This is an attempt to gather together all the traditions of the various churches around the world regarding what really happened at the time of the birth of Jesus.  Matthew gives us a very short explanation of the people called Magi from East coming to visit the new born baby Jesus.  We are not given any details regarding
who are these Magi, and
how many were there,
from how many countries did they come from,
what are their real reasons for the visit and
how did they acurately knew the details of “One born King of the Jews”.  


Traditions has added many details of these events and assures us that they came to a house - not to a manger - and saw only Jesus and his mother Mary.


I come from a country where we have three churches celebrating the three magi who were from India and we were told that returning home they built a temple and worshiped the baby Jesus 30 years before the name “Christians” even came into existence. In fact they built the firs church on this earth which worshipped Jesus as God the Son.  They were followed by Apostle Thomas with the the charge to find these magi and baptize them who were Christians before Christians to make them Christians giving them the Gospel of salvation through Christ.


I have done a series of study on Apostle Thomas for the sake of my people who are called as “St.Thomas Christians”.


This is a follow up on that to give a more fuller study on the various magi traditions around the world as far as I could get.  Internet has been the basic source .  Since I have given only the basic details I have added as much links as I could find.


God so loved the world

That he sent his only begotten son into our world;

This incarnation is the greatest mystery.

Through him we all have redemption through faith.


Normal, IL 2019













Here is the scripture in question where only Matthew alone presents this event and none of the other gospels Mark, Luke and John


Matthew 2:1-12

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5”In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel’.”

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you have found him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9After 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. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.


The Original in Hebrew.



Mat. 2:1-12. The Visit of the Wise Men

1 Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γεννηθέντος ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἐν ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου τοῦ βασιλέως, ἰδοὺ μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα

2 λέγοντες Ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ.

3 ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης ἐταράχθη, καὶ πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ’ αὐτοῦ,

4 καὶ συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ ἐπυνθάνετο παρ’ αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ Χριστὸς γεννᾶται.

5 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· Ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας· οὕτως γὰρ γέγραπται διὰ τοῦ προφήτου·

6 Καὶ σύ, Βηθλέεμ γῆ Ἰούδα, οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα· ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ ἐξελεύσεται ἡγούμενος, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ τὸν λαόν μου τὸν Ἰσραήλ.

7 Τότε Ἡρῴδης λάθρᾳ καλέσας τοὺς μάγους ἠκρίβωσεν παρ’ αὐτῶν τὸν χρόνον τοῦ φαινομένου ἀστέρος,

8 καὶ πέμψας αὐτοὺς εἰς Βηθλέεμ εἶπεν· Πορευθέντες ἐξετάσατε ἀκριβῶς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου· ἐπὰν δὲ εὕρητε, ἀπαγγείλατέ μοι, ὅπως κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν προσκυνήσω αὐτῷ.

9 οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες τοῦ βασιλέως ἐπορεύθησαν· καὶ ἰδοὺ ὁ ἀστὴρ, ὃν εἶδον ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ, προῆγεν αὐτούς ἕως ἐλθὼν ἐστάθη ἐπάνω οὗ ἦν τὸ παιδίον.

10 ἰδόντες δὲ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα.

11 καὶ ἐλθόντες εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν εἶδον τὸ παιδίον μετὰ Μαρίας τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, καὶ πεσόντες προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ, καὶ ἀνοίξαντες τοὺς θησαυροὺς αὐτῶν προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δῶρα, χρυσὸν καὶ λίβανον καὶ σμύρναν.

12 καὶ χρηματισθέντες κατ’ ὄναρ μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην, δι’ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν.

1. Tou de Ihsou gennhqentoV en Bhqleem thV IoudaiaV en hmeraiV Hrwdou tou basilewV, idou magoi apo anatolwn paregenonto eiV Ierosoluma

 2 legonteV, pou estin o tecqeiV basileuV twn Ioudaiwn; eidomen gar autou ton astera en th anatolh kai hlqomen proskunhsai autw.

3 akousaV de o basileuV HrwdhV etaracqh kai pasa Ierosoluma met autou,

4 kai sunagagwn pantaV touV arciereiV kai grammateiV tou laou epunqaneto par autwn pou o cristoV gennatai.

5 oi de eipan autw, en Bhqleem thV IoudaiaV: outwV gar gegraptai dia tou profhtou:

6 kai su, Bhqleem gh Iouda, oudamwV elacisth ei en toiV hgemosin Iouda: ek sou gar exeleusetai hgoumenoV, ostiV poimanei ton laon mou ton Israhl.

7 tote hrwdhV laqra kalesaV touV magouV hkribwsen par autwn ton cronon tou fainomenou asteroV,

8 kai pemyaV autouV eiV Bhqleem eipen, poreuqenteV exetasate akribwV peri tou paidiou: epan de eurhte apaggeilate moi, opwV kagw elqwn proskunhsw autw.

9 oi de akousanteV tou basilewV eporeuqhsan, kai idou o asthr on eidon en th anatolh prohgen autouV ewV elqwn estaqh epanw ou hn to paidion.

10 idonteV de ton astera ecarhsan caran megalhn sfodra.

11 kai elqonteV eiV thn oikian eidon to paidion meta MariaV thV mhtroV autou, kai pesonteV prosekunhsan autw, kai anoixanteV touV qhsaurouV autwn proshnegkan autw dwra, cruson kai libanon kai smurnan.

12 kai crhmatisqenteV kat onar mh anakamyai proV hrwdhn, di allhV odou anecwrhsan eiV thn cwran autwn.


1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Wise-men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying,

2 Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

3 And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written through the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, land of Judah, Art in no wise least among the princes of Judah: For out of thee shall come forth a governor, Who shall be shepherd of my people Israel.

7 Then Herod privily called the Wise-men, and learned of them exactly what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search out exactly concerning the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word, that I also may come and worship him.

9 And they, having heard the king, went their way; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him; and opening their treasures they offered unto him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.



Notice that this account presents

l an event at an unspecified point after Christ's birth

l in which an unnumbered party of

l unnamed people termed generally as mágoi ("wise men" μάγοι) visits him in a house (οἰκίαν, oikian), not a stable,

l with only the baby with "his mother" mentioned as present.

Greek Connection:


The New Testament was written originally in Greek.  Hence the Magi comes from the Greek word magoi μάγοι. The word Magi is therefore a Latinization of the plural of the Greek word magos (μαγος pl. μαγοι).  

Persian Connection:
The word probably comes from an Old Persian word “maguŝ from the Avestan magâunô, which is the religious caste into which Zoroaster was born, (see Yasna 33.7:' ýâ sruyê parê magâunô ' = ' so I can be heard beyond Magi ').

The Old Persian magu- is derived from the Proto-Indo-European magh ("be able"), which was absorbed into the Iranian language; Iranians thereafter began using the word maguš ("magician"; i.e., an "able [specialist in ritual]") or maghu, which may have led to the Old Sinitic *Mᵞag ("mage" or "shaman").The Old Persian form seems to have permeated Ancient Semitic languages as the Talmudic Hebrew magosh, the Aramaic amgusha ("magician"), and the Chaldean maghdim ("wisdom and philosophy"); from the first century BCE onwards, Syrian magusai gained notoriety as magicians and soothsayers. 

Thus the most direct and primary meaning of the word Magi leads us to the Persians.  Even there we have several choice meanings.
The term refers to the priestly caste of Zoroastrianism. As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars, and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was at that time highly regarded as a science. Their religious practices and use of astrology caused derivatives of the term Magi to be applied to the occult in general and led to the English term magic. Translated in the King James Version as wise men, the same translation is applied to the wise men led by Daniel of earlier Hebrew Scriptures (Daniel 2:48). The same word is given as sorcerer and sorcery when describing "Elymas the sorcerer" in Acts 13:6-11, and Simon Magus, considered a heretic by the early Church, in Acts 8:9-13.

Magi was one of the six Median tribes who served as priests to Median religion of the time


Magi were the sacred caste of the Medes. They provided priests for Persia, and, regardless of dynastic vicissitudes, ever kept up their dominating religious influence. To the head of this caste, Nergal Sharezar, Jeremias gives the title Rab-Mag , "Chief Magus" ( Jeremiah 39:3 , 39:13 , in Hebrew original — Septuagint and Vulgate translations are erroneous here). After the downfall of Assyrian and Babylonian power, the religion of the Magi held sway in Persia. Cyrus completely conquered the sacred caste; his son Cambyses severely repressed it. The Magians revolted and set up Gaumata, their chief, as King of Persia under the name of Smerdis. He was, however, murdered (521 B.C.), and Darius became king. This downfall of the Magi was celebrated by a national Persian holiday called magophonia (Her., III, lxiii, lxxiii, lxxix). Still the religious influence of this priestly caste continued throughout the rule of the Achaemenian dynasty in Persia (Ctesias, "Persica", X-XV); and is not unlikely that at the time of the birth of Christ it was still flourishing under the Parthian dominion. Strabo (XI, ix, 3) says that the Magian priests formed one of the two councils of the Parthian Empire.


The English words magic, mage and magician come from the Latin magus, through the Greek μάγος, which is from the Old Persian maguš ("magician").

Thayer’s Greek Dictionary defines a magus as “the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldaeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augurs, soothsayers, sorcerers etc.”

The Magi are mentioned in both the Book of Jeremiah and the Behistun Inscription of Darius I, indicating that they had gained considerable power and influence by the middle of the first millennium BCE. A number of ancient Greek authors discuss these Persian mágoi in their works. Among the first to do so was the historian Herodotus, who states that the mágoi were one of seven Median tribes and that they served as functionaries at the court of the Achaemenid Empire, where they acted as advisers to the king.  According to Herodotus, these Persian mágoi were also in charge of various religious rites, namely sacrifices and the interpretation of dreams.

It is disputed whether the magi were from the beginning followers of Zoroaster and his first propagandists. They do not appear as such in the trilingual inscription of Bīsitūn, in which Darius the Great describes his speedy and final triumph over the magi who had revolted against his rule (522 bc). Rather it appears that they constituted a priesthood serving several religions. They were then simply priests to whatever religion they are serving. The magi were a priestly caste during the Seleucid, Parthian, and Sāsānian periods; later parts of the Avesta, such as the ritualistic sections of the Vidēvdāt (Vendidad), probably derive from them.

Philo of Alexandria (20 BC–50 AD), a Jewish philosopher living around the time of Jesus, wrote favorably about an eastern school of magi. In Every Good Man is Free (11 §72) he wrote, “Among the Persians there exists a group, the magi, who investigating the works of nature for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the truth, initiate others in the divine virtues by very clear explanations.”[

Xenophon (c.430-c.355), who visited the Achaemenid Empire in 401, calls the Magians experts "in everything religious". He also knows that the Magians sing hymns to the rising sun and all known gods.

Herodotus ( c. 484 – c. 425 BC) mentions the Magians as sacrificers are libations at Troy, a sacrifice of white horses, and offerings to sea gods. As we will see below, the sacrificial practice is also attested in Persian sources. Herodotus also mentions the Magians as interpreters of omens and dreams.

"Magic was not distinct from religion but rather an expression of it "  something the particular religious group do not accept.  In fact I have not seen any greater magician other than the Christian believers. We still hold that Mark 16:17-1817 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” We still drive out demons by the power of the spoken word in the name.  In fact the word of the believer is considered confirmed by signs and wonders following. Further we still consider Prophecy as binding as far as its purposes and fulfillment towards the plan within the father’s love.

Hungarians claim descend from a people called Magyars whom they claim were the original magi.  Every bible student knows about Nimrod, king in the land of Shinar (Mesopotamia), who was, according to the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles, the son of Cush, the son of Ham, son of Noah. The Bible states that he was "a mighty hunter before the Lord [and] .... began to be mighty in the earth". Nimród, Hunor and Magor were the early rulers of the tribe of Magyar, in the Age right after the Flood.  "The magic arts originate from Nimrod" - wrote Clement of Alexandria in the fourth volume of his "Stromata or different things", in Volume IV, Chapters. 27-29.

The ancient meaning of the Hungarian word "Magus" was: astronomer, mathematician, scholar of natural sciences, philosopher, wise-man, priest, physician, judge, creator of sciences, discoverer of agriculture, industry, transportation, discoverer of trade in general and creator of state institutions - all these in one person! They were the "culture-heroes": "The culture-hero has a major role in myths, is the first to acquire or create different cultural benefits for the people (fire, culture-plants, trade, tools), to introduce a given social order, regulations for marriage, magical formulae, rites and holidays". (Meletyinszkij, 1988,1: 159).

These magi thus did not belong to one particular tribe or nation or religion.  They lived all over the world in all cultures, religions and nations and they provided necessary wisdom for the functioning of the society wherein they were part.

Clearly Magians were essentially the scientists of the period when and where they lived and independent of their basic religious affiliation did experiment with nature, life and society to determine their laws.

One of the essential problem with the scientists everywhere was they believed that the laws of Physics, Mathematics, Biology and Psychology are all part of the properties of the universe that there is no need of a God.   “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” Stephen  Hawking writes in “The Grand Design,”“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” It has been an ongoing process in the history of science. Every period there were also scientists who asserted that these laws were designed and fine tuned with possibilities by an intelligent designer which makes the system work which included laws and uncertainties built in which are still unknown allowing for growth and discovery. It was these magi who were searching for God beyond the known dimensions and became mystics.  

Daniel was the Chief of the magicians Rab-mag and his speciality was interpreting dreams. He became the principal administrator in two world empires--the Babylonian and the subsequent Persian Empire. It is often assumed that it was Daniel the Magi who transmitted the prophecy of the coming of the savior to the Magi of Persia and Babylon. He was the prophet who predicted the coming of the savior and to give an accurate date of his arrival.

“And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them [Daniel and his friends] ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.” — Daniel 1:20

Simon Magus (Σίμων ὁ μάγος) who tried to buy the magic of Peter was cursed. According to Acts, Simon was a Samaritan magus or religious figure of the 1st century AD and a convert to Christianity, baptized by Philip the Evangelist.. It was the secret of the great power of the magic that Peter possessed that Simon wanted.  He was ready to pay for his tution.

From the 1st century AD onward the word in its Syriac form (magusai) was applied to magicians and soothsayers, chiefly from Babylonia, with a reputation for the most varied forms of wisdom. It thus came to mean that magi are wise men in almost every field of knowledge particularly in the spiritual realm.

Some people are simply afraid of the word magician and are horror struck to hear magi equated with magicians. In fact most of the modern sciences Physics and Chemistry and Medicine came out of the ancient practice of magic where the end effect confirmed the procedures of the magic. Of course imposters took advantage of these realities. That made the difference between true science and magic.

Since the days of Daniel, the fortunes of both the Persian and the Jewish nation had been closely intertwined. Both nations had, in their turn, fallen under Seleucid domination in the wake of Alexander's conquests. Subsequently, both had regained their independence: the Jews under Maccabean leadership, and the Persians as the dominating ruling group within the Parthian Empire.

It was at this time that the Magi, in their dual priestly and governmental office, composed the upper house of the Council of the Megistanes (from which we get the term "magistrates"), whose duties included the absolute choice and election of the king of the realm.” (Chuck Missler:

In a wider sense it was defined by Maimonides as one who by studying the world had came to understand that there is a creator who is above all.



Dr. Ali Jafarey presents it thus:
The word "magic" and other cognates, derived from Magu, show how highly learned and advanced were the Magi in their knowledge and crafts. They made non-Iranians wonder and imagine that they were watching "sorcerers" at work. This could happen to any backward people if they see modern scientific implements used by the advanced. We have many stories how people looked first at wireless, telephone, locomotive engine, train, and other inventions and imagined them to be magic and "products of the Devil." Some still do!”

Thus the concept of magi was not always limited to a few nations.  They were the magicians who manipulated the simple everyday objects magically by manipulation.  

Alchemy was an ancient branch of natural philosophy, a philosophical and protoscientific tradition  practised throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, originating in Greco-Roman Egypt in the first few centuries .  These were invariably called Magi or Magicians 

These magician Alchemists attempted to purify, mature, and perfect certain materials. Common aims were chrysopoeia, the transmutation of "base metals" (e.g., lead) into "noble metals" (particularly gold); the creation of an elixir of immortality;  the creation of panaceas able to cure any disease; and the development of an alkahest, a universal solvent.  The perfection of the human body and soul was thought to permit or result from the alchemical magnum opus  and, in the Hellenistic and Western mystery tradition, the achievement of gnosis.  In Europe, the creation of a philosopher's stone was variously connected with all of these projects.

In English, the term is often limited to descriptions of European alchemy, but similar practices existed in the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, and the Muslim world.  In Europe, following the 12th-century Renaissance  produced by the translation of Medieval Islamic works on science and the rediscovery of Aristotelian philosophy, alchemists played a significant role in early modern science  (particularly chemistry and medicine). Islamic and European alchemists developed a structure of basic laboratory techniques, theory, terminology, and experimental method, some of which are still in use today. However, they continued antiquity's belief in four elements and guarded their work in secrecy including cyphers and cryptic symbolism. Their work was guided by Hermetic principles related to magic, mythology, and religion. 

Thus the magi were the scientists of the period and we owe everything to their methods even though some ot them may look out of the world and non-realistic and are atheists..

Most religions still carry these basic procedures of chanting, the power of the spoken word ,laying on hands and the power of ritual movements, puncturing, cutting to release blood etc 





A Magian (Oxus Treasure) ca. 559 BCE–ca. 330 BCE, British Museum, London

Persia's great magian (522 BC–486 BC)on a relief from Persepolis, Tehran, National Museum







The conquests of Alexander extended from Greece to the Central India and the role of the magians got integrated to the whole of the Eastern religions.   Therefore, the "wise men" mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew are called Magians, although the correct term for people observing celestial omens would have been Chaldaeans, mathematicians, or astrologers (Chaldaioi, mathematikoi or astrologoi).
The Astronomer comes from the root “M-G” meaning “star”.

Thus magi were also referred to as ‘the Wise Men,Kings, or Kings from the East.’

Wisdom and power can be used either for good or for evil.  Hence magi being wise with knowledge in science and the use of science in creation and being people with power and authority can also use it for good or evil.


Hence the Bible mentions invariably both types of these magi  
Bible verses about Magi,  
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Jeremiah 39:3, 13 is the earliest of ancient records mentioning magi:

Then all the princes of the king of Babylon came in and sat in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, Rab-saris, Nergal-Sarezer, Rabmag, with the rest of the princes of the king of Babylon. . . . So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon's chief officers.


