I’m sure many of us while growing up have attended, or maybe even participated, in their school “Christmas play” which would take place around this time each year. It would officially herald the imminent December vacation and was always a joyous and eagerly anticipated event on the school calendar.
If you didn’t experience that, you more than likely have seen the images of the ‘Nativity Scene’, as it’s called, which depicts the people and events surrounding the birth of Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ).
I know that at my primary school it was one of the highlights of the year for both children and their parents.I can still vividly recall taking part in one or two of these plays.On both occasions I was part of the ‘angelic choir’ that would sing the carols during the course of the play. This wasn’t really because I could sing all that well either, but because I suffered from terrible stage-frightenitous! I was quite happy to be ‘camouflaged’ among the choir rather than face the spotlight, shaking like a leaf!
The most humorous part of all, to us boys anyway, was when the nominees to play the roles of Joseph and Mary were announced, which was normally always from the seniors of the School. Now as you can imagine, to play the role of Mary was probably every little girls dream come true, and if you have ever seen a little girl play house with her dolls, then you’ll appreciate how much it pleased them. Mary’s announcement was always met with shrieks of delight and joy by all the girls. As for the role of Joseph however, now that was a completely different matter! For most boys aged 12-13, the thought of playing husband to a girl and daddy to a doll was definitely not cool. I think even the boys who had absolutely no chance would anticipate the announcement with dread, because the ‘unfortunate’ chap to get the part was in for the worst derision by his mates over the next few days! Having avoided the bullet themselves, they would soon all be cracking the ‘lovey-dovey and doll’ jokes at his expense on a regular basis! And during the play itself, when ‘Joseph’ would need to comfort ‘Mary’ or the ‘Baby’, the chuckles from his mates in the audience could be clearly heard, leaving him looking terribly uncomfortable. It was all in good fun though, and his mates would of course slap him on the back afterward for a job well done!
The other big roles that always stood out for me though were those of the ‘Wise Men’ that would arrive in all their splendor having followed a moving Star all the way from the East, bearing gifts for the baby. The stark contrast of these richly dressed visitors and their humbly clad hosts; and these grand men then bowing down in reverence to the little baby, was both marvelous and very mysterious at the same time! And what about those gifts? I knew what Gold was of course, but Frankincense? Myrrh? The only Frankin-thing I had heard of at the time was Frankenstein! So you can just imagine the thoughts going through my young mind, “This stuff must be Supernatural and these men probably created Frankenstein and must be Super-Magicians or something!” One thing was definitely certain even then; the baby Yeshua must’ve been REALLY, REALLY special!
At this point in my life (11-12 years old), I was still mostly unaware of the great significance of Yeshua. Of course I had heard the ‘story’ of Yeshua by my Mom, who was a strong believer herself, but the fullness of the Gospel of Yeshua Messiah, had not yet been fully revealed in my heart and spirit. That was about to change very soon, but for now I was the average ‘ignorant’ child, just knowing the ‘stories’ as they were told, and what I’d learnt in Sunday School on the occasions that I would attend. I suppose like most children growing up in Christian households, we didn’t really spend much time actually reading the Bible itself, but just accepted what was taught. And this, I’m sure, is how many of us have acquired our ‘Biblical’ knowledge, never really taking the time to carefully search the Bible ourselves for the truth, because hey, we know the stories so well, right? Wrong!
While studying my Torah portion earlier this week, I again realised just how little we really know about the Scriptural Truth and how much we need to revisit and test our knowledge of those ‘stories’. The truth, you will certainly find, is far more detailed and often so very deeply prophetic of Yeshua Messiah! In this day and age when we have the tools to carefully examine almost everything, let us also begin to take up our Bibles and read the Scriptures for ourselves, and allow the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide us and impart the Scriptural truth upon our hearts! Just today, while busy with this article, the Holy Spirit again revealed even more truth about this event to me! He was urging me to search even deeper, and what I found was so amazing that I am just in absolute awe of the Greatness of our Elohim (God) and how precisely, to the smallest detail, He fulfils His promises! I am so VERY, VERY excited to share with you what I found!
