Today, I received a comment for my blog posting on January 28, which was about the astronomical events regarding the Messiah. Ken asked me a question, which unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to answer his question without adding more questions to the mix. Here is Ken’s comment and a link to that blog entry:
“Terry, I hope you can 'splain me something. In my Bible, it says the wise men came from the East. Also, it says there was a bright shining star in the East that proclaimed the birth of our Lord, Jesus. Now to the explanation, how did the wise men from the East follow a star in the East and arrive where God had pointed them?
My only guess is that due to oral history as practiced in those times, a bit of misinformation got added in. We must remember, that during the time of Jesus' birth, maybe 2 percent of the people were literate.”
Now, in answer to his question, the “supposed” Bethlehem star acts just like most stars. Most stars, with Pole stars being an exception, rise in the East due to the rotation of the Earth. So, the wise men, or Magi, would have seen that “star” rise in the East and they would have followed it in its travel toward the West.
Now, I’m going to add some information from the website of “The Star of Bethlehem,” which will be of interest in that it raises more questions. The list below is the characteristics of the Star of Bethlehem which are gleaned from the 2nd chapter of Matthew.
- It signified birth.
- It signified kingship.
- It had a connection with the Jewish nation.
- It rose in the east, like other stars.
- It appeared at a precise time.
- Herod didn't know when it appeared.
- It endured over time.
- It was ahead of the Magi as they went south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
- It stopped over Bethlehem.”
(Whoa!!! Did you catch those last two characteristics? Also, just to toss this into the mix, the video “The Star of Bethlehem” explains how all 9 of the characteristics above came to be true of the astronomical event.)
Even though the Magi followed the star from the East, possibly from Babylon, and then after meeting with Herod, they followed the star towards the South to Bethlehem and the star stopped over Bethlehem.
Now, Bethlehem is only 5 or 6 miles south of Jerusalem, so it is possible that while the star was over Bethlehem and appeared to have stopped, it wouldn’t be hard to “follow” the star for that short distance. Keep in mind, until I have more of an understanding of the phenomena, I am merely speculating here.
Now, are you ready for another question? The following is also from the 2nd chapter of Matthew:
“10 And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him; and opening their treasures they offered unto him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.”
I would like you to notice in verse 11 where it says “they came into the house and saw the young child.” There is no mention of a stable or manger, and it refers to “young child” and not “a baby.” There is speculation that the arrival of the Magi may have been months after his birth because Greek translations refer to Jesus at this time as a “toddler.”
Now, for clarification purposes, I should mention that my Bible translation of choice is the American Standard Version of 1901 because it is the closest literal translation of the original languages of the Bible’s authors. When attempting to clarify something in the ASV, I tend to go to the New American Standard Version and then the New International Version.
I spend a fair amount of time on the website “Bible Gateway,” where one can choose to read in numerous translations, including the American Standard Version. As far as I can tell, the ASV is only published by Star Bibles. I happened to get my copy at A&D Bookstore in Amarillo, Texas back a few years ago. A&D Bookstore is a Christian bookstore with tons of literature and aids for Bible studies for all ages. Love the place.
So, I must now apologize to Ken that I’m not able to fully answer his questions and that I may have even added more to his thoughts. Perhaps as I study more, I can better answer. Until then, I can only suggest going to “The Star of Bethlehem” website and read the headings listed under “How to Use this Site.”
The text in those four major categories does a lot to explain more about the astronomical aspects of this whole story. Also, I should note that the author provides a lot of footnotes. May it be that you enjoy your research as much as I am enjoying mine.