The Catholic Defender: The Journey of the Wise Men Revisited
Science and modern technology can be a wonderful thing aided with advances in excavation, history is almost recreated.
What a wonder it is that through computer enhancement we can pin point the stars in the sky going back thousands of years.
They can accurately show great eclipses and major earthquakes with pin point accuracy in time and location.
That boggles the mind. The story of the three wise men have been a mystery for all generations as they bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the New Born King.
Who were the Magi, the Wise Men that would undertake just a journey?
According to St. John Chrysostom, he held that the Wise Men were from Babylon (modern day Iraq), Persia (modern day Iran) or Jews from Yemen (as a result of the Babylonian Captivity).
They were astrologers who knew about the constellation of the stars who recognized something special was taking place.
October 3 B.C. The Day of Atonement-Yom Kippur, the busiest Temple day of the Temple year (Luke 1:10) sometime late March early April.
The Angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah and announced the coming of John the Baptist.
Coinciding almost precisely with the time Zacharias would have been serving in the Temple, a mysterious star began rising over the middle east in what is now probably Iraq.
This star was in fact the planet Jupiter. It would continue it’s rise for about 9 months.
On September 3 B.C. The planet Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo-Leo the Lion.
This would be the star the wise men would follow leading them to Bethlehem.
They followed the star for about 16 months until the Star rested over Bethlehem for six days beginning on Dec 25, 2 B.C.
According to Father Most, a historian on the subject states, “In the evening of June 17, 2 BC, there was a spectacular astronomical event in the western sky. Venus moved eastward seemingly going to collide with Jupiter. They appeared as one star, not two, dominating the twilight of the western sky in the direction of Palestine. This conjunction had not happened for centuries, would not happen again for more centuries. The June convergence of Jupiter and Saturn would have been so spectacular as to dwarf anything before or since.
It also would have coincided with the birth of John the Baptist.
The Magi would certainly have seen this as the sign and began their journey which would have led them to Jerusalem.
As they arrive in Jerusalem and inquire about the child, Herod asks them when they first saw the star at it’s rising. This would have been about 15 months.
It is not a stretch to say that Herod rounded this figure off to 2 years to determine which children to slaughter.
Jupiter was considered the Father, Venus the Mother.
Then not many days later, Venus came within .36 degrees of Mercury.
On Sept 11 came the New Moon, the Jewish New Year. This happened when Jupiter, the King planet was approaching Regulus, the King star.
Further, there were three conjunctions of Jupiter and Regulus within the constellation of Leo, the lion which was considered the head of the Zodiac.
Now Gen 49:10 had foretold there would always be a ruler from Judah, whom Jacob called the lion, until the time of the Messiah. Leo was dominated by the star Regulus, which astronomers called the King Star. The Magi, being astronomers and astrologers, would surely read these signs. (The three conjunctions with Regulus were Aug 12, 3 BC; Feb. 17, 2 BC, and May 8/9 2BC). In Hebrew Jupiter was called sedeq, righteous, a term specially pertaining to the Messiah.
On Sept 11, Jupiter was close in the constellation of Virgo, the virgin. On Sept 3 of 3 BC Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo–Leo the Lion, which was associated with Kings, and the Lion of Judah, as foretold by the dying Jacob in Egypt in Genesis 49. 10.
The star then went before the Magi and rested over Jerusalem on December 25th 2 B.C. It was about a 6-12 day journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. This does not take us beyond January 6th- the traditional day of the visit of the Magi.
It is less than a week to the eclipse that marks God’s judgment on the life of Herod for his abominable crimes.”
According to Father Most, the Magi were in Jerusalem on December 25, 2 B.C. following the star that would lead them to Bethlehem.
Another historical event taking place that coincides with the journey of the Wise Men happens on February, 2 B.C.
Caesar Augustus received the title “Pater Patriae” on Feb 2 B.C. calling for his presence in Rome beginning early fall of 3 B.C. Quirinius, the Governor of Syria (Luke 2:2), acted as Governor of Palestine through 2 B.C.
This is important because of the decree for the whole world to be enrolled which is what leads Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. This fulfills Micah 5:2.
March-April 2 B.C. “In the sixth month (since the announcement of John the Baptist-October 2 B.C.), the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail Full of Grace, the Lord is with you. But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:26-22)
March-April 2:B.C. Mary hastens to visit Elizabeth who was in her sixth month of pregnancy.
June (25) 2 B.C. Birth of St. John the Baptist.
These events happen simultaneous as great signs pointing to the New Born King. Jesus was Born Dec 25. 2 B.C. and the Star of Bethlehem was present for 6 days.
December 25, Joseph brought Jesus and Mary into Bethlehem, but as they arrived, Luke 2:6 says, “While they were there, the time came for her to have her child”.
Maybe Joseph was attempting to report to the census, maybe because of Mary’s labor, it was an emergency that they find a place to deliver the child.
Luke 2:7 indicates Joseph attempted to find an inn but there was no room because of all the travelers coming to file in to the census. The manger or cave appears to have been a hasty place provided because of Mary’s quick labor.
Luke 2:7 says that Mary gave birth to Jesus where “she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger”.
Another possibility is that it was dark when Joseph and his family arrived in Bethlehem, as they quickly found a manger, the angels began praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
The Shepherds were out in the pastures watching over their sheep when all this began to take place.
Meanwhile, the star had led the Wise men to Israel and by this time, they are going through Jerusalem asking “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage”.
This ruckus grabbed the attention of King Herod and he summoned the Wise men to ascertain the time of the stars appearance.
Herod intended to deceive them so he could identify this threat to his throne and kill the Christ Child.
From the birth until the wise men arrived bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, St. Joseph moved from the cave or stable to perhaps a relatives house.
Since Bethlehem was the City of Joseph’s heritage (David), it’s possible that Joseph had relatives present in Bethlehem so he was able to make this move.
The star continued to shine over Bethlehem for another 5 more days.
At any rate, Matthew 2:11 indicates that when the wise men did arrive, they entered the house where Mary and the Child was.
When did the wise men actually arrive at the place where Jesus and Mary were resting?
There is a short window following this star for five days. I think this event had to occur between 25 December and very early 1 January.
I tend to think it would have been later than sooner because what happens next. Matthew states that the Wise men (magi) camped for the night and beheld a dream.
God warns the magi not to return to Herod, but to go another route out of the Country. This dream had to be important because as the magi were leaving Joseph received a dream from an angel saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herold is going to search for the child to destroy him” (Matthew 2:13).
I do not see St. Joseph waiting around to see what happens, they leave Bethlehem immediately. I think that the Magi’s visit and Joseph’s departure would be the same evening. This probably would be the night of 31 December or very early 1 January.
The story of the Wise Men according to the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12:
“When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. e sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.”
Luke’s next hard time line should be 1 January as Jesus is in Jerusalem (7 miles away from Bethlehem) and he is presented to the temple for circumcision.
This happened on the eighth day from his birth. The Child was named Jesus. 32 days later at the Presentation of Jesus, Simeon foretells that Jesus would be “the fall and rise of many in Israel”.
That Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword. Also, there was an older lady who began to speak “about this child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem”.
Now this presents a problem for Joseph, after receiving a vision from an angel to get out of dodge and here they are in Jerusalem where surely if Herod knew Jesus was there, he would have called back all the Soldiers to Jerusalem?
What a story! Joseph sees Simeon prophecy concerning Jesus. This becomes a suspense novel! As Paul Harvey would say, “Now this is the rest of the story.”