But for now, let’s continue…
Please open your Bible at Matthew 2, and read from verse 1–23
And Yeshua (Jesus) having been born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, Magi from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, `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.’ 3 And Herod the king having heard, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him, 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ 7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the Magi, determined from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me that I may come and bow before Him also.” 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him:
Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of YHWH (the LORD) appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by YHWH through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the Magi, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.” 19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of YHWH appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
I will now share with you some of the amazing insight that I received while studying this Scripture. Much of what I received really blew me away, because it revealed just how poor my knowledge of this subject really was! Maybe something stood out as you were reading too– like being highlighted for the first time! How wonderful and exciting it is when the Ruach Ha’Kodesh (Holy Spirit) reveals and teaches the Word to us in this way! Hallelujah!
So then, as I was saying earlier,one of the most evocative images from any ‘Christmas’ scene must be that of the Magi (Wise Men) attending Yeshua’s birth, and the unusual Star that hovered over the stable where He was born. But so few people actually know what the Bible really says about this event.
When exactly did these Magi (Wise Men) arrive?
From the story as we know it, you’d probably say, “That’s obvious! They arrived at the time of Yeshua’s birth!” Really? Are you 100% sure of that? Read verse 1 again carefully; “having been” / “after” I’m sure you’ve probably never even taken much notice of that before, but “having been” simply means that it has happened. It does not necessarily imply the exact time it happened. This is an important point to note as we get further into this. Some Bible translations, like the NKJV and ISV begin verse 1 as follows; “Now after Jesus was born…” NKJV (New King James Version) “After Jesus had been born…” ISV (International Standard Version)
The fact is, all we know for certain from verse 1 is that Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, during the reign of King Herod, and that sometime afterward there came Magi to Jerusalem seeking this child. The actual journey of these wise men could quite possibly have taken much longer than first imagined. It would appear from Matthew 2:7 that the star, which the wise men had seen, had appeared at the moment of Yeshua’s birth. But the wise men had arrived after His birth. If they saw the star at the moment of Yeshua’s birth, then it could have taken even months for them to travel from the East all the way to Jerusalem. This was more than 2000 years ago after all; no planes, trains or cars back then, just slow going camels!
More clues as to the timing of their arrival in Jerusalem can be found in Herod’s questioning of the wise men. We should note that he wanted to know the exact time the star had appeared, more than likely to pinpoint the precise moment of this special child’s birth. He later proceeded to have all baby boys killed who were two years old and under. (Matthew 2:16). Don’t let this important piece of information go unnoticed, it provides a valuable clue and would indicate that Yeshua had been born up to two years earlier! Why order the execution of all boys aged two and younger if the wise men had arrived only a few days after the star had appeared in the East? That just doesn’t make sense!
No, Herod had enquired from the wise men the exact time of the star’s appearance and, from the decision he made, it becomes quite obvious it must’ve been about two years earlier! Wow! I almost fell off my chair when I realized that one! I’m sure the wheels are spinning in your head now too! With this information, our current ‘picture’ of the wise men arriving at the same time as the shepherds, who arrived the same day as His birth (Luke 2:11), suddenly seems completely false, now does it?
Now get ready for another clue that actually confirms this, and could surprise you even more! Indeed, Yeshua’s family was no longer in the stable; they were living in a house at that time! (Matthew 2:11). I’m pretty sure that statement really took you by surprise! I almost fell off my chair again when I read that too! Like I said earlier, when you first realize the story that everyone’s been told and believes is incorrect, you go, “No way! That can’t be right!” One thing’s for sure; a ‘house’ and ‘stable’ are definitely not the same thing! So, yet another important clue to solving the truth of these events, keep this one in mind as we proceed!
Let’s take this opportunity to examine what the Bible actually says about where Yeshua was born. The most detail given to us about this is found in Luke 2:6-16
6 So it was that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn. 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold,[b] an angel of YHWH (the Lord) stood before them, and the glory of YHWH shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Messiah (Christ), the Master. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising Elohim and saying: 14 “Glory to Elohim (God) in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them to heaven that the shepherds said to each other “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which Elohim has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
The first thing you’ll notice is that it doesn’t actually give us the exact location! “But wait a minute!” I hear you say, “Yeshua was born in the stable of the Inn that had no room for them!” Really? Are you 100% sure of that? Read verse 6 again carefully;
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn.”
