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December 18, 2010

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Q: What are magi, anyway?

A: Nativity scenes around the world display them. Songs and poems have been written about them. They are featured in movies, plays, and Sunday school skits. They are some of the most recognizable figures in our culture as nearly everyone has seen images of three wise men riding on camels and following a star. Some have even gone so far as to name these guys. The book of Matthew contains the account of the wise men:

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 have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1–2)

The original meaning of mágoi is likely in view here—wise men who interpreted special signs. There are at least three reasons for this identification.

First, they acknowledged that they were interested in signs in the heavens. Second, the Bible states that they were from “the East,” which would be in the direction of Babylon and ancient Persia. Third, of all the peoples of “the East,” the Babylonians had many opportunities to learn of the Jewish Scriptures, which contain multiple promises of the coming Messiah. Daniel was an influential government official in Babylon about 600 years earlier, and he foretold the coming of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24–26). Also, tens of thousands of Jews lived in Babylon during the time of the Exile (605–536 BC), and they maintained a large presence there for the following centuries.

Continue reading to take a scriptural look at the magi—who, when, how, and how many—in this week’s issue of our new series, Clearing Up Misconceptions.

News to Note Quick Look

Math proves Darwin?: A new mathematical model “has offered even more evidence of the correctness of evolutionary theory.” So how does math “prove” evolution? Read more.

ET, where are you?: Evolutionists “know” life evolved on earth, and since earth “can’t be” unique (they say), life must have evolved elsewhere in the universe. So where is ET hiding? Read more.


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