The word "Rabmag" is merely transliterated because the original translators did not understand its meaning, and even subsequent translations have left it untranslated. However, it has since been correctly deciphered as "chief magus."


The best translation authorities say that "magus" (a singular form of "magi") comes from an old Pahlavi Persian word mag or mog, meaning "priest" or "great one." Thus, a man by the name of Nergal-Sharezer was the "rabmag" or "chief magus" of the Babylonians at this time (about 586 BC) when they were conquering Jerusalem.


The magi of Babylon were heathen physicians, priests, and learned men, and it is said that from them descended a line of evil, perverted priests and sorcerers (said to include Haman of the book of Esther and Barjesus or Elymas of Acts 13). It is not at all likely therefore, that the magi of Matthew 2, seeking to worship the newborn King of the Jews, could be included with the likes of these men!

The same word Magi is given as sorcerer and sorcery when describing "Elymas the sorcerer" in Acts 13:6–11  
Several translations refer to the magi outright as astrologers at Matthew Chapter 2, including New English Bible (1961); Phillips New Testament in Modern English (J.B.Phillips, 1972); Twentieth Century New Testament (1904 revised edition); Amplified Bible (1958-New Testament); An American Translation (1935, Goodspeed); and The Living Bible (K. Taylor, 1962-New Testament).

Daniel 2:48 gives us a quick glimpse of another kind of magi:

Then the king promoted [rebah] Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler [shelet] over the whole province of Babylon, and chief [rab] administrator [cagan] over all the wise men [chakkiym] of Babylon.


Using the Brown, Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, we can define some of the key terms:

» "promoted" (rebah)—to grow long, tall, or great; to increase; to make great.

» "ruler" (shelet)—to have power, to rule (over), to make ruler.

» "chief" (rab)—(adj.) great; (n.) a captain, a chief.

» "administrator" (cegan)—a prefect, a governor.

» "wise men" (chakkiym)—(adj.) wise; (n.) a wise man


The verse tells us the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar elevated God's servant Daniel to the ranks of the great in Babylon. He made Daniel a ruler, an official of great power over his kingdom. This promotion made Daniel the chief or lord over all the other wise men (magi) of Babylon.


This act of Nebuchadnezzar gave Daniel the power and the opportunity to make significant changes in the way the magi operated in Babylon. He may have held this post for the rest of his long life, and such a long tenure would ensure that many of his changes would endure. We could also speculate that, understanding the Seventy Weeks Prophecy (Daniel 9:20-27), he could have passed along to the magi the need to watch for strange tidings in Judea around this time.


We should also remember that a large number of Jews, Levites, and Benjamites still lived in Babylon and the surrounding areas, for only a small percentage of Judeans returned from exile to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:64-67). Some of them, following the example of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, may have been magi or governors. It is most probable, then, that the magi who visited the young Jesus would come under this second category of God-fearing, high-ranking.



The Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria states in the 2nd century BC:
"Thus philosophy, a thing of the highest utility, flourished in antiquity among the barbarians, shedding its light over the nations.
And afterwards it came to Greece.
First in its ranks were the prophets of the Egyptians;
and the Chaldeans among the Assyrians;
and the Druids among the Gauls;
and the Sarmanas among the Bactrians ("Σαρμαναίοι Βάκτρων");
and the philosophers of the Celts;
and the Magi of the Persians, who foretold the Saviour's birth, and came into the land of Judaea guided by a star.
The Indian gymnosophists are also in the number,and the other barbarian philosophers.

And of these there are two classes,
some of them called Sramanas ("Σαρμάναι"),
and others Brahmins (Βραφμαναι)."
—Clement of Alexandria "The Stromata or Miscellanies" Book I, Chapter XV
These then form the wisemen.



The Wise Men: Magi Kings of the East

They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity and in celebrations of Christmas. Magi is a term derived from Greek (meaning a priest of Zoroaster).

In the third century, Tertullian referred to the wise men as the Kings of the Magi, perhaps seeing a connection between them and the words of Psalm 72:8-11: May he also rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust. Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. And let all kings bow down before him, all nations serve him.


The Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Targum of Jonathan render Tarshish as Carthage, but other biblical commentators as early as 1646 (Samuel Bochart) read it as Tartessos in ancient Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula), near Huelva and Sevilla today The Jewish-Portuguese scholar, politician, statesman and financier Isaac Abarbanel (1437–1508 A.D.) described Tarshish as “the city known in earlier times as Carthage and today called Tunis."  One possible identification for many centuries preceding the French scholar Bochart (d. 1667), and following the Roman historian Flavius Josephus (d. 100 A.D.), had been with inland town of Tarsus in Cilicia (south-central Turkey). None of these however are associated with the magi who came to visit baby Jesus and they all are in the west.



Tarshish came to be famous due to the merchant ships of large size built there fore long journeys (1 Kgs 10:22; Ps 48:7; Isa2:16; 23:1’ 60:9; Ezekiel 27:25).

However this Tarshish is in the West of Jerusalem.  

There is an interesting apocryphal connection of magi with this western Tarshish.  It is said that the magi warned by vision to take devious route to return to their home avoiding Herod went to Joppe. Where they entered into a ship.  But they found that the ship was not equipped for long journey got down in Tarshish.and then went to their home in merchant ships to the east.  Herod was told that they took ship to Tarshish followed them and not finding them anywhere put all the ships in that port to flame.

Some believe this was prophesied by David in Psalms 48: 5-7:
5They saw and were astounded; they fled in terror. 6Trembling seized them there, anguish like a woman in labor. 7With a wind from the east You wrecked the ships of Tarshish.…


Apparently there is another Tarshish indicated in the east of Jerusalem in the Indian Ocean  (1 Kgs 22:48; 2 Chr.9:21; 20:36) connected with the ports of Ophir during King Solomon's reign.If we apply this verse in Psalms 12 to the coming of the magi to adore baby Jesus, there must a Tarshis in the East.  

Since Yemen is part of the Queendom of Sheba and Seba, it is associated with the magi visit.

The 4th century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, who had served in the army in Persia, wrote that the Persian magi based their wisdom on the Brahmins, an Indian priestly order who were the educated class. Also, the 17th century Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes identified the magi as Indian Brahmins.

The Gospel of Matthew, the only one of the four Gospels to mention the Magi, states that they came "from the east" to worship the Christ, "born King of the Jews". Although the account does not tell how many they were, the three gifts led to a widespread assumption that they were three as well. This has no scriptural validity but only an assumption.  There might have been any number of magi. We will see that we have traditions in several countries which will probably add upto over a dozen. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is linked to Old Testament prophesies such as that in Isaiah 60:3, which describe the Messiah being worshiped by kings.  

In the Eastern Church there are traditionally 12 wise men. The western tradition is that there were three, because of the three gifts they presented to Christ of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Early Christian art is also not consistent witness:

Painting in the cemetery of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus

* a painting in the cemetery of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus shows two;

* one in the Lateran Museum, three;

* one in the cemetery of Domitilla, four;

* a vase in the Kircher Museum, eight (Marucchi, "Eléments d'archéologie chrétienne ", Paris, 1899, I 197)

We still sing of the “We three kings of the Orient”
Traditions identify a variety of different names for the Magi. In the Western Christian church they have been commonly known as:

1. Melchior (Melichior, Melchyor)of Persia

2. Caspar or Gaspar (Gathaspa, Jaspar, Jaspas, etc.) of India

3. Balthasar (Bithisarea, Balthassar) of Arabia   

Some Names Given To The Magi





























Alternate Hebrew Names: Galgalath, Malgalath, and Sarrachim.

In Western Armenian, the names are pronounced Kaspar, Melkon, and Baghdasar.
Many Syrian Christians name the Magi: Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas.
In the Eastern churches, Ethiopian Christianity, has the names: Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater.   Armenian Catholics have Kagpha, Badadakharida and Badadilma.

The Western tradition of the names of the Magi derive from an early 6th Century Greek manuscript, translated into the Latin Excerpta Latina Barbari  The description seems to be of a mosaic of the magi, possibly those at Ravenna. A pseudo-Bedan text, Collectanea or Excerpta et Collectanea apparently continues the tradition of three kings. The text is said to be from the 8th or 9th century, of Irish origin, and first found in a printed edition of works ascribed to St. Bede the Venerable at Basel in 1563.

One source states that the pseudo-Bedan text gives us the following clues about these men.

· The oldest of the Magi was Melchoir, King of Arabia. He had a long gray beard and gave gold as a gift, symbolizing the acceptance of Christ as King.

· Balthazar, King of Ethiopia, was middle-aged, swarthy, bearded, and bore the gift of frankincense, symbolizing Christ as High Priest.

· Finally, Caspar was King of Tarsus, in his twenties. His gift was myrrh, which was used in making medicines. This symbolized Christ as the healer and great physician.



The Adoration of the Magi, 1894 tapestry by the British artist Edward Burne-Jones.

Hugo Kehrer (1908), Die Heiligen Drei Könige in Literatur und Kunst (reprinted in 1976). Vol. I, p. 66. Online version. Gives the following description,
Quote from the Latin chronicle:


l primus fuisse dicitur Melchior, senex et canus, barba prolixa et capillis, tunica hyacinthina, sagoque mileno, et calceamentis hyacinthino et albo mixto opere, pro mitrario variae compositionis indutus: aurum obtulit regi Domino.

("the first [magus], named Melchior, was an old white-haired man, with a full beard and hair, [...]: the king gave gold to our Lord.")


l Secundum, nomine Caspar, juvenis imberbis, rubicundus, mylenica tunica, sago rubeo, calceamentis hyacinthinis vestitus: thure quasi Deo oblatione digna, Deum honorabat. 

("The second, with name Caspar, a beardless boy, [... gave incense].")


l Tertius, fuscus, integre barbatus, Balthasar nomine, habens tunicam rubeam, albo vario, calceamentis inimicis amicus: per myrrham filium hominis moriturum professus est. 

("The third one, dark-haired, with a full beard, named Balthasar, [... gave myrhh].") Omnia autem vestimenta eorum Syriaca sunt. ("The clothes of all [three] were Syrian-style.")


2004 Archaeological Institute of America


Magi in Marcus and Marcellinus Catacomb in 3rd century AD


It is said that after discovering and honoring the Savior, the Magi returned home and surrendered their high positions, gave their property to the poor, and went to spread the Gospel.

This is the earliest known depiction of the three wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus, from the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome, in the 2nd century AD..

There seems to be a large number of such traditions varying in the age, country and the gift.

These names apparently derive from a Greek manuscript probably composed in Alexandria around 500 A.D., and which has been translated into Latin with the title Excerpta Latina Barbari. Another Greek document from the 8th century, of presumed Irish origin and translated into Latin with the title Collectanea et Flores, continues the tradition of three kings and their names and gives additional details.  

In India we believe in three kings who came from India alone.  Many Chinese Christians believe that one group of magi came from China.Bible historian Chuck Missler mentions an
Armenian tradition identifying the Magi as:
Balthasar of Arabia,
Melchior of Persia and
Gasper of India.



In one tradition, reflected in art by the 14th century (for example in the Arena Chapel by Giotto in 1305)
Caspar is old, normally with a white beard, and gives the gold; he is “King of Tarsus, land of merchants” on the Mediterranean coast of modern Turkey, and is first in line to kneel to Christ. Melchior is middle-aged, giving frankincense from his native Arabia, and
Balthazar is a young man, very often and increasingly black-skinned, with myrrh from Saba (modern south Yemen).
All these varies from place to place and country to country.  Below is the black Casper who is the youngest.


Three Magi, Three Kings, Three Wise Men

Venerated in

Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
Lutheran Church

Major shrine

Shrine of the Three Kings, Cologne Cathedral


6 January (Epiphany)
11 January (death)
23 July (translation of relics)
24 July (Cologne, Germany)


King bearing gifts, king on a camel, three crowns


The three Magi developed distinct characteristics in Christian tradition, so that between them they represented

l the three ages of (adult) man,

l three geographical and cultural areas.

Magi - representing
the three ages, three colors, three continents



Syrian tradition alone seems to give the number of magi as twelve. One of the Syrian tradition  found in a recently discovered book 'Revelation of the Magi'  written in Syriac (Middle Aramaic), speaks of ”An account of the relevations and the visions which the kings, [sons of kings], of the great East spoke, who were called Magi in the language of that land.... ”

· St Jacob refers to 12 kings

· Michael the Syrian (St Michael the Great) names 11 kings: Dahdandur, son of Artaban; Shuf, son of Gudfar; Arshak, son of Mahduq; Zarwand, son of Warwadud; Aryo, son of Kasro; Artahshasht, son of Hamit; Ashtanbuzan, son of Shishron; Mahduq, son of Hoham; Ahshiresh, son of Sahban; Sardanh, son of Baldan; Marduk, son of Bel

· And the names of the 12 kings in Syrian traditions are: Zaharwanda, Hōrmizd, Auštazp, Aršak, Zarwand, Arīhō, Artahšišat, Aštanbōzan, Mihruq, Ahširaš, Nasardīh, Merōdak

· Abd-I-Hasan bar Bahlfil, of the tenth century,provides the following list: Ahduiyéld; Hadundad, son of Artaban; Shethaph, son of Gudphor; Arshik, son of Mahdus; Zerwand, son of Warwarand; Arihu, son of Kosraw; Artahshasht, son of Holith; Eshtan-buzon, son of Shishron; Mahdum, son of Huhom; Ahshiresh, son of Sahbon; Sordolah, son of °Beldon; Marduk, son of Bil.

· A different list of twelve magi (and seven names of the shepherds) is found in the tenth century Syriac compendium According to the Book of the Bee (chapter xxxix), the Magi were twelve in number, and their names were:--

      Zarwândâd, the son of Artabân.

      Hôrmîzdâd, the son of Sîtârûk (Santarôk).

      Gûshnâsâph (Gushnasp), the son of Gûndaphar.

      Arshakh, the son of Mîhârôk.

 These four brought gold.


 Zarwândâd, the son of Wârzwâd.

      Îryâhô, the son of Kesro (Khusrau).

      Artahshesht, the son of Holîtî.

      Ashtôn`âbôdân, the son of Shîshrôn.

 These four brought myrrh.


      Mehârôk, the son of Hûhâm.

      Ahshiresh, the son of Hasbân.

      Sardâlâh, the son of Baladân.

      Merôdâch, the son of Beldarân.

 These four brought frankincense.


Evidently, this Syriac tradition of twelve magi influenced part of the Armenian Church

for an Armenian codex copied 1749 CE has a list of twelve magi?“

Calvin in his book “The Syriac History of the Blessed Virgin Mary combines both the western and syrian versions by presenting three Kings with nine retinues.







Margaret Barker explores the legends and traditions of the Magi




Legends of the Magi: Twelve “Masters” under the planets,
in a Middle High German Losbuch, Middle Rhine/Hessen c.1340
Austrian National Library


THERE is another story about the Magi: they were a group of 12 wise men, descendants of kings, who lived at the foot of a holy mountain in the east, “the Mountain of Victory”. They were the hereditary guardians of ancient writings handed down from Adam.

Their books told them that a star would appear in a beam of light from the glory of God. Adam had seen this star over the Tree of Life, but lost sight of it when he left Eden. After the harvest each year, the Magi washed in their “Spring of Purification”, and then went up the mountain to their sacred cave to see if the “star of blessing” had appeared. When they saw the star, it enclosed a vision of a young boy, and so they set out to Judaea. One version of the story says that they saw the Child and his Mother in the star.

This story is known from a Syriac text of about 200 CE, and a shorter version appears in an incomplete fifth-century Latin commentary on Matthew. The story was widely known in medieval Europe, and there are paintings of the Magi bathing in their sacred spring, seeing the Child in the star, and then travelling in a great procession to Jerusalem.

These other stories preserve clues about the Magi who came to find Jesus. The Hebrew Christians of Matthew’s community told their stories in Hebrew, and Matthew wrote a gospel in Hebrew (although that is now lost). The words “from the east” would also have meant “from ancient times”, because the Hebrew can mean both.






Going into the house they 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).



The three gifts of the magi,  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.



Three gifts are explicitly identified in Matthew: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, in Koine Greek: chrysós (χρυσός), líbanos (λίβανος) and smýrna (σμύρνα). Many different theories of the meaning and symbolism of the gifts have been brought forward.  

1. All three gifts are ordinary offerings and gifts given to a king.
Myrrh being commonly used as an anointing oil,
frankincense as a perfume, and
gold as a valuable.

2. The three gifts had a spiritual meaning:
gold as a symbol of kingship on earth,
frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and
myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.

3. This dates back to Origen in Contra Celsum:
"gold, as to a king;
myrrh, as to one who was mortal; and
Incense, as to a God."

4. Sometimes this is described more generally as
gold symbolizing virtue,
frankincense symbolizing prayer, and
myrrh symbolizing suffering.

In fact, these same three gift items formed the gifts,that King Seleucus II Callinicus offered to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus in 243 B.C.E. These then form the standard presents for a god.




 Christians, though, interpret the three kings as Trinitarian, one to adore each Person of the Trinity.



Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

According to the Biblical Archaeology Society Staff, the most common rationale for these specific items are the spiritual attributes of Jesus that they represent: “gold representing his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming.”

Gold is a symbol of divinity and is mentioned throughout the Bible. Pagan idols were often made from gold and the Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold (Exodus 25:10-17). The gift of gold to the Christ child was symbolic of His divinity—God in flesh.

The gift of gold was considered worthy of a king. The buildings and treasures of kings and pharaohs from the ancient past have left reminders that gold was the prize of rulers and kings. Both secular and biblical kings greatly valued gold. The following two passages reveal that King Solomon acquired valued gold and King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold idol or image of himself.

All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; silver was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. 2 Chronicles 9:20 (NASB)

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:1 (NASB)

While gold can be a gift for anyone, gold was a gift especially worthy for kings.

Matthew 27:11  Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” So Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.”


Jesus was indeed King of the Jews
legally through Solomonic Royal line
genetically through Nathan through Mary who gave flesh to the Son of God in incarnation.



John 19:19  And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Ophir (אוֹפִיר) is a port or region mentioned in the Bible, famous for its wealth. King Solomon received a cargo from Ophir every three years,{1 Kings 10:22} which consisted of gold, silver, sandalwood, pearls, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

A Dictionary of the Bible by Sir William Smith, published in 1863, notes the Hebrew word for parrot Thukki, derived from the Classical Tamil for peacock Thogkai and Cingalese "tokei", joins other Classical Tamil words for ivory, cotton-cloth and apes preserved in the Hebrew Bible. This theory of Ophir's location in Tamilakkam is further supported by other historians. The most likely location on the coast of Kerala conjectured to be Ophir is Poovar in Thiruvananthapuram District (though some Indian scholars also suggest Beypore as possible location) in Kerala, South India.