Clearly the Scripture doesn’t specify which stable this was, to suggest it was this Inn’s stable is just speculation! Let’s examine the facts more closely;
We know from this Scripture that Joseph had no place to call ‘home’ in Bethlehem at the time, or he would’ve gone there instead of searching for a room at the Inn (Guest-House). This is an important point to note! The other very important thing to note is that the familiar story you probably know about of how the Inn-keeper took pity on them and offered his stable instead– is a complete fabrication! Nowhere in the Bible do we find this at all!
I’m pretty sure you were shocked by that statement too, but it’s the truth- go search for yourself, it’s not there! All the Scripture says is that Mary gave birth to Yeshua, wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger. Now, Indeed, a manger (a trough used for feeding animals) would definitely suggest that Yeshua was born in a stable– but which stable exactly? And what about those shepherds? How did they know where to go?
Remember I told you earlier of something the Ruach Ha-Kodesh had led me to that I was really excited to share with you? That ‘something’ deals precisely with this very question! But I don’t want to spoil the surprise quite yet, so please keep reading- it will be worth the wait!
Who were the Magi (Wise Men)?
The Greek word for the wise men is μαγοι, (Magi). It is from this word that we get our word Magician. At that time, the boundary between those who performed occult experiments and those who performed legitimate science would have been blurred. For example, early chemists were Alchemists, trying to change one substance into another by all sorts of methods, including incantations, but also included methods that would be recognized today as experimental chemistry. Similarly, these ‘Magicians’ could then probably be referred to as ‘Early Scientists’ in a broader sense.
Now what most people probably never even considered is that, as they came from the East, they could quite possibly have been associated with the Magicians mentioned in the book of Daniel. If this is the first time you’re hearing about this connection, the following will be an eye-opener!
In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar called for and spoke to people referred to as Magicians, Astrologers, Sorcerers and the Chaldeans. Because the Chaldeans are mentioned specifically here, let’s just get a short picture of who they were; At the time of Daniel, Babylon was the intellectual centre of western Asia, and the Chaldeans were renowned for their study and knowledge of astrology and astronomy. At the height of the Babylonian Empire the Chaldeans were an influential and highly educated group of people. Some historians believe that after Persia conquered Babylon, the term “Chaldean” was used more often to refer to a social class of highly educated (wise) people than to a race-group of men. The Chaldeans influenced Nebuchadnezzar’s decision to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:8) and were well known as wise men and astrologers during the time of Jewish captivity in Babylon. (Daniel 1:4, 2:10, 4:7, 5:7, 11).
The wise men that we’re referring to could very well be of the same group of people, don’t you think? There is some additional evidence for this below. But before continuing with who these wise men were, I want to ask you something. How many wise men were there? I hear you answer with certainty, “Three of course!” Really? Are you 100% sure of that? I urge you to search the Bible and look again!
In fact, we do not know how many there were. The word ‘Magi’ is plural, so there must have been at least two. However, there could have been many more! The legend has it that there were three (some even give their names), but it’s just that– a legend! The idea of three wise men may have developed because there were three types of gifts presented by the wise men to Yeshua. (Matt. 2:11) Sound logic will tell you though– three gifts doesn’t necessarily equal three wise men! Just wanted to show you again how much of the ‘factual story’ is actually not Scriptural at all! It really astounded me when I first became aware of all these errors, and how much we need to return to the Word of Elohim (God) for our Scriptural knowledge and understanding and not man’s! This is exactly why I am part of this group of ours studying ‘Torah’. We are seeking Elohim’s Word—His Truth!
Ok, so continuing with the wise men;
In Daniel 2, the collective of all the wise men of Babylon were unable to tell King Nebuchadnezzar his dream, never-mind attempting to interpret it! The king therefore threatened to have them all put to death. (Daniel 2:12). In fact, it would appear that the instruction to kill them had already begun when Daniel heard of it. (Daniel 2:13). Daniel and his fellows of Judah were already counted among the wise men, because they had been interviewed and found to be 10xs better than all the wise men of Babylon! (Daniel 1:18-20). Daniel’s inclusion among the wise men shows that the wise men were not necessarily occultists, as Daniel and his companions accepted their inclusion, although they had refused to eat the food sacrificed to idols in Daniel 1. When Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar his dream and its interpretation, which was an absolute miracle, he made clear that he was not able to do this because of his own wisdom, and that the wise men had been correct in stating that no man could do what the king had asked! Instead, Daniel gave glory to Elohim, stating that he could only do this amazing thing, because Elohim had revealed the dream and its interpretation to him. At the end of Daniel 2, we read that King Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon, who, presumably, were to be spared.
