star of bethlehem
DECEMBER 25, 2022
Surely you've heard dozens of ideas & theories of what this star could have been, and have seen dozens over the past 50 years researching this important event. However, if we apply several verses of Chapter 2 from the Gospel of Matthew, we have a criteria from Scripture of what look for:
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, during the reign of King Herod
This is important for fixing a time. Some say Herod died in 4 BC, so consider 5 BC or 6 BC as possible years for the birth of Christ. Another school of thought indicates 1 BC, which then has 2 BC or 3 BC as possible birth years. The facts below are the basis for a 3 BC consideration.
The Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
Somehow these gentlemen's roles were altered over time to be labeled as "kings" or even something to do with magic. The Magi in Babylonian text were referred to as an ancient tribe of learned men who consulted rulers in what is now Iran & Iraq. The earliest mention of the Magi in this role was a court astronomer who warned King Sargon of Akkad (Sargon the Great) of an impending invasion in 2261 BC - which actually did occur...!
So well known for their wisdom, no member of the Median royal family could even become king until he mastered the scientific & religious knowledge of the Magi, known as the Law of the Medes. King Nebuchadnezar had a court full of Magi, and besides making Daniel Prime Minister, also made him Chief Magus (chief of all his wisemen) when Daniel was able to retell & interpret the king's dream when his other wisemen couldn't. (More on Daniel & the Magi later).
Keep in mind these Magi came from an area that was the arch-rival of the Roman Empire in the east. For these men to even enter a territory occupied and ruled by Rome would be like a busload of German philosophers taking a trip all around Verdun, France in 1916.
Matthew 2:2 (and the Magi asked) "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?"
This question tells us three elements they were able to ascertain by the star: An important BIRTH, an important KINGSHIP, and an important factor concerning the JEWS. This question by the Magi raises another question. Why would wise men from Elam, the Median or Babylonian Empires even be interested in the birth of a Jewish king? (This again may have something to do with Daniel, as we know he kept his faith that naturally was passed down to the later followers of the Magi class.)
We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
The wise men didn't mean "We saw his star while we were in the east." The Greek text states the star was "en anatole", meaning they saw his star rising in the east. So, we can conclude the star of Bethlehem rises in the east like all stars (& planets) do.
The fact the Magi came to worship the newborn king tells us their motive: To worship the Jewish King who is the Messiah. Philo Judaeus, the Jewish philosopher (20 BC? - 40 AD) who blended Scripture with Greek philosophy suggested these Magi traveling to Jerusalem were most likely descendants of those Jews who remained in Babylon from the time of Daniel - and kept the search for the Birth of Christ going.
Judaeus also referred to these following verses in Psalms as being significant, pointed out that the verbs David uses notes celestial events are a form of communication with heaven:
Declare, Speech, Language, Voice, Words -
as you can see, verb after verb in each line points out a type of COMMUNICATION with the heavens.
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all of Jerusalem with him.
Of course he was disturbed...he was terrified. At this time all the Roman troops Emperor Augustus had in Judea were off in the north, and here comes an entourage of Magi from the east with metaphysical signs & scripture (confirmed by Daniel) wondering where the new King of the Jews was....this was a military, political, religious, & supernatural problem dumped on his doorstep without warning. (Except as we know there was a prophecy in King Herod's library - overlooked by the Pharisees in Jerusalem, but then later confirmed.)
King Herod was not Jewish but an Edomite, and was made king by the Romans since he excelled in the two qualities the Romans valued most in their puppet state rulers: collecting taxes & keeping the peace. When King Herod is disturbed, all of Jerusalem would be too, for they all knew, when King Herod panics, lots of people end up dead.
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
This tells us two things, the star appeared at an exact time, and Herod didn't know when it appeared or knew of it....
He had to ask.
This would indicate that whatever was in the sky was a natural phenomena - that is, it was not a comet, supernova, alien spacecraft of anything out of what was already known to be in the sky - otherwise (believe me) these things would have not only been the talk of the town, but well documented and written down.
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
From this we can also conclude:
1.) The star endured over a period of time (seen in the east & when they arrived in Jerusalem)
2.) It moved as they left Jerusalem.
3.) The star stopped over Bethlehem.
Based on all the verses of Scripture above, it can be deduced the Star of Bethlehem was indeed a known celestial occurrence. Can celestial and planetary motion create the three points above, or is there some super natural event taking place?
