Meta: Looking at the origins behind the Three Wise Men.
The Three Wise Men are basically one of the oldest stories of the adventures that can be had while out on a road-trip and while you may not get to meet the future savior, you most certainly can have the time of your life. The Three Kings have been a staple of the Nativity scene for many of us growing up and yet there seems to be some contention regarding their origins
For example, the exact number of the wise men is a disputed fact, especially as in the Gospel of Matthew there is no given number of the wise men. A further perplexing fact is that the Gospel of Matthew is the only one out of the four Gospels to mention the wise men, at all. However while the second question’s answer is not clear, the first is much easier to solve. Although in truth the number of holy travelers would have been closer to twelve, the number of three was more likely than not chosen to correspond with the number of gifts given to baby Jesus – namely gold, frankincense and myrrh.
However, while the number is not known for certain other things are a lot less uncertain, for example, while the Bible does not say that the wise men are in fact kings, we often refer to them as kings. They likely could have been Kings of Yemen; these leaders at the time were Jewish. Furthermore is that these men are also often referred to as Magi this title indicates that not only were they men of very high rank but they were also very well educated, possibly even within the fields of astrology which would explain why they were able to navigate the stars so well. That and GPS’s just hadn’t been invented yet.
If these men who were immensely educated and held remarkable sway within their own communities and amongst other nations, saw an astrological phenomenon within the sky and knew within their souls that this had to do with the birth of the future King, then this would have been taken extremely seriously. Hence, why it was so imperative that they did not return to King Herod upon finding the baby Jesus to tell him of the babies location, as King Herod wanted to annihilate any competition to his throne, this was especially true since his birth caused an astrological phenomenon.
There has been much debate as to what the astrological phenomenon could have been, whether it was a meteor shower, a supernova or the alignment of planets have all been theorized as possible sources for the light source that guided the magi to the baby Jesus. Each of the wise men has had multiple legends or tales written around him, but they each represent one of the gifts given to Jesus. For example, Balthazar the King of Egypt represented the gift of myrrh, while Gaspar the King of Sheba represented frankincense and Melchior the King of Arabia represented gold.
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Wise men with camels:
Color statues of wise men:
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