter between the Persian priest-scholar and the Hebrew Scriptures. Then interpreting the latter with the arcane science of astrology, the coming of the Jewish Messiah proved to be an inevitable event and a promise understandable and unhidden even among the pagans who would but cast a willing attention to the Word of God. To this day, the story of the wise men and the star of Bethlehem remains one of the prime evidences that spiritual salvation was not meant to be boxed up among the Jews. On that special night, not one in Israel was with the slightest hint that born on a manger somewhere in the towns in the periphery of Jerusalem was the One whom the entire nation had been praying to come and bring deliverance from Roman oppression. And it took the attention of several dignitaries from Persia to awaken the king of a surprisingly unsuspecting nation to the fact, written in both ink and in the stars, that the King of the Jews had been born.

©Alfredo Dagli Orti/The Art Archive/Corbis
© PoodlesRock/Corbis
Pagan Magi read the Scriptures, took them seriously to the point of applying their own system of learning so they could validate an exact date to supposedly join the whole nation of Israel in joyful celebration of the birth of its King. Now, please be reminded that this was an ancient world with ancient ways; and one of those ancient ways was that if some royalty was born at a neighboring kingdom, it was the way of an ally, or one seeking an alliance, to show goodwill and honor the regal celebrant with their presence with gifts. So this was no ordinary bash. Imagine the trouble that these people had to go through: planning what clothes to wear, practicing their entourage, preparing their speeches—what to say, what not to say—polishing gestures, picking out gifts for the newborn King! The main thing was that the Magi expected festivity of a national scale. But when they got there…. The imagery that held the faintest trace of a party were the crickets chirping in starlight and shepherds on graveyard shift, a-storytelling and a-warming around a bonfire. You can bet the Magi, this grand entourage meant for a conquering king, felt the same feeling we would feel if were all dressed up bejeweled and speckled head to foot and some guy comes along and remarks, “So where’s the party?”

Too bad that their astrology never presaged for them that it was going to be a boring night in the land of the Jews by the time the Persian delegation hit Palestinian borders.

Let it be confirmed here that the Persian discovery of Jesus’ birth and location did, or does it ever, suggest that God approved of the practice of astrology. At no time and with no exception did God relax His judgment on those who worshiped the heavenly bodies—

“If a man or woman living among you…is doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down…to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky…then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death” (Deuteronomy 17:2–5).

© Brooklyn Museum/Corbis
And though it appeared that God cooperated with the pagan Magi by guiding them with the Messianic star (Matthew 2:2,9–12), the very Star of Jacob prophesied by the Prophet Balaam during the wandering days of the Israelites (Numbers 24:17), it was a clear case of God asserting His sovereignty as He did when He seized control of the necromantic rites performed by the witch of Endor to arrange one last encounter between King Saul and the deceased ghost of the Prophet Samuel.

Thus saith the Lord, "Here's how it's goin' down, so shut up and listen!"

Many believers tend to forget that God will not be contained in a doctrinal expectation or two. While it is true that He in His holiness has set up rules and laws to show His predictability, He will, at the same time, will not be reduced and limited within borders of helplessness beyond which lie an endless stretch of darkness as treacherous as the enemy that rules it. What is usually forgotten here is that the God believed to be trapped by His own holiness is the same God addressed as the Almighty One, who claimed in Isaiah 46:10 in all power and authority, “I will do all that I please.”

Through the Prophet Isaiah, God thundered: “Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low…. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. What I have planned, that will I do” (Isaiah 46:1,10,11).

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This decisive declaration built up to the prophetic judgment of Babylon in which God spoke in terms that the Babylonians would understand. God has always been known to value every word coming from Him (Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 4:4; 24:25; Mark 13:31; Luke 11:28; 21:33; John 5:24; 6:63,68; 12:48); and in pronouncing judgment on the Babylonians, He made sure they understood what was coming to them. Observe the reference God made to magic, a preoccupation that the Babylonians knew so well:

Photo source: Baldur's Gate
“They (loss of children and widowhood) will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells. You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’ Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you. Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror. All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame” (Isaiah 47:9–14).

