The Mystery of The Magi and Their Gifts
Dr. Stephen Newdell
December 12, 2018
Abu stirred in his bed, and suddenly woke to the sound of fluttering wings in his window. It was his sky blue breasted sparrow. Brown upper body and beautiful light sky blue underside. She was wild but had become like a pet. He felt affection for her. He left grain seeds in a cup at his window and another cup of water, and her fluttering wings woke him gently.
But this had been a bad night.
He lay quietly recalling, a very long trip. He did not need assistance from the great code books to tell him what a long trip meant. It portended a journey and meeting of friends. But such a long journey, a journey of a lifetime! His dream….
This dream took him across more than a-thousand miles of Persian and Arabian dry dunes and then north along the great Tigress and Euphrates Rivers, West again to Aleppo, and South to Jerusalem – the fabled city he had heard of hundreds of times but never visited, the fabled city of ancient kings who worshiped a God of gods, that no one dared to blaspheme for death might come and without warning. Jerusalem, the city of great wisdom. This God Yah, much the same, perhaps the same as their own Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), was first explained by the ancient prophet Zoroaster who informed them of a world view of good and evil. A final terrible conflict, filled with mystery and wonders, with evil ending at last some time in the far future.
It seemed assured Abu would meet with the others and discuss a journey of journeys, a voyage on camel back across uncharted territory, guided by stars and wisdom so ancient no one knew who the earliest sages were or how they learned what they taught. Some said they were gods who came to us from beyond the moon, and remained in Egypt. No one knew for certain.
Abu only realized this dream would lead them to meet the dearest friends anyone ever knew, but he did not know them. How then might he have occasion to meet them? It was a clear message, and yet mysterious.
In his mind’s eye he saw the desert sands rushing endless to the horizon lit by moonlight. His eyes became accustomed to the darkness. A younger man could even see by star light.
Star light. That was …. that was it! That was what made him toss in the night and so violently it pulled at his white beard. It was three stars in the constellation of Aires the Ram! So perhaps this was the sign he had been awaiting all of his life.
Somehow he knew from his youth there would be something portending a magnificent change over the entire world and he would be part of this change. He knew not what, where or when. or his condition, or if it would cost him nothing or everything. He knew only it was to come and was his most important step toward his higher wisdom. He would be required to step into this in complete faith. Like leaping, as the cards said, like leaping naked, in the dark off a cliff trusting the impossible to take him where an earthy man could never go without the power of the gods to take him there. The leap was the ultimate test of trusting to land safely, clothed anew, in a new place, a new time, a different culture, in a new beginning. It was at once deeply frightening and magnificent.
Opening his eyes to gaze at the hand smoothed mud ceiling and the tiled walls, he could hear farm workers beginning the day. Oxen were lowing. The scent of the air was filled with growing plants and promise of another beautiful spring and summer and another harvest, and of course tribute sent to the king.
April was such a beautiful time of year in Persia. The military was far from his community. He never saw them and wanted never to hear of their exploits. He knew they were ruthless, that pain and torture were their weapons of choice. That was already too much for him. He did not want to know anything more. He wanted only to grow the grain and vegetables, see the animals fit and healthy, pay tribute to the king, and live his quiet life in worship and study.
He had buried his last wife two years before in the winter cold, and still the memory saddened him. She was in her 56th year, complained of back pain in the lower quarters. The pain spread into her hips, down the backs of her legs. His examination indicated a tumor in the lower abdomen. He provided what medicines he knew but – at long last her suffering had ended. His loneliness was inconsolable. There was nothing left for him but to bury his mind in the study of the ancient texts and a long study of star movements. Jupiter was destined for a change seen only very rarely.
“Jupiter, oh ye King of the gods, ruler of Sagittarius tolerant and expansive star of broader purpose, reach, and grand possibilities, portent of good luck and prosperity. What will you show me just before the dawn? Will mine eyes see it? I should live so long….