Earlier in the 19th century Max Müller and other scholars identified Ophir with Abhira, near the Indus River in modern-day state of Gujarat, India where the Indus Valley Civilization was of the Dravidians from where Abraham moved to Chaldean village which he called Ur which in Tamil simply means Village. His second wife Keturah who was a distant relation cousin came from there and according to tradition, the seven children of Abraham through Keturaah were given presents and sent to the East into the Indus Valley to Keturah’s parents.  This tradition is still followed in marriage and property among the Dravids of South India. It was these Dravids who were pushed down to the south under the occupation of Aryans.  According to Benjamin Walker Ophir is said to have been a town of the Abhira tribe.

In Jewish tradition, Ophir is often associated with a place in India, named for one of the sons of Joktan. Joktan was the second of the two sons of Eber (Gen. 10:25; 1 Chr. 1:19) and also one of the sons of Abraham and Keturah (1 Chronicles 1:32) mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.. The 10th-century lexicographer, David ben Abraham al-Fasi, identified Ophir with Serendip, the old Persian name for Sri Lanka (Taprobane, Ceylon). The presence of sandalwood, pearls, ivory, apes, and peacocks  along side of gold makes South India as the only solution for Ophir. The blue peacock lives only in India and Sri Lanka, while the green peacock is found in Java and Myanmar (Burma).

Before the creation of cultured pearls in the early 1900s, natural pearls were so rare and expensive that they were reserved almost exclusively for the noble and very rich. A jewelry item that today's working women might take for granted, a 16-inch strand of perhaps 50 pearls, often costs between $500 and $5,000. At the height of the Roman Empire, when pearl fever reached its peak, the historian Suetonius wrote that the Roman general Vitellius financed an entire military campaign by selling just one of his mother's pearl earrings.During the long history of pearls, the principal oyster beds lay in the Persian Gulf, along the coasts of India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and in the Red Sea. Chinese pearls came mainly from freshwater rivers and ponds, whereas Japanese pearls were found near the coast in salt water. (

The Dravidians were very well-known for their gold, ivory, and precious gemstones. In ancient times, sandalwood was exclusive to South India, where the Dravidians were said to have originated. Historians support this conclusion by the belief that certain words in certain areas have a common root origin in the Hebrew Bible. There was another claim in 1897 that links the Coptic name for India, Sophir, to the Indian river Cophen. This is also often associated with parts of Afghanistan.

Studies of the Hebrew Bible reveal an interesting fact. Apparently, round trips to Ophir took three years. Wherever it is, it may not have been close to Ezion Gerber. Ships that left port would need to pass the Arabian Sea and into the Indian Ocean. Ophir should really exist somewhere within this body of water.

The original Hebrew text of the Bible borrowed heavily from Tamil wording. The Tamil language has one word, Ovar, that has multiple meanings. Thus, Ovar can refer to artists and skilled craftsmen and artisans among others. Some say these people came from a place the ancients knew as Oviyar Nadu. The name shortened to Oviyar. Sailors foreign to the land might have suffered problems with that pronunciation and simply used Ovar instead. Ovar was a name adopted by the seaport in the northwestern coast of Lanka.


Sri Lanka has had many names down the centuries. Perhaps the best known of these is Ceylon. After gaining independence from Britain, Ceylon became known as Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is an island found in the Indian Ocean with heavy Tamil influence and known for its peacocks. Tamil is one of the oldest languages of the world.

There are those that believe the true location of the Ophir mine may still exist in ancient texts. Somehow along the way, the original name evolved with mistranslations. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and was translated into Greek. It was further translated into Latin and eventually into English. In Greek, the name Ophir has origins from the word Ophis, which means ‘serpent’. As the Hebrew word for serpent is ‘Saraph’, it is more likely that Ophir was a location that the Hebrews named, and not the Greeks. Experts even question the ivory, apes, and peacocks, as they too may be incorrect translations.

The author of a Spanish book called Colección General de Documentos Relativos a las Islas Filipinas (General Collection of Philippine Islands related Documents), describes the method required to find Ophir. The section ‘Document No. 98, written between 1519-22, Ophir can be found by first traveling from the Cape of Good Hope to India. From there onto Burma, Sumatra, then Moluccas, Borneo, Sulu and then China. According to this claim, Ophir exists in front of China towards the sea and many islands. This would rule out Japan and Taiwan as options and make the Philippines a more viable option. However there is no pea-cock found in these areas.

Though the Qur'an omits Matthew's episode of the Magi, it was well known in Arabia. The Muslim encyclopaedist al-Tabari, writing in the 9th century, gives the familiar symbolism of the gifts of the Magi. Al-Tabari gave his source for the information to be the later 7th century writer Wahb ibn Munabbih born about 654 CE. It adds several additional details to the story.
(1) they were indeed Persians; (2) not themselves kings, but the king's messengers; (3) and suggests they were true Magi (not simply 'wise men') because they were astrologers:

The sovereign in Jerusalem at the time was Caesar, and it was on his behalf that Herod the Great reigned in Jerusalem. Messengers of the king of Persia came to him. Sent to Christ, they came to Herod by mistake. They informed Herod that the king of Persia had sent them to offer Christ the gifts they carried, gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense. They told him that they had observed that Christ's star had risen - they had learned through computation.



‘Gold’(in Hebrew Zahav זהב ) has the numerology value of 14, which equals “David” (דוד ). 

According to some scholars, gold mentioned here is again another incense which was used on the golden altar in the temple

 Ex. 30:34 "God said to Moses: Take fragrances such as balsam, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, all of the same weight, as well as other specified fragrances."

The incense which was offered in the Holy Temple was made from eleven different ingredients, only four of which are mentioned by name in the verse above. The identity of the other seven spices has been passed down in the Oral Tradition. As is the case with regard to many other areas of Temple study, the exact classification of these ingredients is the subject of serious research and scholarship. Many of these are rare, and some can be obtained only in exotic and distant lands.

The method, or recipe, for preparing the special incense offering from these ingredients was a closely-guarded secret, passed down from generation to generation within the ranks of one particular family known as Avtinas. In addition to the identity of the spices and the exact amounts and manner in which they are prepared,remain secret to this day


Eleven kinds of spices were in it, as follows: (1) stacte (נָטָף nataf), (2) onycha,(שְׁחֵלֶת shekheleth) (3) galbanum,(חֶלְבְּנָה khelbanah) (4) frankincense (לְבוֹנָה זָךְ levonah zach) each weighing seventy mina   (5) myrrh, (6) cassia, (7) spikenard, (8) saffron, each weighing sixteen mina [and each comprising 4.35% of the total weight]; (9) costus - twelve mina [comprising 3.26% of the total weight]; (10) aromatic bark - three and (11) cinnamon 

(Josephus gives thirteen ingredients.)
Additionally Carshina lye, nine kab; Cyprus wine, three se'ah and three kab - if he has no Cyprus wine, he brings old white wine; Sodom salt, a quarter-kab; and a minute amount of maaleh ashan


 Rabbi Nathan of Babylon says: Also a minute amount of Jordan amber. If he added honey, he invalidated it; if he [deliberately] omitted one of the spices, he was liable to the death penalty.



Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping God on high.

Botanical Name: Boswellia Serrata
Plant Part: Resin
Origin: India, Middle East
Frankincense is an aromatic, clear resin obtained from trees in northern India and Arabia (Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20). 
Extraction Method: Steam Distilled
Plant Description: he Frankincense tree originates from Northern India and the Middle East, and is small with abundant pinnacle leaves. The flowers are white or pale pink. Frankincense resin begins as a milky-white sticky liquid that flows from the trunk of the tree when it's cut, healing the wound. The resin is then distilled producing the precious oil.
Color: Colorless to pale yellow clear liquid.

Aromatic Fragrance: Frankincense Essential Oil has a rich woody, earthy scent with a deeply mysterious nuance. Frankincense from India (Boswellia serrata) is a mild and less pungent variety. This variety should not be mistaken for Frankincense from Somalia (Boswellia carterii) which is pungent, smoky and traditionally used in religious ceremony.

Common Applications: The therapeutic properties of Frankincense Essential Oil include use as an antiseptic, astringent, carminative, digestive, diuretic, sedative, tonic and expectorant. Frankincense is said to help rejuvenate the aging skin, and is effective with bacterial and fungal infections. The anti-inflammatory property of this oil is reputed to be an effective treatment for joint pain and arthritis. Frankincense can also be used as an insect repellent and is also widely used in cosmetics and soap manufacturing. It has a grounding aroma, and often used in meditation.

Frankincense is highly fragrant when burned and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God (Exodus 30:34). Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness.  

Frankincense was an ingredient used in the sanctuary of the Lord (Exodus 30:34) as part of the meat offering (Leviticus 2:1, 16; 6:15; 24:7) and as a sweet savor (incense). 
Frankincense is also a symbol of prayer (Psalm 141:2; Luke 1:10; Revelation 5:8; 8:3).

Because of the use in the Temple, frankincense is considered to be emblematic of Jesus’ office as a Priest of God (Exodus 30:34-37).  It is also symbolic of the priest’s work in offering the prayers of the people to the Lord, (Luke 1:10, Revelation 8:3-5).

The gift of frankincense, given by one of the wise men, pointed to the work of Jesus as a Priest of God, who ministered for three and one half years to the people.The gift of frankincense to the Christ child was symbolic of His willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving Himself up, analogous to a burnt offering.It is used in incense and perfumes, and was treasured for its aroma and healing properties.

Represented as an ‘Emblem of Prayer’, Frankincense is yet another Biblical oil that brings you close to heaven by appeasing your mind, relieving your pain, strengthening your positive emotions and implanting enormous beauty benefits.

Extracted from the gum or resin of Boswellia frereana tree by steam distillation, Frankincense essential oil is often held high for its power to spread health and heartiness in a magic of minutes, just like that.

Ayurveda quotes the use of Frankincense as ‘dhoopan’, and burning Frankincense everyday in homes is trusted to bring good health in Indian culture.

Known as ‘Dhoop’ in Sanskrit, Frankincense and its essential oil have been used for more than thousands of years in Ayurvedic healing in the treatment of respiratory illnesses, arthritis, weak female hormone system, rheumatism, skin infections, wounds, womanly problems and for cleansing the air.

Wonderfully calming and richly fragrant, Frankincense essential oil is highly valued for its medicinal powers. Oleoresins are a part of a trees immune system, secreted to protect it from herbivores, insects, and fungal pathogens. In a similar way, frankincense has medicinal functions related to enhancing human immunity and supporting rapid healing. Frankincense has been used historically for treating respiratory infections, and regenerating the skin. Its effectiveness is proven to ease pain (arthritis), support memory and attention, heal ulcers, poor circulation, and fight cancer. Frankincense is a diuretic that promotes better kidney and liver function for hepatitis as it speeds up the removal of toxins from the body.

Frankincense slows the breathing, and calms the nervous and digestive systems, relieving anxiety, depression, nervous tension, emotional upsets, and stress-related digestive problems. Frankincense is helpful for cystitis, as it has an affinity with the genitourinary system. As an immune stimulant and an expectorant it can help respiratory and catarrhal conditions such as asthma, and chronic bronchitis.

Frankincense has wound-healing, astringent, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal for treating cuts, scars, blemishes, and inflammation, and it is recommended for firming aging skin

Land of Frankincense, Oman

One of the UNESCO World Heritage designations is the Land of Frankincense in Dhofar in the south of Oman, incorporating a group of archaeological sites connected with the production and export of frankincense. They constitute outstanding testimony to the civilization that, from the Neolithic to the late Islamic period, flourished in southern Arabia. The Oasis of Shishr and the entrepôts of Khor Rawri and Al Balid are excellent examples of medieval fortified settlements. Ptolemy identified 3 areas in the Dhofar region in which the frankincense tree (Boswellia sacra) is still found today.

Differences in soil and climate, as well as different species of trees, produce different resins; Dhofari frankincense is reckoned the best in the World. Frankincense is tapped from the Boswellia tree when it is 8 to 10 years old, by slashing the bark and letting the resin bleed out and harden into what are called tears. There are a different species of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin. Tapping is done 2 to 3 times a year with the final taps producing the best quality.


The Frankincense Tree (Boswellia Sacra), Dhofar, Oman


Dhofari Frankincense, The best in the World







Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Commiphora myrrha tree, one of the primary trees from which myrrh is harvested 















Myrrh was used as an embalming ointment and as a penitential incense in funerals and cremations until the 15th century. The "holy oil" traditionally used by the Eastern Orthodox Church for performing the sacraments of chrismation and unction is traditionally scented with myrrh, and receiving either of these sacraments is commonly referred to as "receiving the myrrh".

Myrrh is a natural gum or resin extracted from a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora. Myrrh resin has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense, and medicine. Myrrh mixed with wine can also be ingested.

Myrrh is used for indigestion, ulcers, colds, cough, asthma, lung congestion, arthritis pain, cancer, leprosy, spasms, and syphilis. It is also used as a stimulant and to increase menstrual flow.

Myrrh is applied directly to the mouth for soreness and swelling, inflamed gums (gingivitis), loose teeth, canker sores, bad breath, and chapped lips. It is also used topically for hemorrhoids, bedsores, wounds, abrasions, and boils.

In foods and beverages, myrrh is used as a flavoring component.

In manufacturing, myrrh is used as a fragrance, in incense, and as a fixative in cosmetics. It is also used in embalming.

Myrrh can help decrease swelling (inflammation) and kill bacteria.


Myrrh was a spice and was used in embalming. It foreshadowed the death of Jesus on the cross sufferring the ultimate pain as a payment of humanity’s sin as its representative. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Savior when He was about to be crucified, as a stupefying potion (Mark 15:23). Matthew 27:34 refers to it as “gall.” Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction. It tells of the  ultimate price he would pay to redeem Adamic race through his incarnation and death and of his ultimate resurrection the aroma of the myrrh.
Whether they really understood this reality then is another question.

With its smoky, earthy scent, myrrh has a long history as a favorite among all cultures going back to its first discovery in the far reaches of time. A native to Ethiopia and Somalia, it has been used as long ago as 3000 BCE by the Egyptians in embalming, and as an incense burned during cremations and funerals to disguise any foul odors up through the 15th century. Myrrh is said to be one of the key ingredients in the mythical Egyptian perfume Kyphi. It has also been used to anoint kings, and scent fabrics for those traveling to holy places. Myrrh has had a great value throughout time; the Romans even valued it as much as gold, using it as security for monetary debts.

Jesus - God, Priest and King

John Chrysostom suggested that the gifts were fit to be given not just to a king but to God, and contrasted them with the Jews' traditional offerings of sheep and calves, and accordingly Chrysostom asserts that the Magi worshiped Jesus as God.

 What subsequently happened to these gifts is never mentioned in the scripture, but several traditions have developed.

One story has the gold being stolen by the two thieves who were later crucified alongside Jesus. Another tale has it being entrusted to and then misappropriated by Judas. One tradition suggests that Joseph and Mary used the gold to finance their travels when they fled Bethlehem after an angel had warned, in a dream, about King Herod's plan to kill Jesus. And another story proposes the theory that the myrrh given to them at Jesus' birth was used to anoint Jesus' body after his crucifixion.

The Orthodox monastery at Mount Athos claims to have the three gifts of the magi:


There was a 15th-century golden case purportedly containing the Gift of the Magi housed in the Monastery of St. Paul of Mount Athos. It was donated to the monastery in the 15th century by Mara Branković, daughter of the King of Serbia Đurađ Branković, wife to the Ottoman Sultan Murat II and godmother to Mehmet II the Conqueror (of Constantinople). After the Athens earthquake of September 7, 1999 they were temporarily displayed in Athens in order to strengthen faith and raise money for earthquake victims. The relics were displayed in Ukraine and Belarus in Christmas of 2014,also.

Daniel’s gift

Some apocryphal traditions indicates that Daniel transmitted his prophecy regarding the birth of Jesus and of the coming of the stars through the generations of magi who were with him.  They also seems to indicate that he in fact left his wealth in the form of gold, frankincense and myrrh which were actually carried by the magi and presented to baby Jesus.  Daniel seems not to have any family and he must have been a eunuch.  So he left all his wealth for the family of Jesus who came in need of it to escape Herod and run to Egypt and safety.

Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel Chief of the Magi. Later he was made chief administrator of two kingdoms, both Babylon and Persia under four different kings . . . He was most likely a eunuch. Nebuchadnezzar entrusted all the young Hebrew captives to the ‘Master of the Eunuchs’ in Daniel 1:3. Being wealthy and having no heir would make it completely likely that Daniel might leave his fortune as an inheritance to give to the messiah.

This is a tradition known throughout the Middle East: That Daniel did leave his vast fortune to provide for the study of astronomy among the Magi and for gifts for them to carry to the messiah upon his birth. The Bible does not corroborate this tradition. Daniel lived more than 500 years before the birth of Jesus.

Adam’s gift to the New Adam

The Book of the Cave of Treasures, sugggests that these gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh - that the magi carried date back to earliest times even before the expulsion Adam from Eden.

And Adam took from the skirts of the mountain of Paradise, gold, and myrrh, and frankincense, and he placed them in the cave, and he blessed the cave, and consecrated it that it might be the house of prayer for himself and his sons. And he called the cave the Cave of Treasures.

AFTER these things God said unto Adam, "Thou didst ask of Me something from the garden, to be comforted therewith, and I have given thee these three tokens as a consolation to thee; that thou trust in Me and in My covenant with thee.

2 "For I will come and save thee; and kings shall bring me when in the flesh, gold, incense and myrrh; gold as a token of My kingdom; incense as a token of My divinity; and myrrh as a token of My suffering and of My death.

3 "But, O Adam, put these by thee in the cave; the gold that it may shed light over thee by night; the incense, that thou smell its sweet savour; and the myrrh, to comfort thee in thy sorrow."

4 When Adam heard these words from God, he worshipped……..
9.  The gold was seventy rods; the incense, twelve pounds; and the myrrh, three pounds.

In the Testament of Adam, Seth describes the death and burial of Adam. After Adam’s death, Seth places his last testament in the Cave of Treasures, “with the offerings Adam had taken out of Paradise, gold and myrrh and frankincense.”