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No power in heaven or on earth or anywhere else from the darkest corner at the outskirts of all the galaxies could ever limit the Mighty Almighty. No question, protest, complaint, doctrine, or doubt born out of man’s boisterous little brain could ever intimidate God. Not even a slanderous troublemaking sprite named Satan lurking around like a devouring lion could make God change His mind—not even on a bad day! The Bible says, “May God arise, may his enemies be scattered. May his foes flee before him” (Psalm 68:1). This means wherever God puts His foot on He scares away the opposition; and that anywhere, not just in places that invite His presence like churches, believers’ homes, or where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name (Matthew 18:20). God is an unstoppable God, invading even the darkest, dirtiest, and the scariest—

As unstoppable as Samson was when he clobbered an army of Philistines with a jawbone of a donkey! But, really, it was God propelling Samson to wipe out that army, according to Judges 15:14–15: "The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men." "A thousand men," folks.

© Lebrecht 3/Lebrecht Music & Arts/Corbis
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).

When God decided to stick His finger in Egypt and throw the Empire into panic and economic devastation, no one was able to provide a worthy opposition that could make God turn back and regroup—

“But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. And the gnats were on men and animals. The magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God’” (Exodus 8:18–19).

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As far as the pharaoh was concerned, he could have prevented further destruction in his kingdom by declaring freedom to the Israelites. According to history, all Egypt was the pharaoh’s property. Surely the first sight of his Nile River turning to blood as a result of his mockery of Moses and Aaron must have compelled him to repent and emancipate His people. But as far as God was concerned it was too soon for the king to relent. God had determined to break the power of Egypt with various afflictions building up to the death of the firstborn. And before God commissioned Moses to return to Egypt and be His representative, He revealed a plan to manipulate the pharaoh’s heart to render the kingdom pregnable to the attacks of all ten plagues.

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“The LORD said to Moses, ‘When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son’” (Exodus 4:21–23).

As much as the pharaoh probably wanted to free Moses’ Israelites and stop the devastation of his kingdom, there was nothing he could do to resist the power of God that unremittingly hardened his heart. One important reason why the Egyptian king was so easily swayed to defy God was that he had a natural disposition toward stubbornness—

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“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go” (Exodus 3:19).

This is but one case that bears witness to God’s “bragging” claim in Isaiah 46:10 and 11—“My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” 

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Thousands of years later God was at it again, so to speak, when He one day decided to slap some perspective in a vainglorious megalomanic Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 4:29 we find the Babylonian king “walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon,” surveying his vast and endless realm; he comments on the thirtieth verse: “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” According to history, Nebuchadnezzar did bring the Babylonian civilization into its greatest glory when, under his command, he led the battle of Carchemish and crushed the power of Assyria in 606 B.C. wresting for himself the great empire of these hated merciless people that curved from Gaza in southern Palestine and covered the entire course of the twin rivers Tigris and Euphrates down to the Persian Gulf. Though he failed to restore the original excitement of the Babylonian religion, the greatest extent of his civilization’s political and military power was proven under his rule in 570 B.C. But there was more to this. In the Bible, the Creator of heaven and earth called Nebuchadnezzar His “servant” and chose him master of all the lands once held by the Assyrians—

“Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson…. If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague, declares the LORD, until I destroy it by his hand” (Jeremiah 27:6–8).

What business did God have with this Godless and ruthless pagan Nebuchadnezzar who in his life never acknowledged the real Master of heaven and earth? This was a guy who ransacked the Temple of the Lord when he penetrated Jerusalem in 607 B.C. and carried away “the vessels of the house of the LORD and “put them in the house of his gods” (Ezra 1:7), desecrating these holy articles by using them in his religious celebrations. The Prophet Jeremiah needed but one answer to this:

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“With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please” (Jeremiah 27:5).

But the day Nebuchadnezzar basked in his own glory was the day God flung him to the ground in total humiliation—

“The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes’” (Daniel 4:31–32).

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In a very long thirty-third verse, it accounts how “Immediately…Nebuchadnezzar…was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” At the end of a period described as “seven times” (verse 32), or what could be a week, he raised his eyes toward heaven and his sanity was restored (verse 34). And as immediately as when his wits evaporated away, this king, who once ascribed to himself the eminence of single-handedly resurrecting Babylonian supremacy, began singing a new song:

“Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done’” (4:34–35)?

Not only did Nebuchadnezzar learn a valuable lesson that time. And not only was Nebuchadnezzar restored to his throne and “became even greater than before” (verse 36). He learned of a King of heaven whose deeds are always right and whose ways are always just and who could humiliate any dude who walks in pride (verse 37). How about that, Nebuchadnezzar became born again!