You can just imagine how word of this miraculous event must have spread throughout Babylon and especially amongst the wise men! I firmly believe that as a result, many, if not most, must’ve paid particular attention to ANYTHING Daniel had to say or write from that day on! I most definitely would!
How did the Wise Men know the significance of the star?
If we’re right about the identity of the wise men, this gives us a clue as to why they would know about the star. The star is mentioned in Numbers 24, and is prophesied by an unusual character, called Balaam. Balaam seems to have been a sort of traveling soothsayer, and as such was probably a sort of “ancestor” to the Babylonian wise men of Daniel’s time. He was based at Pethor, which is not only near the River Euphrates (Numbers 22:5), but also close to Babylon. Balaam was contracted by Balak to curse the Israelites. Balak was the king of Moab at that time, and the Israelites were moving through Moabite territory as part of their long sojourn to the Promised Land. The Israelites were not going to settle in Moab, so the Moabites had the opportunity, as had the Edomites and Amorites before them, to show hospitality to the Israelites and enable them to go on their way (Numbers 20:17-18; 21:22-23). Like the Edomites and Amorites, the Moabites were to disobey YHWH– but they were to do so by contracting this ‘Magi’ named Balaam. The account of what happened to Balaam— how he was commissioned, how he was warned about his behavior by YHWH, how YHWH rebuked him by making his donkey talk and how his every attempt to curse the Israelites simply led to them being blessed— can be found in Numbers 22 through 24. In one of Balaam’s attempts to curse the Israelites, he ended up uttering this prophecy;
“I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not soon—
A Star will step forth from Jacob,
a Sceptre will arise from Isra’el,
To crush the corners of Mo’ab,
And destroy all descendants of Shet.”
In one sense, the prophecy applies to Israel itself, particularly with reference to David’s conquest of the Moabites (2 Samuel 8:2). However, the concept of the Sceptre, a symbol of kingship, refers not only to David, but to David’s greater son, and refers back to Genesis;
The Sceptre will not pass from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
to whom obedience belongs;
And it is He whom the peoples will obey.”
This passage from Genesis refers to the coming Messiah, to be descended from Judah. So, by inference, we can suggest that Numbers 24:17 also refers to the coming Messiah. If Balaam is the ancestor of the wise men of Babylon, then it is quite likely that these wise men knew about Balaam’s oracle. It would also make sense that Daniel could have spoken to them about this, especially as Daniel himself prophesied much about the Messiah. (Daniel 9:25-26) Evidence for this link between Daniel’s wise men and Balaam is underlined by reference to what the wise men did not know, as well as what they did. They knew about Balaam’s messianic prophecy, and possibly Daniel, but not that of Micah;
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the clans of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
If they had known about Micah, they would have proceeded directly to Bethlehem and not have travelled to Jerusalem instead. After all, if they understood the significance of Numbers 24 and possibly Genesis 49, they would certainly have known what Micah was talking about! This brings up another important point for you to consider, and begs the question— if the Star which they had first seen appear in the East had been leading them to the birthplace of Yeshua— why did they end up at Jerusalem? Instead they had to be told about this by the chief priests and scribes in Jerusalem, especially as these chief priests coupled Micah 5:2 with a reference to Genesis 49:10, as adapted in 2 Samuel 5:2.
One final piece of evidence for this Babylonian wise men connection is the implication that the wise men must’ve already been looking for and anticipating the star! Why else would they be looking for a star that announces the birth of the King of the Jews, Yeshua Messiah, at that particular period of time? Or had they been looking for such a star for centuries? The latter idea seems unlikely. If these wise men were the Babylonian wise men formerly led by Daniel, then they were probably well aware of Daniel’s prophecies, including Daniel’s reference to the timing of the coming of the Messiah, in Daniel 9.