Eventually Adam died and was placed in the cave. As the flood was upon the race at the time of Noah, Yared, who died before the Flood, ordered his son Enoch and his other heirs:
Let him that is among you who shall go forth from that holy country take with him the body of our father Adam, and the offerings [of gold, frankincense, and myrrh] that are in the Cave of Treasures, and let him carry away and deposit the body in the place wherein he shall be commanded by God to set it down. 

Around 400 AD, the Six Books Apocryphon reports that
Our father Adam when dying, commanded in his Testament his son Seth and said to him, “My son Seth, lo, offerings are laid by me in the Cave of Treasures, gold and myrrh and frankincense; because God is about to come into the world, and to be seized by evil and wicked men, and to die, and make by his death a resurrection for all children of Adam.”

At the time of the great flood, the body of Adam along with the three offerings were carried in the Ark and was burried in the cave under the site called Golgotha,

 And lo, the Magi, the sons of kings, came carrying these offerings, and went and conveyed them to the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem.

Now the Magi are called "Magi" because of the garb of Magianism in which the heathen kings arrayed themselves whensoever they offered up a sacrifice and made offerings to their gods. They made use of two different kinds of apparel; that which appertained to royalty [they wore] inside, and that which appertained to Magianism outside  And thus also was it with those who went up prepared to make offerings to Christ, and they were arrayed in both kinds of apparel. ("Cave of Treasures.")
They were both priests and kings.


Jesus:  Prophet, Priest and King - the Magi of the Magies.

        Myrrh, Frankincense and Gold





There is a whole lot of wild reaction when we say, “these  magi saw a star and deduced from it that a King had been born to the Jews.”

That is exactly what the scripture says.
When Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem in Judea, Herod was king.  During this time some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and said, "Where is the child born to be king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
Did they see his star in the east?
How did they know it was his star?
How could a star lead them to the exact country and house?
Did the star lead them in all the places wherever they came from, from all different countries?

Evidently these are attempts by the modern 20th century ultra-Christian attempts.  Unless we see the magi interpreted the positions of the star to mean that a child was born to be the King of Jews, and somehow these stars led them to Jerusalem, we have no means of escape from interpreting this reality.

Yes there is strict prohibition in the following verse: “And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, and you feel driven to worship them and serve them. (Deuteronomy 4:19)

If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you, a man or woman who has . . . gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven which I have not commanded, . . . then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. (Deuteronomy 17:2-3, 5)

This prohibition is against worshipping the hosts of heaven not against studying them, nor interpreting them.  It may well be easier than interpreting the dreams.

Sure enough the interpretations may not be always correct, just as all all scientific predictions do not always come true. That is why repeated experiments are needed. Hence we have the warning.  For a scientist it is always a learning process.- Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis process.:

» Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, and the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from these things that shall come upon you. Behold, they shall be as stubble, the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame. (Isaiah 47:13-14)

In the case of the magi, they were a hundred percent sure of what they expected from the astronomical observation of some star event and its astrological interpretation.  The wise men who visited Jesus knew in advance who they were going to visit and that the purpose of their visit was to worship Him (Matthew 2:2, 11). The point is that we still believe that they were a 100% right. While modern Bible prophets a 100 of them went haywire and burned themselves determining the date of the coming of Mesiah a second time, those heathen magi got the coming of the mesiah a first time right and got blessed.  They were Christians saved by grace more than 30 years ahead of the Christians.

Astrology and Astronomy went side by side in all the ancient world including Israel. This is simply based on these statements:

The Bible says the stars are a testimony to the handiwork of God.

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4a Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Paul quotes this in Romans 10:18 "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."  

Do you know the ordinance of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth? (Job 38:33).
Do you think that the heavens has some form of dominion over the earth? 

"And Elohim said, Let there be lights in the raki’a (firmament) of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for otot (signs), and for mo’adim (seasons), and for yamim (days), and shanim (years)" (Genesis 1:14)

Luke 21:7  And they asked Jesus, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?……………..10  Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: 11  And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven…..25
And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars

Ecclesiastes Rabbah (a commentary of Ecclesiates )states that the rulers of some non-Jewish nations were experts in astrology, and that King Solomon too had expertise in this realm.  Like in Christianity the opinions differs very widely in Judaism.

The Zohar reveals that the people of the East received wisdom (meaning the wisdom of Kabbalah, which includes the knowledge of astrology) from Abraham, who was himself an astrologer (Midrash Zuta Shir haShirim 1, siman 1). As it is written “To the sons of the concubines which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts and sent them away from his son Itzhaq, Eastward, to the land of the East” (Gn 25:6). The “gifts” (matanot) mentioned here are gifts of true wisdom, which his sons brought with them and became great sages, but those things were misused and turned into many idolatrous paths (cf. Zohar Vayera I:99b).

It should not be a surprise that (contrary to popular belief) the Torah doesn’t forbid astrology per se, what it forbids is inquiring from a ‘meOnen’; i.e, one who determines auspicious times (cf. Rashi on Deut 18:9-10) or performs cloud divination (Ibn Ezra on Deut 18:10). In the same manner, there’s not hallakhic prohibition about astrology, but among the commentaries there are Hashkafot (personal opinions) ranging from its total rejection, being labelled as ‘stupidity’ – as it was the case of Rambam (in his Letter about Astrology) – to a complete acceptation and study of the discipline as it was the case of Ibn Ezra, who wrote nine astrological treatises (cf. Reshit Hokhma). However, even someone as reluctant to astrology as it was Rambam seemed to acknowledge that at least to some degree it could be used to predict the future (cf. Yesodei haTorah 10:3).
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Ps. 147:4).

Consider the stars' names and their meaning, which "all declare the Glory of God" (Ps. 19):

· Orion: "Coming as light," the Prince of Light;

· Rigel: "The foot that crushes" [the serpent], and

· Saiph: "bruised" [the serpent];

· Betelgeuse: "The coming of the branch" representing "the shoot from the stump of Jesse" (Is. 11:1);

· Bellatrix: "Swiftly destroying," the Prince who avenges His people; and

· Al Nitak: "The wounded," who redeems His people.

In fact, the 24 brightest stars seen from Earth, are referenced in verses from Genesis to Revelation.

Is the gospel in the stars?
Bethaney Blankly points out the signs in the heavenly constellation whose names  and symbolls are identitcal in all nations and cultures.  Can you read the signs in the following costellations?

12 signs of the Zodiac, their star groupings, and their part in telling the gospel story:  The Greek word for "sign" is the word which appears in the Greek secular literature for the signs of the Zodiac.

Here is the order in which the sun travels through the Zodiac:

VIRGO (The Virgin) – The promised Seed of the Woman
2. LIBRA (The Scales) – The price of atonement paid by Christ
3. SCORPIO (The Scorpion) – The Scorpion attacking but defeated
4. SAGITTARIUS (The Archer) – The conquering King
5. CAPRICORNUS (The Fish Goat) – The atoning sacrifice
6. AQUARIUS (The Water Bearer) – Living waters poured forth
7. PISCES (The Fishes) – Rise of Christianity
8. ARIES (The Ram or Lamb) – The Lamb of God
9. TAURUS (The Bull) – Messiah coming to rule
10. GEMINI (The Twins) – Twofold nature of the King
11. CANCER (The Crab) – Christ treated like a worm of the earth
12. LEO (The Lion) – Christ, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah coming to conquer
Is there a gospel in the skies?  I leave it there.
Is it a written story or an illustrated comic.?




These names are almost the same with most cultures from ancient of days:
Around 2700 - 2500 BC, Sumerian Gudea Cylinder A   recorded the existence of a “Tablet of the stars of the heavens.” 



GU.AN.NA "The Steer of Heaven" (Taurus)

•MAŠ.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL “Great Twins" (Gemini)

•AL.LUL "The Crayfish" (Cancer)

•UR.GU.LA "The Lion" (Leo)

•AB.SIN "The Seed-Furrow" (Virgo)

•ZIB.BA.AN.NA/zi-ba-ni-tum "The Scales" (Libra)

•GIR.TAB "The Scorpion" (Scorpius)

•PA.BIL.SAG (Sagittarius)

•SUḪUR.MAŠ.KU "The Goat-Fish" (Capricorn)

•GU.LA "The Great One" (Aquarius)

•KUN.MEŠ "The tails" (Pisces)

•LU.ḪUŊ.GA "The Agrarian Worker" (Aries)

Mesopotamian tablets dating about 1800 B.C. record both star names and the observations of planetary movements.

Dating about 1400 B.C. are Chinese oracle bones which list the Chinese star names.

Babylonian and Chaldean tablets dating from 800 - 600 B.C. record the zodiac signs by name.




Zodiac Mosaic in a 6th-century synagogue at Beit Alpha, Israel.
In pre-modern Hebrew, astrology was known as hokmat ha-mazalot,
"the science of the constellations".


Richard T. Ritenbaugh says over
Revelation 6:12-17

Mankind has always been fascinated with the heavens: their beauties, their mysteries, their movements, and their surprises. Early on in man's history, after years of observation and record keeping, the learned discovered that—with certain exceptions—the movements of the heavenly bodies could be predicted, as could phenomena like eclipses, comets, and meteor showers. To them, what occurred on the dark canvas of space revealed creation's design, order, and perfection. As David wrote, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1).

Despite the rational, scientific understanding of most celestial happenings, sudden changes in the normally placid, soothing nighttime sky can cause wonder and even panic. Comets, long thought to portend world-changing events, have been known to ignite terrors in superstitious people. Eclipses of the sun can spur the unenlightened to believe the end of the world has come, as can a "bloody" moon. From the earliest times, men and women perverted even the regular movements of heavenly bodies into astrology, and millions still consult their readings daily. God warns, "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them" (Jeremiah 10:2).

Yet, God Himself uses heavenly phenomena as signs of momentous events. Perhaps the most famous is the "Star of Bethlehem," which guided the wise men to their audience with the young King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11). Though this "star" was most likely an angel standing as a beacon for the magi to follow, many have postulated "natural" explanations such as comets and supernovae. The Ninth Plague on Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23), Joshua's Long Day (Joshua 10:12-14), Hezekiah's Sundial (II Kings 20:8-11), and the darkness during Jesus' crucifixion (Matthew 27:45) all involved aberrations of expected solar behavior. All signaled major movements in God's plan.

The sixth seal also involves heavenly bodies doing the unexpected: The sun darkens, the moon turns blood-red, the stars fall, and the sky itself rolls up like a scroll. Not only do these terrifying cosmic wonders signal the beginning of the Day of the Lord, but they, like the previous five seals, also serve as judgments against sinful mankind on planet Earth.

Joel 2:30-31 : "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD."

In the Olivet Prophecy, Jesus repeats the warning: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24-25). Luke's rendition adds a few details:

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. (Luke 21:25-26)

Signs and wonders in heaven is part of Christian heritage, though we have been failing its interpretation hundred of times.


In the Hellenistic age some of the Magi left Babylon and travelled to neighbouring countries to teach and practise astronomy/astrology, which was a core educational subject in the ancient world (e. g. Plato, The Republic,529). This was the beginning of the process of principles of science as we know today.  

Thus the first century AD (20 BC–50 AD) Jewish scholar Philo of Alexandria stated that the student of astronomy perceives ‘timely signs of coming events ’ since ‘ the stars were made for signs ’ (De Opzficio Mandi, 22).  He living around the time of Jesus, wrote favorably about an eastern school of magi. In Every Good Man is Free (11 §72) he wrote, “Among the Persians there exists a group, the magi, who investigating the works of nature for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the truth, initiate others in the divine virtues by very clear explanations.”

The fact remains that the Magi whoever and wherever they come from, got it correct.-They were so sure to make that long, tedious and expensive journey. Unless of course Matthew forged it to make a claim. Since Mathew alone states this we have no means of checking it with other gospel writers.

I come from the area from which the Magi from Kerala came.  In my school days I had dabbled in astrology and was surprised at their accuracy of astronomical knowledge. Horoscopes and other attempts to interpret life and success is part of their study with chances of failure and success. In Missiology we teach that a good communicator speaks in the language and symbols of the culture of the receiver.  This is the foundation of Anthropology for Missions which I have taught for six years.  Apparently God knew how to talk to these Magi in their own language and cultural symbols which hit them right and absolutely right.  We don’t know what was it though, if it was astronomy we can probably try to figure out by interpreting the constellations and sun, moon and planets and the occasional comets, nova or probably even a flying saucer or an angel itself.  

Prohecy of Balaam

I see him, but not now.
I see him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob.
A scepter will rise out of Israel,
and shall strike through the corners of Moab,
and break down all the sons of Sheth. Numbers 24:17


Augustine - The City of God:

“It is not incongruous to believe that even in other nations there may have been men to whom this mystery was revealed, and were also impelled to proclain it, whether they were partakers of the same grace or had no experience of it, but were taught by bad angels, who, as we know, even confessed the present Christ, whom even the Jews did not acknowledge.


Origen (185-254)– Homilies on Numbers  

If Balaam’s prophecies were included in the sacred books by Moses, how much more would they have been copied by those who were then living in Mesopotamia, among whom Balaam had a great reputation and who are known to have been disciples in his art. It is said that the race of Magi descends from him, and that their institution flourishes in eastern lands, and that they [the Magi] had copied among them all of Balaam’s prophecies, including “A star shall arise out of Jacob” [Num 24.17]. The Magi had these things written among themselves, and so when Jesus was born they recognized the star and understood that the prophecy was fulfilled.


Ignatius - Letter to the Ephesians 19.2-3

A star shone in heaven,brighter than all the stars,
and its light was ineffable, and its novelty caused astonishment ;
all the other stars together with the sun and moon became a chorus for the star,
and it outshone them all with its light ;
and there was perplexity as to whence came this novelty so unlike them.
Thence was destroyed all magic, and every bond vanished ;
evil’s ignorance was abolished, the old kingdom perished,
God being revealed as human to bring newness of eternal life,
and what had been prepared by God had its beginning ;
hence all things were disturbed because the destruction of death was being worked out.






The star was prophecied long before when the children of Israel was trying to enter the Canaan. This was prophesied by a “pagan” Prphet Balaam.

The prophecy of the star is found in Numbers, chapter 24, verse l7, and

is part of the oracle of Balaam:



“I see him, but not now;

I behold him, but not near:

a star shall come forth out of Jacob,

a comet arise from Israel.”


Balaam, was summoned from Pethor in Babylonia by King Balak of Moab to curse the Israelites who were about to cross into Moab en route to the Promised Land during the great journey of the Exodus. Balaam did not curse the Israelites, he could only bless them. The oracle of Balaam can

be dated to the thirteenth century BC.

A legend states that the Magi were descendants of the great soothsayer Balaam?


The Jewish expectation of a star heralding the birth of the Messiah was [pwerfully present in the lives of Israel especially at the time of bondage and dispersion of the nation.  Mesiahs came up claiming to redeem them.  Among them was Simon ben Kosiba who led the last Jewish revolt against the Romans in AD 132-135 .  He actually changed his name to Bar Cochba, which in Hebrew meant “Son of the Star”, in order to strengthen his messianic claims. The rebellion was unsuccessful and Bar Cozeba died in AD 13523.

Many historians have attempted to determine the date of Jesus' birth by looking for records concerning comets, meteors, supernovae, conjunctions of planets, and the like.

What was the "star" that led the wise men to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem? Was it a physical star at all? Whatever it was, the "star" (Greek aster) was definitely of miraculous origin; it was probably no ordinary, physical star. For instance, it had the ability to move. Matthew writes that the star "went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was" (Matthew 2:9). No star  can point to a particular house unless it is is flying saucer.  Way back in Yemen when we were discussing this in our Bible Study, a British diplomat suggested that it certainly was a flying saucer to pin point the house where the baby lay. we have ever seen can do that! Even shooting stars—really meteors burning up in the atmosphere—cannot change directions and stop over a specific place!

Yet it would be interesting to look into these “heathen” astrology to see whether they fit the basic signs.
After all God did reach out to those “heathens” to bring them to Jesus when all the Israel found no hope. A Herod was still ruling..  No one knew of this baby in the manger and no one cared. There comes these heathen perverted socerers who read the sky as though it was book and came to the right place at the right time.

With all our written documentations in stones, copper, and paper written in the signs what we call letters we do not know what year Jesus was born.  We don’t know exactly what year Herod died.  It was considered to be in 4 BC.  Now apparently it is dated anything between 8 BC and 1 AD.  As such we cannot really identify the signs which which those heathens read correctly using sorcery and divination.  Another difficulty is the lack of full observation of the heavenly astronomical data which we find distributed all over the world in part.  Yet scholars have made some suggestions which I will indicate broadly. Only thing we know for certain is that Jesu was born somewhere near December 25 or January 6.  I have a whole book on that study in which I have shown that if we trust the Luke’s story of birth of John the baptist then we have Jesus’ birthday almost certain.


In the following portions I try to give an idea of the attempts by astronomers through modern ages to identify what the magi perceived as the Star of Bethlehem. We do not really know where and when to look for the signs and may never be able to identify it.

The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi, Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman World, and Modern AstronomyMSeries: Themes in Biblical Narrative, Volume: 19- Editors: George H. van Kooten and Peter Barthel 

This book is the fruit of the first ever interdisciplinary international scientific conference on Matthew's story of the Star of Bethlehem and the Magi, held in 2014 at the University of Groningen, and attended by world-leading specialists in all areas.

Publication Date: 2 November 2015

ISBN: 978-90-04-30847-3



The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-roman World, and Modern Astronomy Paperback – November 23, 2015

by Peter Barthel (Author, Editor), George van Kooten (Author, Editor), Michael Farrell (Illustrator)

(edited by astronomer Peter Barthel and theologian George van Kooten, collects interdisciplinary perspectives from experts on the ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman world, and modern astronomy. The book is the proceedings of an international conference that took place in 2014 at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.)

Largely, the articles are a response to a previous study by astronomer Michael Molnar, published in his 1999 book The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi, where he claims that the star was an actual astronomical event, namely the appearance of Jupiter in conjunction with the sun, the moon, and Saturn in the constellation of Aries — which modern celestial mechanics calculations show occurred on April 17 in the year B.C. 6. According to Molnar, astrologers would interpret such celestial event as a major portent, signaling a sort of royal birth. Couple that with the expectation of a Messiah born from the house of David, and the connection between a celestial event and the actual birth was justified. According to Molnar, the Three Wise Men were actually (Persian? Arabian?) astrologers well-versed in the motion of the skies and, hence, keen to see such powerful astrological sign vindicated in reality.