For what happened to their king, the Babylonians could be considered very, very fortunate as compared to the Israelites when King David got himself into the same trouble when he decided to measure his military might and explain the consistent victories he had been securing in his campaigns. God in His sovereignty decided to step in give the man after His own heart a stern reminder of nudging Him out of the picture:

“Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: ‘Go and tell David, “This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you…. Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land”’” (2 Samuel 24:12–13)?

We all know which David chose. In verse 15, it says that God sent a plague that within three days took the lives of seventy thousand Israelites, from one end of the kingdom to the other. It was a choice in which both David and God relented.

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The Bible has got pages of God’s answer to anyone who challenged His sovereignty, right back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve started meddling with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the Tower of Babel, when He decided to descend uninvited and mess up the Shinar project aimed to build a city “with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).

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And on the night Christ was born, God in His power and mercy lit up the night sky with a star that a group of pagan Magi had been expecting for probably centuries before. Probably because of the excitement of the season it is set in, Christians today take the story of the Magi and the star of Bethlehem too casually that they miss the details of God’s sovereignty and the apparent negligence of the people, who were supposed to be ardently praying for the Messiah to come, to realize what the pagan Magi had known during, or even way before, that time. To be fair, the Magi used astrology, a craft forbidden in Israel; and with the close guidance of the synagogue system, which every Jewish person felt strongly compelled to be a part of “or die,” so to speak, astrology generally won no takers among the Jews.

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So was it a technicality then that the pagan Magi won the attention of God for unraveling the exact date of the birth of the Messiah with their arcane and forbidden art? That’s not true. It was God who revealed to these pagan wise men about the star. By now you might be noticing and even bothered by the detail of my recurrently using the word “pagan” as a modifier for the Magi. And I think you know why. God, by His sovereign choice—God has a choice, just like you and I! If He didn’t, then we wouldn’t have been made in His likeness!—chose to intervene in their mystic craft and send them pagan Magi an exclusive invitation to come to the birth of the One who will break the power of sin and death once and for all! Now why did God do that and forget about the “expectant” Jews? Well, doubtless here is God’s sovereign choice so we shouldn’t be asking why at all. On the other hand, God is not intimidated by our questions, so He says, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18, King James Version).

First of all, what the pagan Magi knew about the Messiah was old news to the Jews; they held the same Scriptures. In fact, the Jews should have known more because they had the prophets, priests, rabbis, and “various ways” (Hebrews 1:1) at their disposal to help out in interpreting God’s Word. And that was not difficult because the Scriptures were written in the language they understood more than the Magi! Furthermore, God was and is still not a stranger to this nation. The Magi—oh, I forgot! The pagan Magi—on the other hand, needed the help of the stars, a method that was supposed to add more difficulty in an already intricate task of studying the Scriptures of a foreign culture. Imagine, therefore, the predicament of the Magi who looked at the Scriptures and asked, “Could this mean that…?” and then turned to their telescopes and asked, “Could this alignment mean that…?” The trouble in this would be a resultant knowledge surrounding the Messiah more than the Messiah Himself. Because of their knowledge of astrology, the Magi knew more of the star than the Messiah; and in Matthew 2:2 nothing in their arsenal of sophisticated erudition could yield where exactly the Christ was to be born. Thank God—and literally, thank God—for the star.

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The Prophet Daniel: A Possible Link to the Magi?

But could have it also been that the Magi were given the appropriate understanding in the Hebrew Scriptures that ultimately linked them to the Messiah? The answer to this is surprising. When Cyrus the Great pushed back the gates of Babylon and entered its temples seventy years after the Israelite deportation, the great Israelite Prophet Daniel was the chief of all the wise men in the capital. It is even stated in Daniel 2:48 that he ruled over the entire province of Babylon. These were positions which he held from the time the Israelites had settled in the empire “until the first year of Cyrus” (1:21). Furthermore, in the time when the Jews were heading back to Jerusalem in waves after Cyrus the Great proclaimed them free to return and rebuild their ravaged nation, Daniel remained in the royal palace prospering (6:28).What better person to have interpreted the Scriptures to the Magi than the Scriptures’ greatest exponent, the Prophet Daniel? The Prophet Daniel was a man of the Scriptures. It was, in fact, this devotion to the Scriptures that propelled him to his knees and intercede for the restoration of Jerusalem:

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“…I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years” (9:2).

