Following the Star

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”  Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1–11 ESV)

What do Christians mean when we say that the wise men followed a star?  Was it just a star in the sky?  If so, that would have given them a direction but would not have led them to a specific house.  If the star indeed was over the house, we obviously cannot think of a star the size of our sun hovering over a specific building in Bethlehem.  So what was this star?  The New Testament does not give details.  What we do know is that there is an extensive Jewish tradition identifying stars and angels.  This is found in many intertestamental texts but one biblical one is: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3 ESV)  While not mentioning angels, scholars are agreed that Daniel is speaking of resurrection as becoming like angels.  If the star was an angel, it makes more sense of how the wise men were able to go to a specific house.  Two questions are left: why appear as a star instead of an angel and why disappear so that they would need directions from Herod?  The reason for the star, was that the wise men were pagans and would have interpreted them as gods rather than angels.  As for Herod, that was a purposeful detour to announce to Herod that there was a new King of the Jews.  This interpretation, while not proven, seems to make sense of the evidence.

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14 thoughts on “Following the Star”

  1. The number of persons who saw the star is not revealed in the Matthew account and circumstantial evidence is strong that the ma′goi who visited the infant Jesus were astrologers. Thus The New Testament translated by C. B. Williams reads “star-gazers,” with a footnote in explanation: “This is, students of stars in relation to events on earth.” Fittingly, then, modern English translations read “astrologers” at Matthew 2:1.—AT, NE, NW, Ph..

    As to the “star” (Gr., a‧ster′) seen by them, how could it logically have ‘come to a stop above where the young child was,’ thereby identifying the one house in the village of Bethlehem where the child was found. It is also notable that only these pagan astrologers “saw” the star. Their condemned practice of astrology and the adverse results of their visit, slaughter of many boys in Bethlehem, placing in danger the life of the future Messiah, certainly allow for, and even make advisable, the consideration of their having been directed by a source adverse to God’s purposes as relating to the promised Messiah. It is certainly reasonable to ask if the one who “keeps transforming himself into an angel of light,” whose operation is “with every powerful work and lying signs and portents,” who was able to make a serpent appear to speak, and who was referred to by Jesus as “a manslayer when he began,” could not also cause astrologers to ‘see’ a starlike object that guided them first, not to Bethlehem, but to Jerusalem, where resided a mortal enemy of the promised Messiah.—2Co 11:3, 14; 2Th 2:9; Ge 3:1-4; Joh 8:44.
    Much of the above information is paraphrased from Insight on the Scriptures Vol.’s 1,2

    I will not become involved in a discussion that quite possibly would deteriate into what is described at 1 Tmothy 6:3-6 as a debate over words. Although if sincerely interested in the matter a person may engage one of Jehovah’s Winesses (Isaih 43:10-12) as they emgage in their public ministry all around the planet earth. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses I do ahear to what is described at Acts 9:2 as “The Way.” Thank you Mr.Beddard for allowing a platform for this small but powerful proclaiming of a segment of what has to do with “the Good News of the Kinngdom!”

    Peace to all and warm Christian Love,
    Randy

  2. I would rather say that God met them where they were at and accommodated his revelation to them in a way they would understand. The other thing to realize that there were no clear lines in ancient times between astronomy and astrology. Many of the astronomic truths we know now came from the astrologers of the past. Finally, I find it very difficult that Satan would lead anyone to worship Jesus. It just does not make sense.

  3. I am skeptical of Israelite origins of the magi. Matthew seems to have an interest in gentiles, including a number in the genealogy of Jesus. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I had not encountered this theory before.

  4. Dear Seekers of The Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33),

    Matthew 2:1,2 from a few Bible translations make it clear they, the magi, were not Israelites:

    AMP © 1NOW WHEN Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men [astrologers] from the east came to Jerusalem, asking,
    2Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the eastat its rising and have come to worship Him.

    ASV © 1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, (1) Wise-men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, [Note: 1) Gr Magi ; Compare Es 1:13; Da 2:12; Ac 13:6, 8] 2(1) Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to (2) worship him. [Note: 1) Or Where is the King of the Jews that is born? 2) The Greek word denotes an act of reverence whether paid to a creature (see Mt 4:9; 18:26), or to the Creator (see Mt 4:10)]

    KJV © 1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
    2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

    NASB © 1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king,magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
    2″Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

    NIV © 1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

    NLT © 1Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

    NWT © 1After Jesus had been born in Beth´le·hem of Ju·de´a in the days of Herod the king, look! astrologers from eastern parts came to Jerusalem, 2saying: “Where is the one born king of the Jews? For we saw his star [when we were] in the east*, and we have come to do him obeisance.”

    YLT © 1And Jesus having been born in Beth-Lehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, lo, mages from the east came to Jerusalem, 2saying, `Where is he who was born king of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and we came to bow to him.’
    So the Magi , the astrologers, that came to see Jesus at the time of his birth came from the direction of Babylon, from “eastern parts.” (Mt 2:1) When they said that they saw his star “in the east [Gr., a‧na‧to‧lei′, literally, “rising”],” as some Bible translations state, they did not mean that it was E of where their land was but that they saw it from the East or when they were in the East.—Mt 2:2, ftn.*

    In pursit of life without end (John 17:3)
    Warm Christian Love,
    Randy

  5. Dear Intersted Persons:

    I did not provide the link to a valuable Bible research tool to enhance Bible study that I used above to access simultaniously many Bible text or texts. Here is that link:

    http://biblize.com/

    Warm Christian Love,
    Randy

    PS ~ http://www.jw.org – please listen to the January AWAKE magazine and any and all available information made available on this site.