First, let's take away any "magic" narratives often associated with this story. Cam a star - or in this case, a planet - stop?
Planets can, and actually the word planets come from the Ancient Greeks calling them πλάνητες ἀστέρες or "wandering stars". The reason being planets often move in an irregular pattern when we on earth "pass" them since our orbit is faster. Note the apparent path of Jupiter as we on earth move past in on our one year orbit next to Jupiter's 12 year "yearly cycle".
In the same way you pass a car on the highway and it appears to stop or even be moving backwards due to what is called apparent motion. The other car is not moving backwards of course, it is only moving slower. The same with planets. When the earth passes Jupiter (as seen above) for a while it appears from our perspective to stop, and even move backwards as we zip past it in our own orbit.
Jupiter was used in the above example for a reason. In September, 3 BC the view of the night sky in Babylon, Jupiter (the largest planet) was next to Regulus. Regulus was called Sharu in ancient Babylonian times, meaning "king", the Romans called it Rex, which means "king", and is the king star in many other cultures as well. So Jupiter (the king planet) comes very close to Regulus (the king star). Is this a big deal? Not really, Jupiter passes through the sign of Leo (where Regulus is located) approximately every 12 years.
However, due to declination & a host of other variables (planets do not orbit on the exact same plane with each orbit) this time - this one rare time in human history - came together very, very, close - about as close together as you can get.
Plus something else unique occurred, Jupiter retrograded (appeared to move backwards) three times around the King Star:
OK, so if you were a Magi, and you saw this, you definitely have some indication that KING is in play here. However, where do we get King of the Jews? Of the twelve Jewish tribes, which one does the Messiah come from?
And what is the animal symbol for this tribe of Judah?
In Revelation, the "rod of iron" mentioned is also a sign of royalty, today known as a sceptre, or an ornamental staff that is symbolic of sovereignty.
Revelation 12.1 has always been fascinating for those who stargaze. Earlier we covered how this constellation configuration occurred in September 2017. Could this also describe the birth of Christ or the birth of Israel as a nation? As we used to say in Bible Study at the Shady Grove Baptist Church in Rains County - yes, and yes. In September 3 BC we do have a woman, Virgo (the Virgin) clothed with the Sun and the Moon at her feet:
If the Red Dragon is Satan, working through King Herod to devour the child, this would also be consideration for this being another circumstance of what is in the sky happening on earth at the time of Christ's birth.
So if all this is in September, what's with December 25th...?
One of the earliest mentions was from Sextus Julius Africanus (180 - 250 AD) who dated Christ's conception on March 25th (the day he held that the world was created as well), so nine months after that would be a December 25th birth. In 336 AD Emperor Constantine began formally celebrating Christmas on December 25th in what some felt was more of a political move, attempting to Christianize the most popular of ancient Roman festivals: Saturnalia (think Mardi Gras times 100 in madness & debauchery).
However, if we consider the movement of Jupiter in 3 BC,
on December 25th is when it stopped in the sky (it was just about to start moving backwards again). Was this the time it stopped for the Magi while approaching Bethlehem? True, Herod told them to try Bethlehem after finally finding an old prophecy, but remember, they still followed the star, until it stopped:
One more note about King Herod, it was not a totally original order to order the death of all baby boys in a certain candidate range. In 63 BC another sect of Magi (yes, there were good ones & bad ones like with everything else) made a presentation to the Roman Senate that a new ruler was being born who would cause great difficulty in one of their vassal states. So besides being a Roman precedent for this sort of thing, this would be another reason all of Jerusalem was disturbed as well....the news the Magi bought from the east was a foreshadowing of massive bloodshed of the innocent.
Finally, if you were a star gazer in ancient Babylon nine months before all this activity, there was something in the sky that might have attracted your attention - the brightest star ever seen before in human history - except it wasn't a star - but Venus & Jupiter coming together so close together (sound familiar?) that they did not overlap or cancel each other out, but appeared as one giant star. Was this the conception?
Whatever the Star of Bethlehem was, in my opinion, if it was indeed a combination of natural occurrences in the great celestial timepiece in the sky, then this is just as much of a miracle as if it was something metaphysical or some unusual phenomena. For it reveals that all of this was part of God's plan from the very beginning....
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