Yet was it in Daniel’s heart to willingly share the secrets of the Scriptures to pagans? As we have seen earlier, the conversion of Nebuchadnezzar’s heart, as expressed in his confession in Daniel 4:34 to 37, may have given Daniel an outlook that God was, by that period, willing to share His revelation to the pagans; this would therefore mean a primary understanding of His Scriptures. The Book of Daniel is full of accounts regarding God revealing Himself through the miracles seen moving in Daniel’s life and compelling Nebuchadnezzar and later the Persian official of Babylon named Darius to proclaim the wonder of “the God of Daniel.” An example of these was one written by the satrap Darius “to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land” in 6:26 to 27:

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“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves, he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” 

Throughout Daniel’s life as the chief of the Babylonian, and later the Persian, wise men, it was from the
Scriptures and the Spirit of God where he drew his inspiration and nothing more. Never do we find this great man sinking his curiosity in the magic arts and astrology of his subordinates and contemporaries. And because he was the chief, he may have gained a following who learned from him and adhered to his wisdom derived from God’s holy Scriptures. In the years that followed after him, his teachings may have been carefully documented and lovingly enshrined for generations of mystics to come.

Back to the first Christmas.

© Brooklyn Museum/Corbis
God used a star to guide the Magi. The star was a real star, not some spectral vision or one of those you see when passing out or when you shut your eyes too hard. This was a star that could be seen by everyone, both Magi and any Jew who looked up to the night sky. And even if this star looked just as ordinary as the others that twinkled that night, special only to the learned—but pagan—Magi, it was hard to resist, at least for some, to satisfy a measure of curiosity and follow a mighty train of royal dignitaries as if it was making its way to heaven on foot! Matthew 2:3 says that when the Magi came to Herod as asked him where the real King of the Jews could be found, “all Jerusalem” was troubled. Who wouldn’t be?

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This Persian contingent was more than the traditional Christmas picture of three lonely old men on camelback that we have gotten so used to. How a traditional procession of incoming VIP’s on a state visit is a more likely picture, complete with bodyguards and heavily armed escorts! We also have to consider the part of history which was shared between the Jews and the kingdom these Magi by then more or less represented. Around 40 B.C., a not-so very distant time before the first Christmas, Parthia, a kingdom made from the remnants of the fallen Persian Empire in 250 B.C., lent its troops to the last Jewish Hasmonean Prince Antigonus in his political power struggle against Herod, the Idumean appointed by the Romans to rule southern Palestine alongside Hyrcanus II. For three years, Parthian soldiers occupied Jerusalem securing Antigonus’ government until the Roman legions headed by Herod finally trounced them. Forty years later, as this very same Herod snuggled soundly on his royal mattress, a knock on his royal palace revealed the presence of a formidable entourage of Parthian soldiers headed by Persian Magi looking for the real King of the Jews. For sure, they knew who Herod was and it didn’t take no star to tell them that he ain’t the King and he ain’t no Jew! But even so, this impostor on the throne had the audacity to tell the Magi:

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“Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (Matthew 2:8).

Yeah, right. If Herod really had any intention of worshiping the One whose throne he by then illegally and immorally occupied, why he didn’t and his chief priests join in the search? They could have just tagged along since it was not that hard to miss the sparkling mass of sophisticated foreign pilgrim even if one trailed after a wide distance. The problem was no one in Jerusalem had any courage, time, or interest to know where the Messiah was. Later, the Messiah would allude to this event in one of His parables that told of a wedding banquet where the invited refused to come. In Matthew 22:9 to 10, the master of the feast told his servants—

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“’Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” 

On the night Jesus was born, a group of pagan Magi ardently searched for the address of this holy Celebrant with the help of a single star God provided in the heavens which He was sure they would never cease to follow until He was found. At the same time—

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“…there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger" (Luke 2:8–12,15–16).

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Now get this: where the Magi failed, the shepherds succeeded—“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (verses 17–18).

And there was a party after all.

[There's more a-comin'!]


  1. This is very absorbing. It is good you simplify relating this portion of history. Must need lots of references.

    Wish you more success, and prosperity... ?

  2. This specific event in history could really be appreciated and better understood in view of what the Christians' tradition has been celebrating. The details written here give a clearer background to the reader though.

    Thank you for the write-up.