“I should live so long to see the expected Messiah! Could I be so blessed? What a thought. But in my bones I feel it, this idea is calling me.”
In mid-April Jupiter will appear. This year he did not expect anything so unusual. It was too soon after his dream. But next AAvrIl آوریل (āvrīl) he felt something magnificent would come with the reflected sun from Jupiter.
“I must require the other high priests here for discussions. It will be 10-evenings and mornings. My servants in the house and the field-master must be informed of course. There is a lot of work to do. I shall begin today sending a messenger to the others.”
September brought cooler air and a promise of rest for men and beasts. The harvest would be completed soon, and the shortening day would be good for the animals. The young grew quickly in the resting winter when they could be kept warm and well fed. But the camels would know little rest this year. Nearly 85 of them were lined up one behind the other along the dusty road. Men were busy packing, checking the loads on the animal’s backs. Boys were bringing more food and water for camels and men and the 12-comfort slave women who waited quietly at the back of the parade. Men could become constricted and sick without them. The comfort slaves were as necessary as all other supplies. And of course there were foods and herbs to prevent pregnancy.
It was expensive to keep these beauties. The healer required for them sun dried citrus fruits, Ginger (Adrakh), Apricot (Khubani), Dried Fig (Anjeer)
Cinnamon (Dalcheeni), Asafoetida (Hing), Parsley (Ajamoda), and something similar to Papaya. The women would chop these into a fine mixture, and eat a little bit of it every evening. Grains in the day, and this mixture before sleeping. These generally prevented pregnancy.
But, this travel was going be on a different time table. They would set forth with the setting sun, and settle anywhere they might find shadows as the early light turned the horizon into silver and searing white heat.
With the settling, men would come to the women, 8 or 10 through the day. They slept through some of what happened, and they slept sitting fallen forward on the camels hugging baggage. It was a terrible life but it was the woman’s life for slaves in Persia. They prayed for rescue one day.
Perhaps in one of the cities they might run away in the night while the caravan took a few day’s rest. Mixing fruits with grains would cause them intestinal gas. One would say, I must be left alone to relieve myself, and then behind sand and rocks she would go and suddenly when no one would see, she disappeared down clay and stone streets and alleys, into the crowded market. There she would find other women to hear her story and take her in to work and live away from the caravan, which she knew would travel on soon enough.
The languages were similar and the closer they got to Jerusalem the more familiar the vocabulary became. It sounded more and more like what they knew of their great grandmother’s tongue. In this way they could slip into a new society and disappear to rest and restore body and mind.
The camels groaned and growled, sometimes spit and tried to bite. The leader men walked and had to be quick to avoid injury. Dealing with camels was no small matter.
At the front of the caravan were Magi, high priests of wisdom and astrology. The lead three included Abu, now age 65, Dabiri about age 38, and Javid the brilliant 14-year-old boy-man who remembered everything in a first reading and somehow applied it to everything else he knew to make sense of it all.
Months of travel took them to Baqubah, north of Baghdad, then North West to Samarra, a filthy backwater where two of the women took ill saying it was after drinking the water. They smelled awful. No one wanted anything to do with them. In the early light settling, word spread now there were just 8 women of the 12 with them. One or two men shook their head. One or two snickered. No one cared. With the setting sun they rose up again and began to follow north along the Tigris River. At Mosul they cross the river moving West another 246 miles toward Aleppo. Locals told them where to cross the river Euphrates.
At the lead The Magi were watching the rising Jupiter, Venus, the moon and the sun, all crossing Aires The Ram, pointing the way, higher and higher overhead. Their destination was to be under these stars but one brightest in particular; Jupiter.
Jupiter King of the gods, would guide them to the culmination of a grand story of courage and wisdom. But, this could be achieved only by trial, hard effort, and arduous travel.
From Aleppo they turned south following other traders going another 188 miles to ancient Damascus, another 111 miles to Amman, then one more day, 44 miles to Jerusalem!