  6. I agree that the Bible does not say how many wise men were there. However, there are some major problems with this article. If they were so bad, why would God speak to them in a dream? If Satan led them, why did they worship Jesus? By the way, are you familiar with the Jewish tradition that Abraham started off as an astrologer?

  7. Dear seekers of “Truth” from the Holy Scroptures,

    Mr.Bedard my post in which I informed you and the readers that would be my last was not approved and probably because of the length in which I added the 407 languages available at – http://www.watchtower.org/ -. I will not list them here but have made it known that “the Good News of the Kingdom” is being proclaimed on that web site in that many languages.

    I also commented on your last comment where you ignore much of what has been discussed in earlier comments about the star’s origin and when the true God intervend in there journey and what the true God’s input was at that time.
    I also added what is said at Colosians 2:8.9 as regards to what paying attention to traditions of MAN can lead to as opposed to letting the Bible help in interpretting it’s meaning itself:
    “8 Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry YOU off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ; 9 because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily. ” (Quoted form the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures)
    I invite all to use the web site cited above, http://biblize.com/ , to compare simultaniously other Bible versions to get evidence about those scriptures and traditios of MAN.

    Warm Christian Love,
    Randy

  8. You are correct, the reason it was not approved was the lengthy list of languages. Here is the problem I have:
    “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
    (Matthew 2:9–12 NIV)
    You deny that God would have led the wise men to Jesus because they were astrologers. Yet God does warn the wise men to avoid Herod, indicating that God did not have a problem speaking to astrologers. Secondly, the result of their being led to Jesus was that they worshiped him. If, as you say, Satan led them instead of God, we must ask: what was Satan’s agenda in getting people to worship Jesus?

  9. In another discussion you make this statement that will b e partially stated for direct emphasis, “… God is a God …” and in making that statement you, Mr.Bedard shine import on the name of God; (Tetragrammaton) most commonly accepted in English as Jehovah.
    Scriptural emphasis can be added by citing 1 Corinthians 8:5,6:
    “For even though there are those who are called “gods,” whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many “gods” and many “lords,” 6 there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.”
    Must leave at this momment.
    Warm Christian Love,
    Randy

  10. 2 Corinthians 4:4:
    3 If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, 4 among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.
    This is the God that led the travelers by the star!!!!

  11. Dear Mr.Bedard,

    No!!!! More accurately we know that worship is to be given only to the true God and Creator of all things. Jehovah is the true god and in regard to worship he demands exlusive devotion. The Hebrew word qan‧naʼ′ is used only of God; it means “exacting exclusive devotion; jealous.”—Ex 20:5
    It is as Isaiah was inspired to write at Isaiah 42:8:
    8 “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images.

    The star led them first to Herod as part of Satan’s scheme to have the seed spoken of in Genesis 3:15, the Messiah or Christ, destroyed. The Magi also did not worship the young child, Jesus was more near 2 years old and living in a house, when they arrived with gifts. They did “do obeisance to” the young child. An explanation of the translation is given in the Watchtower 1954 1/1 page 30 in answering “Qusetions form Readers which explains the translation of the Greek word proskyne′ō not as worship but more properly as “do obeisance to.”
    As to this being proper consider this:
    This is in harmony with the fact that this Greek verb proskyne′ō occurs many times in the Greek Septuagint Version of the Hebrew Scriptures and there this verb is used toward men, such as Joseph the son of Jacob and Boaz the benefactor of Ruth. In these latter cases proskyne′ō could not mean “worship” but merely bowing or doing obeisance to a person out of deep respect. So it must have been such outward show of respect that was paid to Jesus on earth, because he was viewed as being God’s representative, servant and prophet, and as the Son of David who was to be the Messianic King. The kings of ancient Israel were regularly bowed down to in obeisance. The New World Translation is not detracting from Jesus the Son of God by thus rendering this Greek verb as meaning the doing of obeisance to Jesus while on earth.
    I will cease at this point ANY furhter involvement discussing this further here and ask you if sincere ask any of Jehovah’s Witnesses as they engage in their public ministry aroungd the planet Earth to attempt to do what Jesus instructions to his disciples was at Acts 1:8:
    “8 but YOU will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon YOU, and YOU will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Ju‧de′a and Sa‧mar′i‧a and to the most distant part of the earth.”

    All the while doing this realizing what is said at Matthew 10:16-23:
    “16 “Look! I am sending YOU forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves. 17 Be on YOUR guard against men; for they will deliver YOU up to local courts, and they will scourge YOU in their synagogues. 18 Why, YOU will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations. 19 However, when they deliver YOU up, do not become anxious about how or what YOU are to speak; for what YOU are to speak will be given YOU in that hour; 20 for the ones speaking are not just YOU, but it is the spirit of YOUR Father that speaks by YOU. 21 Further, brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and will have them put to death. 22 And YOU will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name; but he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved. 23 When they persecute YOU in one city, flee to another; for truly I say to YOU, YOU will by no means complete the circuit of the cities of Israel until the Son of man arrives.”

    Warme Christian Love,
    Randy

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