What was the star?
We are first told this by the wise men: “We have seen His star in the East.” The wise men knew that this was not just any star. It was His star— that is, the star of the Messiah. This also indicates that they knew the prophecies in Numbers 24 and Genesis 49. But where did the star appear? This is generally taken literally of course, and is most probably the correct way to interpret it– but there is something else it could also mean because of the word used in the Greek. The word for East here is ανατολη (anatolē). This actually means a rising of light, and only means East by implication. (take note of that) This could imply then that the phrase is referring to the Messiah as the ‘Morning Star’. This would fit perfectly, for example, with what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19, and with Yeshua’s own declaration of Himself in Revelation 22:16.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God[c] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19)
16 “I, Yeshua, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16)
The Morning Star is also a reference to the planet Venus, when it appears in the morning, but the star of the Messiah cannot be Venus, or any other planet, for reasons outlined below. I would suggest that this star is not an astronomical object. Let us examine what this star actually did. The star appeared at the moment of Yeshua’s birth, and was visible to the wise men in Babylon. If they saw the star rise over Israel, from their perspective in Babylon, it would indicate that the star was not astronomical, because stars do not rise in the West— they rise in the East. If it rose in the East, then it must’ve been special, because star-gazers like these wise men would not have had any difficulty recognizing the planet Venus, due its cyclical appearance.
Now get ready for another shocker—they just seem to keep coming don’t they! I trust you’re enjoying this as much as I did when receiving it— to receive the Truth is just so wonderful, Amen!
Traditional images show the wise men travelling over the desert, following a star, right? However, Matthew 2 does not say that they followed the star to Israel. In fact, it would appear, from their reaction, that the star was newly re-appeared! (Matthew 2:9-10):
9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
It had first appeared to them in the East, then suddenly again here at Jerusalem—from where it then proceeded to move and come to rest above the house where Yeshua, Joseph and Mary lived. The story of it guiding them across the desert to Jerusalem is not found in Scripture. It also doesn’t account for their complete surprise and exceedingly great joy when they saw it again! Their reaction would definitely seem to indicate and support the star newly appeared—not one that they had been following for nearly two years! Secondly, how could a star in the universe go before the wise men? It could not! Bethlehem is to the East of Jerusalem. Stars do not move east; they move west! Also, stars do not tend to settle over houses, as this one did. In fact, the Greek word which has been translated here as star, aster (αστερα), implies something that is strewn. What could it be that could move easily, from West to East, if need be, and appeared as strewn light?
A good candidate for this phenomenon would be the pillar of fire:
“Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, And by night with a pillar of fire, To give them light on the road Which they should travel.” (Nehemiah 9:12)
This effect is seen in the presence of YHWH at the Tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34-38):
34 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of YHWH filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of YHWH filled the tabernacle. 36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of YHWH was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their travels.
This effect is known as the Shechinah glory of YHWH, from the Hebrew word for rested (in Exodus 40:35), shâkan (שׁכן). Because this Shechinah glory was a light that could move, and could point to the presence of Elohim, I would suggest that the star mentioned in Matthew 2 was not an astronomical object, but actually the appearance, after a few hundred years’ absence, of the Shechinah glory of YHWH! When you consider the significance and prophetic picture of the Tabernacle—how it all points to Yeshua—then you’ll realize why this suggestion may well be closer to the truth, than that of it being an actual star!
Of Interest– Who was Herod?
Herod clearly considered himself to be the King of the Jews. Therefore, the wise men’s question in Matthew 2:2 would have greatly disturbed him. Indeed, not only the king was troubled, but Jerusalem as a whole, as well. (Matthew 2:3). King Herod clearly knew that the title ‘King of the Jews’ did not properly belong to him. Herod was Jewish by choice only. He was not Jewish by descent; he was Edomite. This ties in neatly with prophecy, because we have already seen that in Numbers that the Edomites were rejected by Elohim because of their inhospitable attitude to the Israelites. However, Herod had chosen to be Jewish by practice, as had most other Edomites of the time.