Supplies were running out, the men were saying they never wanted to travel by caravan again. Many said they were ready to make new lives in Amman. Several women were sick, exhausted and looked 10-years older than they had a year earlier. Two women consented to settle with one of the younger men near Amman. The caravan would not likely make the trip back. After a trip of more than a thousand miles and loss of several people and animals, the lives of the lead Magi were at risk. They had entered the territory overseen by Rome and King Herod the Terrible.
King Herod, who had arranged the murder of one wife, several sons, and numerous political opponents. Herod the Lunatic King given to fits of rage, was suffering with gangrene of the genitals, chronic kidney disease, intense itching, pain in the intestines, convulsions and paranoia. His abdomen was in pain most of the time. Sometimes drugs could reduce his pain but they left him sleepy, listless, morose, filled with hate and feeling angry with the world.
He was going crazy, and now he heard three foreigners were wandering around the Temple asking, “Where is he that is born King of The Jews.” This king was by no means pleased!
The Magi went to the fabled Temple, seeking the priests, listening for any gossip or rumor. Words drifted to them about Nasserians, taxation, Bethlehem, the foot hills of Mount Carmel, caves at Qumran. It was closer but confusing. Their question was so simple, and so dangerous.
“Where is he who was born to be King of The Jews?”
All the educated men knew there was a prophecy expecting this child, but no one knew exactly when. The prophet said this child would grow up to be a king who would free the Jewish people from the clutches of Rome, and Herod, or his sons, would not be king of Judea if Rome were not supporting him!
Herod’s spies heard about these men wearing pointed hats, tunics, and trousers, asking these questions. When they reported the news Herod demanded these strangers be brought before him. Soldiers conducted the men through the old slim gray stoned city streets to stand before Herod the monster. “When you find the child, return to me and say where I can meet the family and worship him. I shall reward you handsomely for your advice. I must do this before my end comes.”
The Magi were watching everything, Herod, and the skies, and listening to their dreams. Looking up they observed, Jupiter moved across the sky deep into Aires and then turned back! But from the perspective of the other moving stars it appeared to stand still and remained almost directly overhead! The year was, on our calendar, 6 BC, (owing to a few mistakes in the Gregorian calendar’s development by its writer Dionysus.)
The visiting shepherds were long gone. The child had been born in April, 6 BC, and probably was born the early evening, at the time when a star that meets the prophecy of The Star of Bethlehem first appeared rising above the horizon. That star would have been Jupiter on April 17th. Our astronomy computer programs can pinpoint the day to precisely the hour. But now at the time the Magi were in Jerusalem, the baby was in his 9th month, and keeping his mother busy.
There were enough hints and another dream that each of the three Magi had, likely at the same time. They all woke at the same time and all confirmed the same vision. They had heard enough. They were afraid of Herod and wanted to put distance between themselves and him.
The sun would set soon. With the growing darkness they would follow Jupiter yet again. They knew they must be very close. The star had been going “before” or “ahead” of them, but now it stopped and they were walking to be directly beneath it! Jupiter, The regal god and king of gods, “creator of kings” was pointing to his new king, or so astrologers of Zoroaster might have thought.
According to Professor Michael R. Molnar at Rutgers University: “I’m an astronomer, not an astrologer,” Molnar says. “I had to learn what astrologers of two thousand years ago would have looked for in the sky for the birth of the king of the Jews.”
His research suggested that a moon passing in front of Jupiter (an occultation in astronomical terms), while it was in the zodiacal territory of Aries the Ram. This twinkling, would signal the birth of an important king of the Jews. Professor Molnar calculated that such a rare occultation, with Jupiter as a morning star (“in the east”), occurred in 6 BC on April 17. “Then I knew I had the answer to the Star of Bethlehem,” he said.
December 19, Jupiter stood directly over Bethlehem. Now, the question could be answered. Where is he who was born in April, the boy who will be King of the Jews? We have come to bring gifts and worship him.
The route took the wise magicians over hills less than 5-miles, and finally they topped a hill and there below and before them saw Bethlehem. The date was December 19, 6 BC.
There were no Inns. There were nothing like hotels in those days. (a mis-translation.) The houses that rented spaces for visitors were all filled. There was, so far as the story tells us, just one humble place available. (This clears up questions and corrects my own misunderstandings too.)
Asking around the community, the couple Joseph and Mary, of the monastic community in Nasseria found lodging in a hovel. So many people lived this way.
The dwelling was built over a cave. The cave housed the sheep and goats during the cold winter. Their warmth rose to warm the dwelling ever so slightly. The family in the hovel offered Joseph and Mary a low price for rent to share the cave with the sheep and goats. They were sheltered, relatively warm, hidden and protected. By ancient custom a guest was protected even more than the rest of the family. There Mary brought forth her precious child, God’s only begotten son. There, in a feed trough lined with straw upon a folded woolen blanket, the child took his first breath and cried to The Heavenly King, Father I love you. Never forsake me!
To whom or what can we account as to why the family remained in Bethlehem and did not return to their home community? Only to God! Normally they would have returned earlier. Only God must have advised them to remain hidden. The Holy Bible has no detail about this presumption.
Step today into The Church of The Nativity in Bethlehem in Israel’s “West Bank.” It is built over such a cave, and where such a home likely had been. Indeed it COULD BE where Jesus was born. No one knows for certain but only 160 years after Jesus died this was recognized as His official birth place. Here Jesus received through His parents, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Gold because it was so precious. Everyone needs money and Kings receive Gold as tribute.
Frankincense and Myrrh were worth more than gold and sent all over the ancient world. Even today in big markets/bazaars, these herbs are taken in tea for digestive problems and curing various ailments including those of the reproductive system after birth.
Gold represents kingship, frankincense represents worship, and myrrh represents death and mourning. The beginning and the end of the life of The Sacrificial Lamb of God.
Myrrh is commonly used as an anointing oil, frankincense as a perfume and multi-use medicine, and gold as a valuable item of exchange and a storage of value/wealth.
The incense was considered “what the god’s breathed” and so these Zoroastrian priests brought symbols of kingship, and of this child’s life, medicinal incense ingredients for the new Messiah; the prophetic boy who would be king and the savior of the entirety of confused humanity.
The Magi visited, worshiped, probably prophesied, bowed and shook hands, (a custom of Persians only) and left. We know in a dream they were told never to return to Herod but instead to take another route home. The Bible tells us nothing more. We don’t know if they returned to Persia. We don’t know if they had more gold with them, or how they would have raised the money and man power to cross the desert again. We don’t know where they died, but there are clues and another mystery to search and solve.
These Persian Magicians worked in magic, Astrology, prophecy, and interpreted dreams. That was their career expertise.
Herod at last realizing he would never know the whereabouts of this particular baby ordered the slaughter of all boys age 2 and under in Bethlehem. But who can stop and interview each couple to know the age of their child amidst the flashing of bloody blades? I think it is reasonable to say, all small children that looked to be boys age 3 or younger died that day and the whaling in Bethlehem was loud and continuous for days.
Above all else, Herod wanted to remain on the throne and at the service of Rome. He was willing to slaughter many innocent children and their protecting parents in an effort to be sure the child born to be future King would be eradicated. Such was the personality of the demon possessed King Herod, (whom Joseph, by the way, worked underground to depose and replace with one of his family, one of the Royal bloodline of King David. Is it any wonder he remained in hiding? He suspected he was a hunted man!)
Joseph and Mary, forewarned of Herod’s plan, fled into Egypt. To this day pilgrims stop near Cairo, near a tree which marks the spot where it is said the family stopped to rest. And why there? 30-years before the birth of Jesus, Egypt’s Queen Cleopatra imported the famous Trees of Gilead from Judea and probably gardeners with them to plant and care for these trees. And so there one would find a small Jewish community, because men are always mentioned and counted in Bible stories. Their women and children are seldom mentioned. They likely came with their wives and children. This was a Jewish community among whom Mary and Joseph, with their child Yashuah/Jesus could reside and hide.
Joseph and Mary were both Jewish royalty. They could recount their family lineage and trace their line back to King David. Naturally, a Jewish community would hear this and find a way to keep them safe, in hiding and perhaps keep Joseph working for a living.
Finally about 2-years after they arrived in Egypt, word came that Herod the Horrible was release from his itching and pain. He had died and was swallowed by his sepulchre. Mary, Joseph and Jesus returned home to Judea and Nazeria/Nasseria in the foot hills of Mt. Carmel where they had grown up in a strict law keeping Jewish monastic community – about 3 to 5 days walk from Jerusalem.
There’s a long story about the movement of bones. Were they really the bones of three men? Tradition says one was young, one was middle aged, and one was elderly.
Paintings indicate three men, one without a beard, a bit shorter than the two older men, one with a black beard, and one with a white beard. Three Magi? Perhaps, but is there more evidence to substantiate this claim?
There is a lot of history about their bones. Those bones were bought and held as a treasure. We hear they were held in Constantinople, a seat of the early Catholic Church, and bought again and finally, during the rise of the Holy Roman Empire, the bones ended up in a later built fabulous Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, built exclusively to guard these holy relics. (If you want to see, view the video listed at the end of this article.)
No one has been allowed to touch these bones for centuries, but a photo of the bones indicates where the skull bones join (the sutures) one was young with a lot of space between the sutures, one was middle aged, (the sutures are knitting more tightly together) and one was old, (the sutures are nearly gone. The bones have completely joined through his years.)
The bones can be traced to the 4th century, which was before men were making and selling fake relics. The bones were wrapped in a cloth and some parts of the cloth contain a purple dye that came from Phoenicia – a part of the ancient Persian empire.
The cloth weave also matches the place and time, 4th Century Persia and earlier. It gives strong clues that probably these are the real bones of THREE Magi who traveled to meet Jesus. This is the closest circumstantial evidence we have. (Circumstantial evidence is evidence that relies on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact—such as a fingerprint at the scene of a crime.) These skulls and the attendant skeletons may be, what some consider, the holiest relics in all of Christendom.
There is ONE other gift we have not mentioned. It was not carried by wise men, nor Magi. It was sent by a King, who has proven repeatedly He is real, His words come true, His prophecies are coming true on schedule, and He will soon shake the world with proof of his existence. He gave everything of value, and risked everything He has to rescue You. There is no greater love than that the King of The Universe might cause His only beloved son to be the final sacrifice to satisfy the law, to lay down his life to save the eternal destinies of Billions of others. That was the gift He sent as Yahshua ha Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
If there be any validity to a Christmas celebration it is to remember what God did for you and me. He sent a savior, a rescuer for us so that we might be adopted into The God Family and have in Him, eternal life, raised as his children, maturing to become more and more like Him!
His son, our King will soon return to Earth as a mature king of otherworldly appearance and glory, who will end the many millennia of pain and bring the world love, wisdom, and peace. We expect those who endeavor to keep his commandments now, will enjoy the experience of joining God’s Family in the not so distant future.
Research Sources: (I’m sorry to see some of these references at YouTube have been removed! YouTube was purchased by Google and since then there are legal reasons for some videos being deleted.)
I drew information from many sources:
The video was authored and produced by a professor at Long Island University, C.W. Post College, Peter Spry-Leverton PHD. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-3eu9S3N_k
The other two addresses above are from two short articles about the Astronomical work.
You might also like this: DEFINING “Of” Finding The True Gospel You will find this article and others in the Theology Section HERE
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