Barthel and Kooten summarize the results of their conference into four questions: What? (the astronomical phenomena); When? (the chronology of events); How? (the role of astronomy and astrology); Why? (the evangelist's motivation). On the nature of the astronomical phenomena, there was complete agreement with Molnar, qualified agreement and radical disagreement. On the "when," most agreed that Jesus's birth took place between B.C. 7 and B.C. 5. On the "how," there was mostly disagreement as to the intentions and interpretations of astrologers from different regions in the Middle East. One particular difficulty was to justify the appearance of only three "wise men," given the supposed power of the celestial portent. Why not a multitude? As for the "why," Matthew was the one evangelist that considered celestial portents seriously, as they indeed colored his narrative throughout. For example, for the end of time prophecy he would write (Matthew 24:29): "the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heaven will be shaken." Matthew saw prophecy mirrored in the skies.

Although opinions diverge, it seems that celestial events did occur around the birth of Jesus. The problem is that they often do, some more spectacular than others. To the extent that they provide context to a religious narrative, there is a confluence between myth-building and expectation, the skies being the realm of God and thus sacred, sending us signals of what is to come.


Prof David Hughes, an astronomer from the University of Sheffield, first published a review of the theories on the famous star in the 1970s.

Conjunction Theory


When two or more planets fall one on each other or come close to each other so as to  produces a bright source of light from both.  Depending on the constellation it happens, more interpretations are possible

In 1614, German astronomer Johannes Kepler determined that a series of three conjunctions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn occurred in the year 7 BC.[8] He argued (incorrectly) that a planetary conjunction could create a nova, which he linked to the Star of Bethlehem

Prof. Karlis Kaufmanis, an astronomer, argued that this was an astronomical event connected to the Star of Bethlehem where Jupiter and Saturn were in a triple conjunction in the constellation Pisces. Archaeologist and Assyriologist Simo Parpola has also suggested this explanation.

Hughes's best explanation for this series of events is something known as a triple conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn - with the two planets coming close together in the sky three times over a short period. "[This happens when] you get an alignment between the Sun, the Earth, Jupiter and Saturn," says Hughes.
The astronomer Johannes Kepler noted in the early 17th century that every 805 years, the planets Jupiter and Saturn come into extraordinary repeated conjunction, with Mars joining the configuration a year later. Since Kepler, astronomers have computed that for ten months in 7 B.C., Jupiter and Saturn traveled very close to each other in the night sky, and in May, September, and December of that year, they were conjoined. Mars joined the configuration in February of 6 B.C. The astrological interpretation of such a conjunction would have told the Magi much, if, as seems probable, they shared the astrological lore of the area. Jupiter and Saturn met each other in Pisces, the Fishes.

In ancient astrology, the giant planet Jupiter was styled the “King’s Planet,” for it represented to the Romans the highest god and ruler of the universe: Marduk to the Babylonians and Zeus to the Greeks. The ringed planet Saturn was deemed the shield or defender of Palestine, while the constellation of Pisces, which was also associated with Syria and Palestine, represented epochal events and crises. So Jupiter encountering Saturn in the sign of the Fishes would have meant that a divine and cosmic ruler was to appear in Palestine at a culmination of history.

In 3–2 BC, there was a series of seven conjunctions, including three between Jupiter and Regulus and a strikingly close conjunction between Jupiter and Venus near Regulus on June 17, 2 BC.    
Another Venus–Jupiter conjunction occurred earlier in August, 3 BC.
These can be considered only if Herod death happened after 2 BC. With the older date of 4 BC these do not come into picture.

Comet Theory
The second favoured explanation is a very bright comet.  Origen in AD 248.proposed it

Comets are mostly ice and like every other objects moves in oval orbits which takes long years to complete. As thye approach the sun, ice melts to produce a tail.   

Halley's Comet was visible in 12 BC which of course is too early for the Bethlehem star.
In 1871, the English astronomer John Williams published his authoritative list of comets derived from Chinese annals.
Comet No. 52 on the Williams list appeared for some seventy days in March-April of 5 B.C. near the constellation Capricorn and would have been visible in both the Far and Near East. As each night wore on, of course, the comet would seem to have moved westward across the southern sky. The time is also very appropriate. This could indeed have been the Wise Men‘s astral marker.

Comet No. 53 on the Williams list is a tailless comet, which could well have been a nova, as Williams admitted. No. 53 appeared in March-April of 4 B.C. — a year after its predecessor — in the area of the constellation Aquila, which was also visible all over the East.

In a 1991 article in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomer Colin Humphreys proposed that the Star of Bethlehem was actually a slow-moving comet, which Chinese observers recorded in 5 BC. A tailless comet appeared in the constellation Aquila on April 24 of 4 BC.


The appearance of comets are interpreted in various ways depending on the culture

· Pliny the Elder described comets of omens of evil happenings. In India it was considered as an ill omen.

· The emperor Augustus interpreted a favorable omen for a comet observed during his early struggles with Marc Anthony. He claimed the comet was the soul of the murdered Julius Caesar ascending to heaven as a god. He was believed.

· The ancient Chinese believed comets were a sign that the yin and yang of the universe were unbalanced, and that something was about to happen to fix this. A power struggle will invariably take place. Theory

Super Novae Theory

Another theory is that the star was light from the birth of a new star, or nova.Dr Robert Cockcroft, manager of the McCallion Planetarium at McMaster University in Ontario says a nova is "a good candidate" for the star of Bethlehem.Novae have been suggested, the unexpected, sudden brightening of a star from invisibility into a bright object for a period of days or weeks. There is no historical record of such a nova, nor is it clear what a nova’s astrological significance would be. Comets are candidates, for they appear sporadically, move, and even seem to point down to the earth. (This was Origen’s choice.)



In September of 3 B.C., Jupiter came into conjunction with Regulus, the star of kingship, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo. Leo was the constellation of kings, and it was associated with the Lion of Judah. The royal planet approached the royal star in the royal constellation representing Israel. Just a month earlier, Jupiter and Venus, the Mother planet, had almost seemed to touch each other in another Close conjunction, also in Leo. Then the conjunction between Jupiter and Regulus was repeated, not once but twice, in February and May of 2 B.C. Finally, in June of 2 B.C., Jupiter and Venus, the two brightest objects in the sky save the sun and the moon, experienced an even closer encounter when their disks appeared to touch; to the naked eye they became a single object above the setting sun. This exceptionally rare spectacle could not have been missed by the Magi.






September 11, 3 B.C., is perhaps the most interesting date of all. Not only was Jupiter very close to Regulus in the first of their conjunctions, but the sun was in the constellation of Virgo (of obvious symbolism), together with the new moon, in a configuration that fits a plausible interpretation of a passage in the Book of Revelation describing the birth of a male child who is to be the ruler of the universe. Significantly, September 11, 3 B.C., also marked the beginning of the Jewish New Year, traditionally regarded as the anniversary of Noah’s landing after the Great Flood.


But if the planet Jupiter was the Star of Bethlehem, or was a component of the events that triggered the visit by the Magi, how do we view the final appearance of the Star on their journey to Bethlehem? It would have been in the southern sky, though fairly high above the horizon. Could it have stopped over Bethlehem?


The answer is yes. The word “stop” was used for what we now call a planet’s “stationary point.” A planet normally moves eastward through the stars from night to night and month to month, but regularly exhibits a “retrograde loop.” As it approaches the opposite point in the sky from the sun, it appears to slow, come to a full stop, and move backward (westward) through the sky for some weeks. Again it slows, stops, and resumes its eastward course. It seems plausible that the Magi were “overjoyed” at again seeing before them, as they traveled southward, His star, Jupiter, which at its stationary point was standing still over Bethlehem. We do know for certain that Jupiter performed a retrograde loop in 2 B.C. and that it was stationary on December 25, interestingly enough, during Hanukkah, the season for giving presents.




Double occultation (Eclipse)

An occultation is an event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer.
Astronomer Michael R. Molnar double occultation of Jupiter by the moon on March 20 and April 17 of 6 BC in Aries, particularly the second occultation on April 17. 

Occultations of planets by the moon are quite common, but Firmicus Maternus, an astrologer to Roman Emperor Constantine, wrote that an occultation of Jupiter in Aries was a sign of the birth of a divine king.  He argues that Aries rather than Pisces was the zodiac symbol for Judea, a fact that would affect previous interpretations of astrological material. Molnar’s theory was debated by scientists, theologians, and historians during a colloquium on the Star of Bethlehem at the Netherlands’ University of Groningen in October 2014.  An occultation cannot travel with the observer to guide. "If Matthew’s wise men actually undertook a journey to search for a newborn king, the bright star didn’t guide them; it only told them when to set out." 

Shekinah Glory

Shekinah glory is a bright light which is associated with special glory of God communicating with man. Moses saw a burning bush,Israelites were led through the desert by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night,  Jesus shew his godliness at the transfiguration to the three disciples. Saul saw the glory on the road to Damascus, and was blinded by the light which the others with him saw as well. When God was imminently present, a bright light was associated with His presence. Thus it could have been such a shekinah that led the magi to Jerusalem as it led the Israel and above all it could pin point the house wherein Jesus was. This is a viable theory.

The Pointing Out the House over Baby Jesus.

One of the major problem with the stars of heaven leading the Magi to the house where Mary and child Jesus lived is that a moving star in the skies cannot pin point a house even with imagination.  The only possibility is a shooting star since they really fall to earth. So we could say the star just shot out onto the roof-top pointing the house and it must have just missed the house and burnt out before hitting.


It could even be a lightning striking over the house.


St.Elmino’s Fire.

Another possible explanation which is usually used in the case is called the St.Elmino’s Fire.>

St. Elmo's fire (also St. Elmo's light) is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a corona discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field in the atmosphere (such as those generated by thunderstorms or created by a volcanic eruption).

St. Elmo's fire is named after St. Erasmus of Formia (also called St. Elmo, one of the two Italian names for St. Erasmus, the other being St. Erasmo), the patron saint of sailors. The phenomenon sometimes appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms and was regarded by sailors with religious awe for its glowing ball of light, accounting for the name. Sailors may have considered St. Elmo's fire as a good omen (as a sign of the presence of their patron saint).

St. Elmo's fire is a bright blue or violet glow, appearing like fire in some circumstances, from tall, sharply pointed structures such as lightning rods, masts, spires, and chimneys, and on aircraft wings or nose cones. St. Elmo's fire can also appear on leaves and grass, and even at the tips of cattle horns. Often accompanying the glow is a distinct hissing or buzzing sound. It is sometimes confused with ball lightning.

St. Elmo's fire is a form of plasma. The electric field around the object in question causes ionization of the air molecules, producing a faint glow easily visible in low-light conditions. Conditions that can generate St. Elmo's fire are present during thunderstorms, when high voltage differentials are present between clouds and the ground underneath. A local electric field of approximately 100 kV/m is required to induce a discharge in air. The magnitude of the electric field depends greatly on the geometry (shape and size) of the object. Sharp points lower the necessary voltage because electric fields are more concentrated in areas of high curvature, so discharges preferably occur and are more intense at the ends of pointed objects.

The nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere cause St. Elmo's fire to fluoresce with blue or violet light; this is similar to the mechanism that causes neon lights to glow. It is caused by a dramatic difference in charge between the air and a charged object, like the mast of a ship, the tip of an airplane wing or the 30-foot steeple of a church -- things we often think of as potential lightning rods.





In 1751, Benjamin Franklin hypothesized that a pointed iron rod would light up at the tip during a lightning storm, similar in appearance to St. Elmo's fire.  All through the history of seafare, it was associated with a divine good omen.  It was finally created in the Physics lab in 1899 by Nikola Testa while testing out a Tesla coil at his laboratory in Colorado Springs, USA. St. Elmo's fire was seen around the coil and was said to have lit up the wings of butterflies with blue halos as they flew around.

Dr Lindsay, one of the researchers, explained to the BBC: "The initial stages of the electrical discharge that produce this 'plasmoid' have many similarities to lightning. They're just electric arcs - in this case, electric arcs to the surface of this solution of electrolytes. And then what happens is this plasmoid emerges from it."
Probably it was this phenomena that pin pointed the house where Mary and Child Jesus lived.

An Angel as Star

St. John Chrysostom suggested that the star was in fact an Angel of the Lord who took the form of the star for the sake of the Oriental stargazers who were interested in astronomy and astrology. Saint John stressed the superior knowledge of the ancient Jews who, having learned monotheism from God, were able to have apparitions of angels, whereas the Oriental sages who hadn’t been instructed by the light of true worship of God, were led to Christ by a star.

Muslims believe that God created angels from light. The Hadith, a traditional collection of information about the prophet Muhammad, declares: “The angels were created from light …”


The Book of the Bee explains it thus:
(The Book of the Bee is an historical theological compilation containing numerous Biblical legends. It was written by Solomon of Akhlat, a Syrian Nestorian Bishop of Bassora (Basrah) around 1222. It is written in Syriac.)

As touching the nature of that star, whether it was a star in its nature, or in appearance only, it is right to know that it was not of the other stars, but a secret power which appeared like a star; for all the other stars that are in the firmament, and the sun and moon, perform their course from east to west. This one, however, made its course from north to south, for Palestine lies thus, over against Persia. This star was not seen by them at night only, but also during the day, and at noon; and it was seen at the time when the sun is particularly strong, because it was not one of the stars. Now the moon is stronger in its light than all the stars, but it is immediately quenched and its light dissipated by one small ray of the sun. But this star overcame even the beams of the sun by the intensity of its light. Sometimes it appeared, and sometimes it was hidden entirely. It guided the Magi as far as Palestine. . . . . . This was not an ordinary movement of the stars, but a rational power. Moreover, it had no fixed path. It did not remain always in the height of heaven, but sometimes it came down, and sometimes it mounted up. Book of the Bee (chapter xxxviii).

Is There a Gospel in the Stars?

The Virgo - the Virgin
The Hebrew name for the sign is "Bethulah"

The constellation Coma was connected with Virgo. Its original Hebrew name was Kamah or Comah meaning “the Desired, or Longed for.” The word is used in Psalm 63:1 where David said to God that “My soul longs for You.” The word is also associated with chemdah or “desire” which is used in Haggai 2:7 to speak of Messiah saying that “The Desire of all nations will come.” This interpretation is backed up by the Zodiac in the Egyptian Temple at Denderah where there is the figure of a woman and child representing Coma, but the Egyptian name for it was “Shes-nu” or “The Desired Son”.

Albumazar (or Abu Masher 787-885 AD) an Arabian astronomer to the Caliphs of Grenada about 850 AD said: “There arises in the first Decan [of Virgo], as the Persians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians … teach, a young woman, whose Persian name denotes a pure virgin sitting on a throne, nourishing an infant boy (the boy, I say) having a Hebrew name, by some nations called IHESU, with the signification IEZA, which in Greek is called CHRISTOS.” A Latin translation of Albumazer’s writings is in the Library of the British Museum. Thus there can be no doubt about Albumazer’s understanding of the star story. This is all the more interesting since he was a Muslim.


The most probable natural astrological interpretation is the combination of planetary and solar and lunar motion in the background of the constellation.  Here is an interesting series of events that fits.  Jupiter is considered the royal star. In 3 B.C., Jupiter came into conjunction with Regulus, the Regal star of kingship, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo- the constellation of Lion representing the Davidic Lineage - the Lineage of the Lion of Judah. This was the first of several such conjunctions over the next year. “The royal planet approached the royal star in the royal constellation representing Israel.”(1) In addition, on September 11, 3 B.C., Jupiter was not only very close to Regulus, but the sun was in the constellation Virgo - the Virgin. This occured in September 11, 3 B.C., which is also the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  

I suppose something like this simply explains the magi understanding.

Unless we have the exact year of birth of Jesus we have little chance of identifying what the magi saw.

Since the Bible does not identify or explain the star, we cannot be certain what it was or how they interpreted it.  But the message was clear and specific.






gives these explanation for Nativity

Certain Star Constellations Foretold the Events of the Nativity, and the Events of the Crucifixtion of Yeshua/Jesus

The LORD strategically caused the Jewish Lunar High Sabbaths to purposefully align with the 7thDay Solar Year Sabbaths; when His Appointed Time for the Nativity of Yeshua/Jesus had arrived and must take place. The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Yeshua/Jesus took place when the Lunar and Solar years were identically aligned with the Exodus Lunar and Solar years. The End-of-the-Age events will occur when the LORD strategically aligns the Lunar and Solar years and High Sabbaths for that purpose.

Here are the Nativity Constellations

Ophiuchus (ō-fē-yū΄-kŭs) is a 13th Constellation that was not included in the Zodiac by the Babylonians. In 6BCE, the sun passed through Ophiuchus during the Festival of Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles). Jesus was born on, September 28 & Tishri 15, in 6BCE, which was the 1stDay and High Sabbath of Sukkoth and also a 7thDay Sabbath. Jesus was circumcised during the morning of Shemini Atzeret (the 8thDay), after three "Wandering Stars" (Jupiter, Saturn & Mars) had led the Wise Men to the Babe during the night. This was also a Lunar and Solar Sabbath.

Regarding the Nativity of Yeshua/Jesus: Six Jewish Festivals predetermined
September 28th & Tishri 15, in 6BCE, as the date for the Messiah's Birth to occur.
See Forty-Two Months, chapters 11 & 12.

Revelation 12:1-5 depicts TWO SIGNS in the autumnal constellations that heralded the Nativity of the Messiah.


 A Great Sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars, see Revelation. 12:1 NKJV.

The "Great Sign of the Woman" included Virgo, Libra, Ophiuchus and Scorpio.

The Virgin was clothed with the "Sun" during Elul 6-Tishri 6.

The Balance under her feet is the "Full Moon" of Tishri 15.

The 12 stars of Ophiuchus is the "Garland" on the Virgin's head.

The Scorpion is the "seed of the Serpent" that bruised the Infant's heel, see Genesis 3:15.

Another sign appeared in heaven: a great fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads, see Revelation 12:3, NKJV.

The Second Sign is the original Serpent of Old (i.e., Satan the Adversary) being restrained in Ophiuchus. The Serpent will be released during the Tribulation (i.e. Daniel's 70thWeek) to wreak havoc on the earth.

The Serpent is not accorded a constellation of its own.

The Infant (the Messiah) is restraining the Serpent in Ophiuchus.

The genus ophiophagus is the King Cobra, the deadliest of the Middle Eastern snakes.

Revelation 12:3-5 confirms the Constellation of Ophiuchus encompasses the Serpent's sign.


GOD said; Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven....and let them be for Signs. (Paraphrased from Genesis 1:14, JPS 1955).