This was convenient for him. He was selected to be ‘King of the Jews’ by the Roman Senate, which means that he was really a puppet of the Roman occupiers. As an adopted Jew, he had the Second Temple rebuilt and enhanced— so much so that it is now often referred to as ‘Herod’s Temple’. With this use of his position vis-a-vis the Temple, he must have known the messianic significance of the title ‘King of the Jews.’ For Herod and the Roman Senate to have used that title, they had to know that the title had significance. It is no wonder that he was troubled when he heard about the birth of the real King of the Jews, accompanied by this miraculous star. By his actions, we know that Herod was brutal. He knew that the King of the Jews was someone who he ought to worship, which is why he pretended that he wished to do so in Matthew 2:8. The wise men also knew that this person was the one to be worshiped (Matthew 2:2). In his questioning of the chief priests and scribes, Herod shows that he knew that the real King of the Jews was to be the Messiah (Matthew 2:4).
As a Jew by adoption, why did he not actually want to worship the Messiah? Why did he want to destroy Him instead? It is likely that this is because he knew that his own title was blasphemous. He was not really interested in worshiping as a Jew. He was interested in power, and his assumption of kingship with a Messianic title, as well as his work on the Temple, was part of this pursuit of power. Therefore, he would resort to any length to keep his blasphemous title and position. So hungry for power was he that he was prepared to have hundreds of innocent children slaughtered in his vain attempt to have the new Messiah destroyed!
In this more Scriptural, Biblical scenario then; The wise men reached Bethlehem about two years after the birth of Yeshua. There could have been any number of wise men, three is just speculation, more likely there were multiple! They were most probably representatives / descendents of the wise men of Babylon. They were definitely aware of the promised Messiah, more than likely from intensely studying the writings of Daniel, especially the one’s about the Messiah, but surely also all the Scriptures of the Elohim he served. Also they had the oracle of their ‘founder’, Balaam.
Under Daniel’s example and influence, many of them had no doubt turned from their paganism to the worship of the true Elohim– Their intention was to seek the Messiah, in order to worship Him, remember! They were unaware, however, that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, because Micah’s prophecy was received many years later and many miles away, back in Israel. They knew to make their journey because of an appearance of the ‘star’—the Shechinah glory of YHWH.
It would also seem that the Shechinah glory of YHWH had appeared to them in the East, then suddenly again at Jerusalem where it proceeded to move and rest above the house where Yeshua, Joseph and Mary lived. The story of it guiding them across the desert to Jerusalem is not Scriptural— and doesn’t account for their complete surprise and joy when they saw it again! Yeshua, Mary and Joseph were now residing in a house, not the stable. And which stable was that exactly? The Inn-keeper story is a complete lie! The amazing information that deals with this specifically, as I promised to share with you earlier is here:
Please read this! It is absolutely ASTONISHING!
I feel so blessed to have had the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) lead me to this! I know that you will too! Putting all this into context, we can see that the events of Matthew 2 as they’ve been told in ‘story form’ are in many cases not Scriptural at all, and that our traditional ‘Christmas’ card scene is largely incorrect. These were just some of the things that were revealed to me, and I’m sure that much more could be found and revealed by the Ruach Ha-Kodesh concerning this event.
The one thing I hope you have found here— just as I did, is that we need to open our Bibles and read from the Word of Life for ourselves! Let us test all things through His Word, especially the stories we ‘know’ so well.
In closing I would like to leave you with the following:
In worshiping the Messiah, these wise men made a prophecy of their own in their choice of gifts:
Gold: A gift for a king— the King of kings!
Frankincense: This is incense, the burning of which represents prayer. It is used by priests, and indicates the priestly nature of the Messiah.
Myrrh: A fragrant perfume, used in embalming bodies. The inclusion of this gift can be seen as prophetic of the death of the Messiah.
The three gifts together underline the Messiah’s role as our KING, HIGH-PRIEST and SACRIFICIAL LAMB!
Our response should therefore be as that of the wise men themselves:
To worship the Messiah, Yeshua—
Our King who reigns forever!
Our High-Priest, now before our Father in Heaven interceding for us!
Our Perfect and Ultimate Sacrificial Lamb who took away our sin, and redeemed us through his blood!
Praise be to Him, forever and ever, Amen!
Adapted from an article written by Paul Taylor, Creation Today: