Sunday, January 5, 2014
Matthew 2:1-12 Who are the three wise men?
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
In this passage we see that Matthew, unlike Luke, has Magi, or Wise men visit Jesus instead of poor shepherds. What is significant is that Matthew is highlighting Jesus' royal lineage. In Matthew's account he is brought expensive treasures of gold, myrrh and frankincense. Some scholars believe these wise men, or magoi (greek), are likely priests from the Zoroastrianism tradition since the term magoi describes a Zoroastrian priest. Tradition holds that these wise men from the East are named: Melchior, Casper, and Balthazar. In reality no one really knows the identity of the wise men or if there were even wise men. What is clear is that Matthew's theological framework of portraying Jesus as the King of the Jews explains the presence of Maggi in his birth narrative.