Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When Did The Magi (Wise Men) Arrive At The "Manger"? - Matthew 2 Bible Commentary

Many Nativity Scenes give off the false idea that the Magi (sometimes translated Wise Men) arrived at the manger immediately after the shepherds did. This is far from the truth. Scripture indicates that the Magi did not find the Christ until about two years after he was born.

The Gospel of Matthew (the only Gospel which includes the story of the Magi) explains that the Magi began their journey to find the Christ when they saw His star rise (Matthew 2:2). From Matthew 2:2 and Matthew 2:7, it can be concluded that the star first rose at the time of Jesus' birth. The Magi's journey lasted about two years, a duration which can be found by piecing together Matthew 2:7 and Matthew 2:16.
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. (Matthew 2:7, emphasis added)
Later, in Matthew 2:16, Herod orders all boys two years or younger in Bethlehem to be killed, which means the star must have appeared two, or perhaps three years from the time of Jesus' birth (I say "perhaps three years" because some of those killed who were two years old would have been close to three complete years of age).
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16, emphasis added)
Another false idea that many Nativity Scenes give off is that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were still in the manger when the Magi arrived. This idea, after a little thought, will quickly become absurd. Over the two years that the Magi traveled, surely Joseph and Mary would have been able to find a house! Thankfully, Scripture directly tells us that they found one:
And going into the house they [the Magi] saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11, emphasis added)
So the question, then, of when the Magi arrived at the manger, would be better asked like this: When did the Magi arrive at Jesus' house? The answer to which is, of course, (as already clearly shown) about two years.

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