GOD placed the Constellations (NOT the Zodiac) to depicte the "Signs of the Coming of the Messiah." Satan has distorted their meanings through his diabolic teachings of the Zodiac.

The Jewish Festivals revealed the predestined alignment of Sabbaths during which the Messiah would fulfill the following Constellatory Signs.


Satan's versions of the signs depicted by the Constellations are portrayed in the pagan Astrological Zodiac. NOTE: The placement of the Jewish Lunar Months on this Website are not necessarily in the exact position or sequential order of the Gregorian Calendar.




The Constellatory Signs for the arrival of the Messiah, in sequence were:

1. Mary the Virgin (Virgo). She was ready to give birth.

2. The Balance (Libra). The New Moon of Tishri aligned the Full Moon of the Lunar High Sabbath of Sukkoth (Tabernacles) with the Regular 7thDay Solar Sabbath, which provided the  "Balance" between the Solar and Lunar year.

3. The Scorpion's Sting of Death (Scorpio). The Messiah's heel rested on the head of the

Scorpion. The Sting of Death would bruise the heel of the Messiah at the Crucifixion.

4. The Serpent was restrained (Ophiuchus). The Messiah would crush the head of the  Serpent at His Resurrection.




The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi by Michael R. Molnar


Bronze Trichalkon from Antioch depicting Aries looking back at a heavenly star.
(From the T. Cartwright collection) 

This coin was minted in 6 AD in Antioch which was one of the centers of early Christianity. Ancient writings show that Judea was represented by the Ram Aries in the zodiac and particular positions of the other heavenly bodies represented regal divinity. 

Superposed on the photograph of the coin is what I found: Jupiter underwent two occultations ("eclipses") by the Moon in Aries in 6 BC. Jupiter was the regal "star" that conferred kingships - a power that was amplified when Jupiter was in close conjunctions with the Moon. The second occultation on April 17 coincided precisely when Jupiter was "in the east," a condition mentioned twice in the biblical account about the Star of Bethlehem. In August of that year Jupiter became stationary and then "went before" through Aries where it became stationary again on December 19, 6 BC. This is when the regal planet "stood over." - a secondary royal portent also described in the Bible. In particular, there is confirmation from a Roman astrologer that the conditions of April 17, 6 BC were believed to herald the birth of a divine, immortal, and omnipotent person born under the sign of the Jews, which we now know was Aries the Ram. Furthermore, the coins of Antioch and ancient astrological documents show that there was indeed a Star of Bethlehem as reported in the biblical account of Matthew.


According to the astrology of the Persians, what occurred on April 17, 6 BC was the most “Regal” or “Divine” set of signs possible. Only the Magi would have recognized this unique arrangement.1.Saturn, Jupiter and the Sun are all in Aries2.Moon begins its pass in front of Jupiterand completes the pass by the mid-heaven.3.Saturn and Jupiter are “spear-bearers” (rise before) forthe Sun.4.Mars and Mercury are “attendants” (rise behind) for the Moon5.Venus is in Pisces.


Figure 4is a still image of that sunrise on April 17, 6 BC.The animation of the entire time from sunrise to mid-heaven is very impressive and shows the occultation of Jupiter by the crescent moon(which is only 2% visible). The most obvious concern about this alignment is that most of it couldn’t be seen duringthe brightness of the day. However, Dr. Molnar went to great lengths to show that the Magi tracked the planets mathematically and were not dependent on visual verification.


April 17, 6 BC is according to Dr.Molnar is the date of birth of Jesus.



Image from the Stellarium software showing the alignment of the heavenly bodiesjust after sunrise on April 17, 6 BC


Modern computer programing helps us to trace back and look into various possible instances.  I give a few just for those who are interested.  I cannot really pin point final solutions essentially because of the uncertainty in the year of birth of Jesus. I am all for the date of birth as Dec 25 which I have shown elsewhere can be derived from the scriptural events and from the traditions.

Here is another possibility.  One such assumption will be when the King Planet Jupiter (a King is here) is united with the planet for the mother goddess of Venus (Virgin Mother) in the constellation of Leo (the Lion of Judah the Kingly tribe of David and identifies Jewish nation.Genesis 49:9 or Hosea 5:13), astrologers from East knew that they should travel to Jerusalem.



 Astronomy computer programs show that Jupiter and Venus met for the first time on August 12, 3 B.C. Next, Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus, another king star, on September 14. After this, Jupiter continued past Regulus, but stopped – and “stood over where the young Child was,” writes Matthew (2:9) – after which it went back and passed Regulus again on February 17, 2 B.C., and finally a third time on May 8m 2 B.C.
A very remarkable bow-shaped movement!


This image by Charles H. Coles from the cover of "The Sky" in December 1937 depicts the triangle pattern of the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars as it could have appeared on Feb. 6, B.C. Some astronomers have speculated that this pattern may have been the famed Star of Bethlehem. The skyline of New York, including the R.C.A. (now called the G.E.) Building and the Empire State Building was part of the Hayden Planetarium's man-made sky.


Here is an interesting interpretation from

At the time of the birth of Christ, Sirius, the Star in the East, was on the meridian line, Orion, called "The Three Kings" by oriental astronomers, was in proximity; therefore the constellation Virgo, the Virgin, was rising in the east, and the line of the ecliptic, of the equator and of the horizon all met in that constellation. It is interesting also to note that the brightest and largest star in the constellation Virgo is called Spica; it is to be found in the "ear of corn" (sign of fertility) which the Virgin holds. Bethlehem means the "house of bread," and there is therefore an obvious connection between these two words. This constellation is also composed of three stars in the shape of a cup. This is the true Holy Grail, that which contains the life blood, the repository of the sacred and the holy, and that which conceals divinity. These are astronomical facts. The interpretation of the symbolism attached from ancient days to these constellations is as old as religion itself. Whence came the signs, and how the meanings and symbols associated with them came into being, is lost in the night of time. They have existed in men's minds and thoughts and writings for thousands of years, and are our joint heritage today. The ancient zodiac of Dendera (antedating Christianity by several thousand years) is ample proof of this. In the sun's journey around the zodiac, this "Man of the Heavens" eventually arrives at Pisces; this sign is exactly opposite the sign Virgo, and is the sign of all world Saviours. We have already seen that the age of Christianity is the Piscean Age, and Christ came to the Holy Land when our sun transitted into that sign. Therefore that which was started and had its being in Virgo (the birth of the Christ Child) is consummated in Pisces when that Christ Child, having attained maturity, comes forth as the world Saviour.

One other astronomical fact is of interest in this connection. Closely associated with the constellation Virgo, and to be found in the same section of the Heavens, are three other constellations, and in these three there is portrayed for us symbolically the story of the Child which shall be born, suffer and die and come again. There is the group of stars called Coma Berenice, the Woman with the Child. There is Centaurus, the Centaur, and Boötes, whose name in the Hebrew language means the "Coming One." First, the child born of the woman and that woman a virgin; then the centaur, ever the symbol of humanity in the ancient mythologies, for man is an animal, plus a god, and therefore a human being. Then He Who shall come looms over them all, overshadowing them, pointing to the fulfilment which shall come through birth and human incarnation. Truly the picture book of the heavens holds eternal truth for those who have eyes to see and the intuition developed rightly to interpret. Prophecy is not confined to the Bible but has ever been held before men's eyes in the vault of heaven.

Thus as "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handiwork," we have the prophecy of that world event which took place when Christ was born in Bethlehem, the "house of bread," and Virgo rose above the horizon, whilst the Star in the East shone forth.

Christ came, then, to His Own flesh and blood because the world of men drew Him and the love of the Father impelled Him. He came to give to life a purpose and fulfilment, and to indicate to us the Way: He came to give us an example, so that we could be galvanised by the hope that "maketh not ashamed" to "press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling."








The East
The phrase from the east is the only information Matthew provides about the region from which they came. The reason for a general term East instead of a specific country or countries indicates that they came from several countries in a widespread area from the general east direction.

Using a three leaf geographical model, the magi came from Asia petal as shown in the figure below. The direction of the East has long scriptural conotations. Most Christian Churches face towards the East from where Christ will come for his bride to be taken home.  




In the ancient OT map with Jerusalem as the center, Shem occupied the Orient which is the East, from where the magi came.

The earliest writers thus understood the magi to come from one region (usually identified as Persia). But in the eighth century, the Anglo-Saxon historian and theologian Venerable Bede recorded a later tradition that the three magi signified the three parts of the world—Africa, Asia and Europe—and that they thus might be linked with the sons of Noah - Shem, Ham and Japheth - who fathered the three races of Earth (Genesis 10).



Our modern map with OT overlap will look like this.

Traditionally the view developed that they were Babylonian or Persians or Jews from Yemen as the Makrebs or kings of Yemen then were Jews, a view held for example by John Chrysostom. The majority belief was they were from Babylon, which was the centre of Zurvanism (early Zorastrianism), and hence astrology, at the time; and may have retained knowledge from the time of their Jewish leadership by Daniel.

Jeremiah 39:3  Magi of Babylonia

The following is a description during the captivity of Judah to Babylon.
Jeremiah 39:3, 13 is the earliest of ancient records mentioning magi.where Nergal-sharezer is identified as Rabmag, the head of the wisemen in around 586 BC.  Thus we can see that these wisemen were traditional advisers to the kings. The magi were physicians, priests, and learned men, they were probably magicians and socerers wielding spiritual forces to work for them.  They ofter formed the priests and said to include Haman of the book of Esther and Barjesus or Elymas of Acts 13).  In modern terms they were prophets, priests and kingmakers.

But the captivity produced another magi, this time from among the Judaens in Daniel whom they renamed as Balthazar.

Daniel 2:48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. (Rab-mag)

Daniel was promoted to this position because of his faithfulness in telling Nebuchadnezzar the content of his dream and the interpretation. See Daniel 2:1-45. Daniel served in that position for two generations of kings.


He interpreted the dreams of the Neb:


1. Daniel 4:9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.

Neb’s wife the queen recomends his advise to her son the new King when the miraculous handwriting appeared on the wall:

2. Daniel 5:10, 11 Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:

“There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers”

Daniel’s influence over this group can be seen hundreds of years later at the birth of Christ. At least one the magi came from Babylon.  How did they know about the coming of mesiah unless it was through the teachings handed down by Daniel.


1). Matthew 2:1, 2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.


Who were the Magi, Chuck Missler:


Magi were Zorastrian Priests.

“The ancient Magi were a hereditary priesthood of the Medes …credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. After some Magi, who had been attached to the Median court, proved to be expert in the interpretation of dreams, Darius the Great established them over the state religion of Persia…It was in this dual capacity, whereby civil and political counsel was invested with religious authority, that the Magi became the supreme priestly caste of the Persian empire and continued to be prominent during the subsequent Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian periods. One of the titles given to Daniel was Rab-mag, the Chief of the Magi (Daniel 4:9; 5:11). His unusual career included being a principal administrator in two world empires, the Babylonian and the subsequent Persian Empire. When Darius appointed him, a Jew, over the previously hereditary Median priesthood, the resulting repercussions led to the plots involving the ordeal of the lions den, (Daniel 6).


Daniel apparently entrusted a Messianic vision (to be announced in due time by a “star”) to a secret sect of the Magi for its eventual fulfillment. It was at this time (the time of Christ), that the Magi, in their dual priestly and governmental office, composed the upper house of the Council of the Megistanes (from which we get the term “magistrates”), whose duties included the absolute choice and selection of the king of the realm. It was, therefore a group of Persian-Parthian “king-makers” who entered Jerusalem in the latter days of Herod. Herod’s reaction was understandably one of fear when one considers the background of Roman-Parthian rivalry that prevailed during his lifetime…In Jerusalem, the sudden appearance of the Magi, probably traveling in force with all imaginable oriental pomp and accompanied by an adequate cavalry escort to insure their safe penetration of Roman territory, certainly alarmed Herod and the populace of Jerusalem.

In about 586 BC the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and took the Jews into Exile. From the time of the Exile onwards Babylon contained a strong Jewish colony, and the knowledge of the Jewish prophecies of a Saviour-King, the Messiah, may have been well-known to the Babylonians and to the Magi. With Reb-Mag Daniel it must have taken firm root.Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians, became a believer in the Hebrew God. (See Dan. 4:34-37.)   It is possible that Daniel taught Hebrew scriptures and messianic prophecies to the other sages, especially to those who were Jewish. A Jewish legend even claims that Daniel founded an order of magi and instructed them to watch for the Messiah through the generations.

In 539 BC, Babylon was conquered by the Persians and became part of the Persian Empire, and the Babylonian, or Chaldean, magi became Persian magi. Most of the ancient cultures of India, China and the Mediteranian form the Orient.  From history and traditions of the various cultures we have the following magi traditions who came to worship the Son of God in Judea.

1. Magi were the Priests of Persian Zorastrians
2, Magi were the Kings of Yemen - of Sheba.
3. Magi were the “Brahmins” from India
4, Magi were the elders of Israel in Dispersion being King Makers
5. Magi were Chinese Wise men of Sethian Wisdom

Pomponius' world map, made in 43 AD


Modern Map

We will deal with their traditions and stories as handed down to us later.


Finally, where did these wise men come from? As explained in Francis W. Upham's book, The Wise Men (1869), there are two Greek expressions for "East" used in Matthew 2:1-2, 9.

"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."

 "The East" is ton anatolon, the common Greek expression for "eastern regions," particularly those far distant. The wisemen from the east thus could not mean anything other than “from the easter region with reference to Jerusalem

verses 2 and 9:

"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." . . . When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.

These are talking about the star which they have seen rising from the east while they were in the east.  The same star again appeared while they were in Jerusalem to lead them to Jesus.

It certainly implies that the magi came from  several countries designated as “East” or “from the Orient”.  If it was just one country, it would have been easier to designate it by its name.  So our assumption will be that there must have been several countries involved. In the three petal geography it would have been from Asia as given in the map



A look at the map of the world as seen in the first century AD we may take these following as lying in the East of Jerusalem. Viz., Sheba, Persia, Parthia, India and China.  Now look at the modern map.  Everything on the rightside can be considered as East.

The prophecies of Isaiah 60 stated that “A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.”

Midian, Ephah and Sheba are all located in the Arabian peninsula so the Arabian origin of the Magi was foreseen by the prophet. 


Trinity in the Magi Story

The story of Magi numbering three also thought to be a representation of the Trinity.  Each brought an offering befitting one of the Trinity.  Later art also reflects this aspect.



This 15th-century Nativity scene includes the Trinity: God the Father appears at top, surrounded by a host of cherubim; the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descends on golden rays; and the Son is cradled in the wings of angels. Early Christian writers noted that the magi were the first witnesses to the Trinity. Their affiliation with the Trinity, suggests author Robin Jensen, might explain why they are almost always depicted as three. This illumination appears in the prayerbook Les Très Riches Heures, produced by the Limbourg Brothers for the French Duke of Berry. It is now in the Musée Condé, in Chantilly, France. Photo: Giraudon/Art Resource, NY.



The Nativity with God the Father and the Holy Ghost by Giovanni Battista Pittoni





Zorastrianism was one of the earliest monotheistic religion of the world. As we have seen like the Levites the Magi tribe was the Priests of the Zorastrianism.  Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, Zarathushtra Spitama or Ashu Zarathushtra Founder of Zoroastrianism lived between 1500 BC – 1000 BC,in Airyanem Vaejah (present-day Iranian Plateau) and died aged 77

Like Judaism Zoroastrianism is a strict monotheirstic religion, which is the original religion of Persia or what is now Iran, is rich with prophecies concerning the coming of the savior - the Saoshyant.
The Magavan (Old Persian: "Great Ones") were an order of Shamans among the Medes ("Meeds" or the ancient Armenians). They were Shamans. They were interpreters of dreams. They made "prophecies". They were astrologers of a sort. They interpreted the movement of the "fixed stars" (planets) and the Sun and the Moon in the various "houses" of the Zodiac. When the kingdom of the Medes accepted the Good Religion, so did the Magavan. The Greeks called the Magavan the "Magi" (ma'zhai or ma'jai). A single Magavan was called a "Magus" (magoos) in Greek. In the plural they were known collectively (in Greek) as the "Magi" (ma'jai or ma'zhai). The kings and emperors of the Armenians, Medes, Persians, Bactrians, and others, used the Magi as advisors. They were never "kings" in Persian culture. They were the "counselors" to kings’.  There is some evidence to suggest that the Magi were Hermaphrodites (eunuchs).

Daniel was made the "Rab Mag" (chief Magus) of the Babylonian Empire. He must have handed down several prophecies concerning the coming of the Savior.  It is even told that he left behind the gold, Frankincense and myrrh which the magi took with them as gifts.

Nestorian Christians often taught that Jesus was foretold by Zoroaster and the story of the Magi coming to visit Jesus is told as part of their traditions, along with a supposed prophesy of Zoroaster. The Book of the Bee was written in the 13th Century and appears to have embellished the original story of the prophesy of Zoroaster. (See Chapter XXXVII - The Prophecy of Zârâdôsht Concerning Our Lord, The Book of the Bee).



Here is how Zorastor presented the Saoshyant.


'Hear, my beloved children, for I will reveal to you a mystery concerning the great King who is about to rise upon the world.


At the end of time, and at the final dissolution, a child shall be conceived in the womb of a virgin, and shall be formed in her members, without any man approaching her. And he shall be like a tree with beautiful foliage and laden with fruit, standing in a parched land; and the inhabitants of that land shall be gathered together to uproot it from the earth, but shall not be able. Then they will take him and crucify him upon a tree, and heaven and earth shall sit in mourning for his sake; and all the families of the nations shall be in grief for him. He will begin to go down to the depths of the earth, and from the depth he will be exalted to the height; then he will come with the armies of light, and be borne aloft upon white clouds; for he is a child conceived by the Word which establishes natures.'


Gûshnâsâph says to him, 'Whence has this one, of whom thou sayest these things, his power? Is he greater than thou, or art thou greater than he?' Zârâdôsht says to him, 'He shall descend from my family; I am he, and he is I; he is in me, and I am in him. When the beginning of his coming appears, mighty signs will be seen in heaven, and his light shall surpass that of the sun. But ye, sons of the seed of life, who have come forth from the treasuries of life and light and spirit, and have been sown in the land of fire and water, for you it is meet to watch and take heed to these things which I have spoken to you, that ye await his coming; for you will be the first to perceive the coming of that great king, whom the prisoners await to be set free. Now, my sons, guard this secret which I have revealed to you, and let it be kept in the treasure-houses of your souls. And when that star rises of which I have spoken, let ambassadors bearing offerings be sent by you, and let them offer worship to him. Watch, and take heed, and despise him not, that he destroy you not with the sword; for he is the king of kings, and all kings receive their crowns from him. He and I are one.' These are the things which were spoken by this second Balaam, and God, according to His custom, compelled him to interpret these things; or he sprang from a people who were acquainted with the prophecies concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, and declared them aforetime.


“He shall be the victorious Benefactor (Saoshyant) by name and World-renovator [Astavat-ereta] by name. He is Benefactor because he will benefit the entire physical world; he is World- renovator because he will establish the physical living existence indestructible. (immortality or victory over death) He will oppose the evil of the progeny of the biped and withstand the enmity produced by the faithful.'
 - Zoroastrianism- Avesta, Farvardin Yast 13.129

'And then when retribution shall come for their offenses, Then, O Wise One, Then Kingdom shall be established by good thought (Kingdom of God based on freewill). For those who in fullfillment, deliver evil into the hands of Truth! And then may we be those who make life renovated, O Lord, Immortals of the Wise One, And O Truth bring your alliance. That to us your minds may gather where wisdom would be in dispute! Then indeed shall occur the collapse of the growth of evil. Then they shall join the promised reward: Blessed abode of Good Thought, Of the Wise One, and of Right, they who earn in good reputation.'
- Avesta, Yasna 30.8-10


When will this be?

"Righteousness is so worthy and great and valuable, that in one place it is revealed that Zarathushtra asked God: 'How much time remains until the time of the making all things new and perfect, ... and the Future Body?' God said: '3,000 years'. Zarathushtra was afraid and said: 'A long time remains!' God said: 'Then do not let this time seem long to you'
" - Based on Pahlavi Rivayat, ch 25. based on tr. of A.V. Williams, 1990

Then he also gave the sign of the star.









They were described as a priestly class, but their main task appears to have been the interpretation of the king’s dreams. In this respect they were like similar “wise men” kept at the courts of various Near Eastern monarchs. Daniel was the head of the Magi (/Rab Magi) of all Babylon in his time.(Daniel 2:48). The word is defined in Dan 5:11 King Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Daniel as “chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and diviners.” It is probable that they inherited other teachings of Daniel to exactly date the coming of the Savior.  Daniel’s prophecy pin points these datings.  So we should not be surprised that they were ready to come and worship him.


In his work Every Good Man Is Free, Philo of Alexandria says:

”And in the land of the barbarians, in which the same men are authorities both as to words and actions, very numerous companies of virtuous and honorable men are celebrated. Among the Persians there is the body of the Magi, who, investigating the works of nature for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the truth, do at their leisure become initiated themselves and initiate others in the divine virtues by very clear explanations.”


The Infancy Gospel of the Savior, Circa 300-600 AD (

The Magi and Zarathustra are also mentioned in the non-canonical Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of The Savior ( where in section 7 of this early gospel it reads:


“And it came to pass, when the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem of Judea, in the time of King Herod, behold, magi came from the east to Jerusalem, as Zeraduscht (Zoroaster) had predicted; and there were with them gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And they adored Him, and presented to Him their gifts. Then the Lady Mary took one of the swaddling-bands, and, on account of the smallness of her means, gave it to them; and they received it from her with the greatest marks of honor."


German writer Manfred Barthel,explains how when the Persians invaded Jerusalem in AD 614 they spared the Church of the Nativity in Jerusalem, because the church had a fresco of the Three Kings dressed in Persian dress.


A sixth-century Syrian source, cited by Zoroastrian scholar Dariush Jahanian, names the Three Kings as :

"Hormizdah king of Persia, Yazdegerd King of Saba, and Perozadh King of Sheba,"

“Ethiopian church knew them as:

Hor, king of Persia; Basanater, king of Saba; and Karsudan, king of the east; and the Western church knew them as Gaspar, Melchior and Balthassar.


Priests of Zarathustra (Zoroaster) were indeed known as the Magi. The Bible gives us the direction, East and the legend states that the wise men were from Persia (Iran) - Balthasar, Melchior, Caspar - thus being priests of Zarathustra religion, the magi. They are thought to have been followers of Zoroaster (Persian teacher and prophet) and they professed the doctrines of Zoroastrianism much the same as those of the Jews. Encarta Concise Encyclopedia - Religion & Philosophy.


If they were Persians alone and they were only three, why did they take two years to reach Jerusalem. This would suggest additional magi from distance places.

Some of them may have been indeed the Zorastrians.







Marco Polo (1254-1324) travelled with his father and uncle to China in 1271, and spent the next twenty years travelling around the Mongol Empire in the service of the ruler, the Kublai Khan. After returning home to Venice in 1295, Marco became a prisoner of war at Genoa. In prison he met a writer of romances, Rustichello of Pisa, who helped Polo produce The Travels. The book’s prologue claims that its author had travelled more extensively than any man since the Creation


Tiles above entrance to Geroge Church in Isfahan

Christ and the Persian magi 
Marco Polo on Persia's "Christian" fire worshippers

December 22, 1997
The Iranian

From Chapter XI (Of the province of Persia) of Marco Polo's "The Travels; The Description of the world" written in 1298. This translation is by William Marsden, revised by Thomas Wright (Konemann Travel Classics, Koln, Germany, 1996).

Persia was anciently a large and noble province, but it is now in great part destroyed by the Tartars. In Persia there is a city which is called Saba, from whence were the three magi who came to adore Christ in Bethlehem; and the three are buried in that city in a fair sepulchre, and they are all three entire with their beards and hair. One was called Baldasar, the second Gaspar, and the third Melchior.

Marco inquired often in that city concerning the three magi, and nobody could tell him anything about them, except that the three magi were buried there in ancient times. After three days' journey you come to a castle which is called Palasata, which means the castle of the fire-worshippers, and it is true that the inhabitants of that castle worship fire, and this is given as the reason.

The men of that castle say, that anciently three kings of that country went to adore a certain king who was newly born, and carried with them three offerings, namely, gold, frankincense, and myrth: gold, that they might know if he were an earthly king; frankincense, that they might know if he were God; and myrth, that they might now if he were a mortal man.

When these magi were presented to Christ, the youngest of the three adored him first, and it appeared to him that Christ was of his stature and age. The middle one came next, and then the eldest, and to each he seemed to be of their own stature and age. Having compared their observations together, they agreed to go all to worship at once, and then he appeared to them all of his true age.

When they went away, the infant gave them a closed box, which they carried with them for several days, and then becoming curious to see what he had given them, they opened the box and found in it a stone, which was intended for a sign that they should remain firm as a stone in the faith they had received from him.

When, however, they saw the stone, they marvelled, and thinking themselves deluded, they threw the stone into a certain pit, and instantly fire burst forth in the pit. When they saw this, they repented bitterly of what they had done, and taking some of the fire with them they carried it home.

And having placed it in one of their churches, they keep it continually burning, and adore that fire as a god, and make all their sacrifices with it; and if it happen to be extinguished, they go for more to the original fire in the pit where they threw the stone, which is never extinguished, and they take of none other fire. And, therefore, the people of the country worship fire.

Marco was told all this by the people of the country; and it is true that one of those kings was of Saba; and the second was Dyava, and the third was of the castle.



According to Assyrian writers, the magi from Iran were priest of the zorastrian temple.

The story says that upon their return from Jerusalem, the Magi turned their temple into a worshipping place for infant Jesus. They spent the remainder of their lives spreading the gospel of the incarnation of the savior. Apparently there was an old gravestone that told the story of Magi from this temple witnessing the Christmas Star and traveling to Jerusalem to meet the Messiah.



The three Persian Magi



Apostle Thomas visited in AD 47 according to the traditions of the Eastern Church along with

Addai (Thaddaeus) and his disciples Aggagi and Mari. They establised the first church there which is Iraq’s Eastern Aramaic speaking Assyrian Christian Chruch. These communities are believed to be among the oldest in the world.


The Assyrian people adopted Christianity in the 1st century AD and Assyria became the center of Eastern Rite Christianity and Syriac literature from the 1st century AD until the Middle Ages. It remained Christian until the 14th  century. At its peak by the end of the 13th century there were twelve Nestorian dioceses in a strip from Peking to Samarkand.


According to traditions “Acts of Mar Mari”,(written in about the 8th century AD in Babylonia.) Mari, was active in the conversion of client kings in the marches between Rome and Parthia, and he eventually established an episcopal see at the Twin Cities (al-Mada’in) of Seleucia-Ctesiphon on the Tigris.

Seleucia, the ruins of which are at Tell Omar near Salman Pak southeast of modern Baghdad, remained one of the chief cities of the Parthian Empire and later became the winter capital of the Sasanian Empire.




Naneh Maryam Church

Church of East Assyria or St. Mary Church built in the year 32 Urmia, Iran.

This was originally a Fire Temple of the three Zorastrian Priests - magi who visited baby Jesus The story was written on their grave stone, which is now in the museum of Kiev

After coming back they converted the fire temple to a church. A Chinese princess, who contributed to its reconstruction in 642 AD, has her name engraved on a stone on the church wall. The famous Italian traveller Marco Polo also described the church in his visit.

Briefly prior to the World War I, it was converted by the Russians to a Russian Orthodox church. In early 1960s, the old church was restored and a modern church with a spire was built adjacent to the ancient church.
( go to this site for a series of the photographs of this church)





The Old Church



The sign at the entrance of the church


Naneh Maryam church has 9 pews. On the right of the altar, there is a narrow corridor with a traditional oven built in the wall which is said to be where the holy breads were baked. And next to this oven, there is a Baptismal font.


The first Patriarch of the East had attended the chapel as a boy built by the Three Wise Men in the town of Resaieh of Northern Iran. The patriarch of the East found references to the apostolic tradition of the church and of St. Thomas. St.Thomas in accordance with his appointment baptized the magi. The Magi are said to have been buried on the grounds of the church. The gravestone containing this story was removed during Word War I by the Russian forces and is now in a museum in Kiev


After establishing the first Christian church in Babylon, Thomas turned to India and countries all over Asia. This pre-Christian Christian Church, is still in used today in the town of Resaieh, in Northern Iran. (Obedience By Rear Admiral Joseph H. Miller) The other church made by three Indian Magi are still in Piravam in Moovattupuzha, Kerala near Cochin.


Naneh Maryam is considered by some accounts to be the first church built in the East and by other accounts to be the second largest church of the old world after the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.


Archeologists say that the arches and pillars of Naneh Maryam Church date back to the Sassanid era (226-651 CE) and that the interior of the church displays a combination of Parthian (247 BC–224 CE) and Sassanid architecture. In accordance with Assyrian values, the interior of the church lacks ornate decorations or embellishments in the form of wall paintings or stucco reliefs. The church has 9 pews, 9 confessionals and a low door above that opens to a large courtyard. Above this door is a sign that tells visitors to remove their shoes as they are entering sacred ground. The floor is covered with rugs.


Over the years the appearance of this church has significantly changed due to several renovations. According to Assyrian accounts, a Chinese princess who resided in the church on returning from her visit to the Archbishop of Nineveh was the first to renovate the church in 642 CE. The Naneh Maryam Church was also renovated in 1963 when additions were made to the structure.


The Infancy Gospel of the Savior, Circa 300-600 AD

The Magi and Zarathustra are also mentioned in the non-canonical Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of The Savior
From: Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol 8
Alexander Roberts, Sir James Donaldson, Arthur Cleveland Coxe - 1886 .

 7. And it came to pass, when the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem of Judaea, in the time of King Herod, behold, magi came from the east to Jerusalem, as Zeraduscht (5) had predicted; and there were with them gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And they adored Him, and presented to Him their gifts. Then the Lady Mary took one of the swaddling-bands, and, on account of the smallness of her means, gave it to them; and they received it from her with the greatest marks of honour. And in the same hour there appeared to them an angel in the form of that star which had before guided them on their journey; and they went away, following the guidance of its light, until they arrived in their own country. (6)


8. And their kings and chief men came together to them, asking what they had seen or done, how they had gone and come back, what they had brought with them. And they showed them that swathing-cloth which the Lady Mary had given them. Wherefore they celebrated a feast, and, according to their custom, lighted a fire and worshipped it, and threw that swathing-cloth into it; and the fire laid hold of it, and enveloped it. And when the fire had gone out, they took out the swathing-cloth exactly as it had been before, just as if the fire had not touched it. Wherefore they began to kiss it, and to put it on their heads and their eyes, saying: This verily is the truth without doubt. Assuredly it is a great thing that the fire was not able to burn or destroy it. Then they took it, and with the greatest honour laid it up among their treasures.





Justin Martyr,identifies magi as from Arabians (Dialogue With Trypho, 77). Clement of Rome refers to Arabia as "the East" and associates the region with frankincense and myrrh (First Clement, 25). So magi are immediately associated with the yemeni area particularly the Sheba and Seba.  However we have no traditions associated with them.  We know that Apostle Thomas did establish the Christian Church in men and there are lots of oral traditions still around when I was working in the University of Yemen. Christianity is believed to have come to this region as early as 70-135 AD among Jews who fled the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. It is most likely that just as the Yemeni Jewish kings and elders destroyed Christianity, it is probable that they also destroyed any traditions concerning Jesus and the Magi.

According to one version of the Kings List, the King at the time Jesus was born was Yadail Darih II, who reigned from 10 BC-10 AD. It is possible that he joined the pilgrimage to meet and pay homage of the new King of the Jews.

A portion of a page from the Venice Haggadah of 1609. Displays the three wives of Abraham and his sons. From the Yale University Library, "The image ... shows Abraham with the three women in his life. In the center are Sarah and Isaac; on the left are Hagar and Ishmael and on the right are Keturah and her children."

Keturah means incense.  Keturah’s children are Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, Shuah and grandsons are

Sheba, Dedan, Ephah, Epher, Enoch, Abida, Eldaah. (Genesis 25:2, 4 1 Chronicles 1:32 -33). Bearing gifts from Abraham, he and his brothers, each with his own household, moved off from Isaac into "the east country" (Gen.25:6).

Midian was the tribe of the father-in-law of Moses (who was a priest and so a magi -wiseman who knew the mysteries of the universe) and closest to Israel in importance and location.

From the meaning of the name Keturah, ‘frankincense’, we may very well assume that she came from the land of incense and her family and hence her children were traders in that commodity. This will give us a direct connection to the source of the magi from the east.






Isaiah speaks of Midian and Ephah apparently as separate tribes, whose dromedaries bear gold and frankincense to Zion (60:6).  All those from Sheba should include Yemen and Parts of Ethiopia.



Six children of Keturah distributed all over this region.
Wise men came from these regions



 The idea of three kings and the presence of camels is linked with two Old Testament prophecies.  Psalm 72:10-11 reads:

"May the kings of Tarshish and the islands bring tribute,
the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
May all kings bow before him,
all nations serve him."

This refers to Tarshish King bringing tribute and , Sheba and Seba.bring gifts

Isaiah 60 is also read in the liturgy on the feast of the Epiphany, and, like Psalm 72, Isaiah highlights the double meaning of the visit of the Wise Men: that the light of Christ has come into the world and is for all people — not only the Jews.  The prophecy reads:

"Arise! Shine, for your light has come,
the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you
. . . Nations shall walk by your light,
kings by the radiance of your dawning
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you —
Your sons from afar
. . . Then you shall see and be radiant
. . . For the riches of the sea shall be poured out before you,
the wealth of nations shall come to you.
Caravans of camels shall cover you,
dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
All from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense
and heralding the praises of the Lord" (vv. 1-6).

Here we have Midian, Ephah, and Sheba

Now we can see where the idea of kings and camels comes from.  Matthew says the kings came from the East, and Persia seems the obvious choice, but the passage from Isaiah predicts that the kings come from Ephah, Midian and Sheba.  Where are Ephah, Midian and Sheba? 

Midian is the Old Testament name for what was, in Jesus' time, the Kingdom of the Nabateans.  It lies directly east and south of Jerusalem — in present-day Jordan — and Ephah was a city of Midian further south in the Arabian peninsula.  The ancient Kingdom of Sheba was centered in what is present-day Yemen, also to the east and south. 

The Nabataean kingdom emerged as a great merchant-trader realm during the first centuries B.C. and A.D. trading essentially in Frankincense and Myrrh which were practically grown only in the Yemeni provinces.  They were initially nomads of the desert regions. However they became experts in the water management and use of local enegies that the desert became a wall which prevented outsiders from even entering the kingdom. Previously nomads in northern Arabia, the Nabataeans had already settled in southern Jordan by 312 B.C. Since Nabataean kingdom was strategically situated at the crossroads of several caravan routes that linked the lands of China, India, and South Arabia with the Mediterranean world they prospered. The fame of the Nabataean kingdom spread as far as Han-dynasty China, where Petra was known as Li-kan.  


If we are looking to the Scriptures for evidence, the prophecy from Isaiah suggests that the Wise Men came from what is now Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  These are the immediate east of Jerusalem. If so, they probably did come on camels, since Midian especially was known for its abundance of camels. 

Who are the magi.  The three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are looked on as clues to solve the riddle.  Where did the gold come from?  As mentioned, Yemen is the present-day location of the ancient civilization of Sheba.  The kingdom's fabulous wealth was based on gold mines in Ethiopia.  Archaeologists have recently discovered what they believe to be the mines of the queen of Sheba.  The Arabian peninsula — especially the area of Midian and Sheba — is the only place in the world where the specific plants grow from which are harvested the resin to make both incense and myrrh.  These two rich gifts — used for their aroma and for medicinal purposes — were the cash crops of the world then known.



The Nabateans were known as exceptionally skilled people, facilitating commerce between China, India, the Far East, Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. They traded such goods as incense, medicines and perfumes. In Genesis (25:13-16) they are described as a group of nomadic Bedouin group, under the leadership of the Khedar tribe, of the tribes of Ismael (Ishmael).

It is said that after the flood, Thoth transcribed the sacred secrets of substances and all the great wisdom onto an Emerald Tablet. Thoth, of the Egyptian pantheon, became known in Greece as Hermes, as Enoch-the seventh from Adam, and in Arabia he was known as Idris. The Emerald Tablet is a text purporting to reveal the secret of the primordial substance and its correspondences. Tradition has it that, in time, the Emerald Tablet was inherited by the Greek philosopher Pythagoras (c.570-500 BC), but it seems that the Nabateans and the Essenes, as well as other cultures, also inherited such tablets.

The Nabateans stones and esoteric symbolism provides an important insight as to how this form of mysticism very similar to Kabbalah was practised, and that the Nabateans were masters or guardians of such knwoledge. Diodorus Siculus also, writing in the first century BC, speaks of a clan among the Nabateans who lived outside mainstream society in the surrounding mountains. They were mystics of the nation. Surprisingly, the Nabateans lived a communal life of sharing, very much similar to those the early Apostles proposed to practice when the Christian Church began.  Their king was addressed as 'brother', and they refused to keep slaves. They were an exceptionally gentle people. Diodorous Siculus tells us of their beliefs:
"They have no poor amongst their kind, they honour the meek and dispossessed, and value mercy, peace and forgivness of transgressions."

This is very remniscent of the Mahabali Christian period of India.


The Nabataeans, whose capital was at Petra, had a trinity of gods associated with the heavens. Some scholars feel that the ancient Nabataean pantheon included: AI-Qaum, the male god of the night (moon), Dushara, the god of the day (sun) and the goddess AI-Uzza (stars). The Nabataean Magi who worshipped AI-Uzza, were dedicated astronomers and looked to the heavens to forecast future events. 

At the time of the birth of Jesus the trade in “Frankincense and Myrrh;” two of the gifts given to the “young child” Jesus, were controlled exclusively by the Nabataeans. Petra, the Nabataean capital, was “East” and south of Bethlehem about 110 miles.

In addition, there was a relationship between Herod and Aretas IV. Herod the Great’s son, Herod Antipas married the daughter of the Nabataean King Aretas IV but was divorced and took his brother’s wife which led to the events leading to the execution of John the Baptist.
It was also consistent with Roman, Jewish, and Nabataean theology that the gods would communicate with man through dreams. The “wise men” were  warned in a dream, “that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way (Matt 2:12). Here the word country is used in the singular. Were they all from Nabatea? In that case Aretas must have sent all the three of his wisemen representing him.   

It may well be assumed that Aretas IV may have been one of the magi who visited Jesus.  The other magi would have been his son Malchus II. The traditional name of Melchior suggest Malchus II as one of magi along with Gundaphoras of Indo Parthia.
Dr. John L. Lund;
Star in the East By Hans Holzer

Aretas IV the King of Nabatea

One of the reported three Wise Men is believed to be Malichus, the son of Aretas IV, whose coins can be collected today.  Malichus II ruled from 40 AD to 75 AD after the death of his father Aretas IV who ruled (9 B.C.-A.D. 40)

Malichus ii,(Melchior) the son of Aretas IV- silver coins

David Hendin, writing in Guide to Biblical Coins, and Kenneth Bressett, in Money of the Bible, both discuss the three potential rulers identified as the Magi.

The traditional names given to the rulers are Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior.

Indo-Greek King Gondophares IV Sasse, who ruled from A.D. 20 to 60, is believed to be Gaspar.

Melchior may actually be Malichus, the son of Nabatean King Aretas IV, (Aretas ruled from 9 B.C. to A.D. 40.)

Balthazar has not been identified. 

 Fr. Longenecker believes that the three wise men, collectively known as the magi in the first Christmas story, were diplomats from the neighboring kingdom of the Nabatea, which was centered at the famous city of Petra. Upon researching on geography, ancient history, archeology, religion, and culture of the Roman Empire at the time of the birth of Christ, Fr. Longenecker establish that the Nabatean king Aretas IV at that time had all the good reasons why he wanted to forge an alliance with King Herod the Great. Hence, when the magi at his court discerned that a new heir to the Judean throne was born, King Aretas IV sent the three wise men to pay homage to King Herod. Gold, Frankincense, and myrrh were diplomatic offerings representative of the the Nabatean Arabian kingdom.









The journey of the wise men (magoi) described in Mathew 2, most likely began in southern Yemen (Hadramaout province)   

Hadraamaut is the area where Fankincense grew.
The incense route


Compare the above with this modern map to see that Oman where frankincense is grown was part of ancient Yemen.

True frankincense is the product of Boswellia sacra, a scrubby deciduous tree that rarely exceeds 20 feet and grows in the arid foothills of Arabia, mainly in present-day Yemen and Oman and in Somalia.

Incisions are made in the trunk of the tree allowing the resin to ooze out. It solidifies on contact with the air and once hardened into tear-shaped lumps can be easily broken off.

Myrrh is gathered in the same way as frankincense but comes from the tree Commiphora myrrha found in Yemen, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, with other varieties occurring more widely across the Middle East and as far east as India.

While incense and myrrh trees were never cultivated as such the wild groves were jealously guarded and the resin harvested on a rotational basis that helped ensure a continuity of supply. The reason why such care was taken over the trees is that the aromatic, religious and medicinal properties of their resin became so popular that demand outstripped supply and prices soared. 


The temple of Queen Hatshepsut,

An early depiction of the incense trade can be seen at Luxor in Egypt, carved on the walls of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, who died in about 1458 BC. Hatshepsut sent an expedition to the Land of Punt – probably present-day Ethiopia or Yemen – to obtain incense and other exotic items such as ebony and ivory.

The temple wall shows Egyptian ships being loaded as they prepared to return home with barrels of incense as well as 31 young incense trees planted in tubs in what was presumably an ill-fated attempt to establish them in Egypt. None is found there today.

 Frankincense was used in religious ceremonies during the time

Historians agree that the ancient kingdom of Saba (in present-day Yemen) was home to some of the finest incense groves. The kingdom acquired huge wealth and influence as a result and the supposed visit paid by the queen to King Solomon in Jerusalem was famous for the extravagance of her entourage and gifts.

Saba later came into conflict with the Romans, who wanted to break the stranglehold the Arabians held over the supply of incense. One of the reasons Mark Antony met Queen Cleopatra of Egypt in great style in 41BC was to discuss trade in such luxury goods as incense.

Although Christians adopted the use of incense in their churches, overall demand for the aromatic resins fell in the centuries that followed. Prices collapsed and the great caravans of ancient times became a distant memory.

Arabia, once rich on the back of the trade, lapsed into oblivion and re- emerged only with the discovery of oil in the 1930s. Remarkably the different species of incense trees were not documented properly until 1844.

Now they face a fate worse than being overlooked. With their commercial value dwindling the trees – some of which may be more than 200 years old – are being felled to make way for crops or for use as firewood.

Saplings are no longer nurtured and are often fed to livestock. In Yemen, the land that once produced tons of incense every year is being cleared and planted with khat, a shrub whose leaves are chewed as a stimulant by an estimated 80 per cent of the male population.

Conservationists fear that the trees that once brought untold riches to Arabia face virtual annihilation. However in neighbouring Oman hope is coming in the form of tourism. The Land of Frankincense Museum in Salalah showcases the history of the trade and it is possible to visit the surviving incense groves and learn how a simple resin from a tree came to dominate the Roman world’s economy – and be laid at the feet of the infant Jesus.

Furthermore, the kings of Yemen during the time of Jesus were Jewish.  They would have had a keen interest in the goings-on in Herod's court and the arrival of a new king of the Jews.  Finally, Jesus himself mentions this link in Matthew 12:42 when he refers to the queen of Sheba's visit to Solomon and, referring to himself, says, "there is something greater than Solomon here."

There are more intriguing clues based on three gifts.  The Arabian peninsula — especially the area of Midian and Sheba — is the only place in the world where the specific plants grow from which are harvested the resin to make both incense and myrrh.  These two rich gifts — used for their aroma and for medicinal purposes — were the cash crops of this part of the world. 

The origin of the three gifts would indicate that the Wise Men came from the Arabian peninsula.  And the gifts were not simply rich gifts offered to Christ, but were symbolic gifts from the kingdoms of their origin. 

The gifts had diplomatic significance and suggest that the Magi were indeed either kings or ambassadors from the court of Nabatea and Sheba.  Even more intriguing, there was constant traffic along the "incense route," which came north from the southern tip of Arabia up to what is now Jordan and across Judea to Gaza.  If the Magi were from southern Arabia and the Kingdom of Nabatea (present-day Jordan), their trade route ran right past Jerusalem and Bethlehem. 

The centers of the Old South Arabian kingdoms of present-day Yemen lay around the desert area called Ramlat al-Sab'atayn, known to medieval Arab geographers as Ṣayhad,  According to Arab tradition, the eldest son of Noah, Shem, founded the city of Ma'rib.The last of the great pre-Islamic kingdoms was that of Himyar, which lasted from about the 1st century BC until the 500s AD (seeHimyarites). At their heights, the Sabaean and Himyarite kingdoms encompassed most of historic Yemen. Because of their prominence and prosperity, the states and societies of ancient Yemen were collectively called Arabia Felix in Latin, meaning "Happy Arabia."

The Ḥimyarite Kingdom  ( 110 BCE–520s CE), in ancient Yemen took as its capital the ancient city of Zafar,and later moved to the city of Sana'a. The kingdom conquered neighbouring Saba' in c. 25 BCE (for the first time).  Jewish brigade sent by King Herod with Aelius Gallus (25 BC.) to south Yemen settled in this country.  Yemen and Oman areas were at the time of Jesus were occupied by Jewish dispersion.  It is sometimes asserted even the Himyarite were Jewish kings. This will explain their interest in the newly born king of the Jews.  Astrology was practiced there, and a tradition of Israelite messianic expectation may have survived in the region since the days of the Queen of Sheba. Who is connected to Solomon’s Israel. Thus a likely theory that the magi came from Arabia Felix (Southern Arabia) is a strong possibility.

Himyarite coin from 1st century BC


Close to the present state of Yemen is the Oman areas (which were part of ancient Yemen) where the frankincense is also found. So historically significant was Oman's frankincense industry during the time of Christ, UNESCO has granted heritage listing to a collection of sites comprising its Land of Frankincense trail: the oasis of Wadi Dawka, crammed with frankincense trees; the ruins of the trading city of Al Baleed at Salalah; and — most impressively, perhaps — the remains of the ancient port of Sumhurum near Mirbat, where those ships from far-off lands would weigh anchor and their merchants eagerly come ashore.  .

a king from Saba (present day Yemen) bearing to the newborn King a large box of Frankincense, precious in that day as gold itself.




In Western Armenian, the names are pronounced Kaspar, Melkon, and Baghdasar.
Armenian Monastery of Saint John the Baptist (“Sourp Garabed Vank”), lie outside the ancient city of Moush which has the document called Gontag” (an official encyclical from a church functionary, from the Greek word Kontakion). According to the Gontag, the Magi went northward from Bethlehem after visiting baby Jesus and Mary, avoiding Jerusalem and arrived on a plain outside the ancient city of Moush. There they set up camp to rest from their weary travels. In the middle of the night, Gaspar, who was apparently the eldest of the Magi, passed away peacefully. Melchior and Balthasar were naturally grieved by the passing of their older friend, and set upon the solemn task of arranging his proper burial.

Local people were commissioned, and Gaspar was buried at the brow of a hill overlooking the plain where they had encamped. The local people then constructed a sepulcher over the burial place. After a respectful period of mourning, Melchior and Balthasar resumed their journey home.

For 300 years, the local people continued to maintain the sepulcher, and passed on the oral tradition that a wise man had seen a great star, traveled to Bethlehem, witnessed the birth of a great king, and had passed away on his return journey.

The tradition of the Magi in Armenia may also have been known to King Abgar of Edessa (Urfa) after several decades during the time the ministry of Jesus, and wrote a letter to Jesus Christ, inviting Him to come to Edessa to heal the him and remain in that city (see Eusebius, History of the Church). After the Resurrection, the Apostle Thaddeus journeyed to Edessa, preached about Christianity, healed Abgar, and baptized him, making Abgar the first known Christian king of Armenia.

Before Gregory the Illuminator returned to Armenia after being consecrated a bishop in Caesarea in Cappadocia, he was entrusted by Bishop Leontius with several venerated relics. As Gregory traveled back to Armenia, he stopped outside of Moush. He ordered that a monastery be constructed there to house the great relic of Saint John the Baptist.  

While Gregory was sojourning in the area, the local people told him about the burial place of the wise man. At that time, the vast majority of people living around Moush were still pagan. They understood that the sepulcher contained the relics of an important person, but they were unaware of the specific connection of Gaspar and the Magi to the theology of Christianity. Gregory immediately journeyed to the place, and recognized the sanctity of the sepulcher. He ordered that a monastery be built around the sepulcher in order to preserve and protect the relics of Gaspar. The monastery was henceforth known as “Sourp Kaspari Vank” or “Kasparavank.”

Every year, on Theophany, when the Christmas Star appeared in the night sky, the priests, monks, and pilgrims would gather at Sourp Kaspari Vank would offer the first Holy Eucharist of the feast-day on the altar-table that was constructed over the sepulcher of Gaspar the Wiseman.

In the West, many believe the relics of the Magi were discovered in the fourth century in Milan, Italy, and were later transferred to Cologne/Koln, Germany. To this day, visitors to Cologne may see the beautiful golden shrine inside the cathedral that, according to Western tradition, preserves the remains of the Magi. For centuries, pilgrims from all over the world have flocked to Cologne at both Christmas and Epiphany to venerate these relics.If the Gontag account is accurate, then it would indicate that the more important relic–the entire body of Gaspar–has been preserved and venerated in Armenia since at least the time of Gregory the Illuminator.  A fragment may have been taken from here.  It is also possible that the three magi of Cologne is not those referred by the Armenian story. It would simply mean that there were other magi groups who came from other countries.





The Ethiopian Version
Author - Robert Farwell

The story of the Magi in Matthew’s Gospel is of course very familiar, but there is much in addition in Ethiopian texts that is curious and interesting. In the Miracles of Jesus for example it is told how the Magi, ‘Les Rois-Mages’, see the star from a mountain far away, and within it an image of the Virgin. Knowing of prophecies, they hasten to their King’s treasury, where they consult a work, the Book of the Commandment of Adam to Seth his Son, saying  

“The Son of God will take flesh and live on earth. A star will appear. Its light will form a column from the heavens to the earth. In that light the Virgin will be seated, holding her Son, a diadem of glory on his head. When the star appears, seek the place where the Child is born.”

The three at once take gifts, originating from an ancient ‘Mountain of Treasures’, and set out.

For two years they travel, and eventually in Jerusalem they are greeted as Kings of Persia, and sent on by Herod. They find the Child, with Mary, and see fulfilment of a prophecy of King David ‘La reine se tiendra à ta droite, vétue et chamarré de vêtements d’or’ (Ps. 45: 9, she who was the King’s daughter, all glorious within; her clothing of wrought gold). They offer the Child gold for kingship, incense for divinity, and myrrh for a saving death in the flesh, and leave for their own country.

The story of the ‘Mountain of Treasures’ is in the Book of Adam and Eve, which gives a long account of the life they lead on a mountain near the Garden of Eden, after the Fall. Their shelter is a cave, subsequently known as the Cave of Treasures, where they are constantly assailed by Satan in one guise or another. They are however comforted by shining rods of gold, brought from India and given them by God for light in the hours of darkness, and by frankincense and myrrh brought for them from Eden by an angel at his command. In time, they have a numerous progeny with them, sprung from their third son Seth and a twin sister born with Abel. Below the mountain live Cain and his descendants, sprung from himself and a twin sister born with him.

After many years, Adam feels that his time is at last coming and gives commands to Seth his son that his body is to be embalmed at his death and laid in the cave, preserving with it the treasures of gold, incense and myrrh. Seth is to know that a flood shall come and destroy the earth, all but a few saved in a ship, the Ark, and he is to see that, at the time of the flood, his father’s body, with the treasures, is taken into the Ark. Then, when the flood has gone down, he is to see that all are buried ‘in the middle of the earth’. A city will arise, Adam prophesies, and after many years it will be plundered and the treasures found. But they will be kept:

and nought of them shall perish, until the Word of God, made man, shall come; when kings shall take them, and shall offer to Him, gold in token of His being King; incense in token of His being God of heaven and earth; and myrrh in token of His passion.


The ‘middle of the earth’ is what is to become the Mount of Golgotha and the city is Jerusalem. After the Flood it is Melchizedek, himself a descendant of Adam, with Shem Noah’s son and an angel sent to show the way, who carries out Adam’s command. Thereafter Melchizadek stays alone at the Mount, sowing his own wheat and tending his own vines. He meets Abram there (not until later is the name Abraham), bringing forth bread and wine in a prefiguration of the eucharist (Genesis 14: 18-20). Later again it is there that the sacrifice of Isaac is offered. The treasures do survive, to pass eventually into the hands of Persian princes and become the Magi’s gifts, while Adam’s body remains, to receive Christ’s redeeming blood at the Crucifixion – his skull is seen at the foot of the Cross in Ethiopian representations of it.

The story of the Magi themselves is in the Synaxary, the Ethiopian calendar of saints and feast days. They are named as descendants of Balaam, the soothsayer of Pethor on the Euphrates, summoned by the king of the Moabites (Numbers 22: 5) to stop the Israelites advance to the Promised Land. (It was he whose donkey, three times on his journey, saw an angel barring the way; Balaam did not, until the donkey was given the power of speech and told him). Balaam, the Synaxary says, prophesied that a great king was to be born in Judaea: ‘There shall come a Star out of Jacob, And a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel’ (Numbers 24: 17). Long years after, his descendants saw a star in the form of a virgin, with a child in her bosom. Their ‘Kings’ forthwith set out for Palestine, each with a retinue of one thousand and seventy cavalry (no wonder Herod was ‘troubled, and all Jerusalem with him’!), to visit the Child and his Mother.

There is a similar account in certain manuscripts of the Ethiopian Miracles of Mary, where it is recorded that Balaam himself saw and painted a vision of a Virgin, a child and a star. The painting was shown to each generation of his descendants until finally, two years before the Nativity, a star recognised from the picture appeared and the journey was begun.

Ethiopian tradition no doubt absorbed elements from elsewhere at various times. The Armenian Infancy Gospel for example has details of the wise men as three kings, Balthasar of Arabia, Gaspar of India and Melkon of Persia, and it is Ethiopian tradition that indeed they represented all the nations of the earth. They saw Christ in varied ways, Balthasar as ‘commander of the Lord’s hosts’; Gaspar as ‘a child, “Son of God incarnate, seated on a throne of glory” ’; Melkon as a ‘man, dying in torment’. Their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh corresponded, and in Ethiopian tradition likewise the Child is offered ‘gold for his royal dignity, frankincense for his priesthood, and myrrh for his death’. To the Magus who carried gold, the child appeared as a man 30 years old; to the one who carried incense, as a child; to the one who carried myrrh, as an old man.

The Adoration of the Magi from Debre Sina Maryam at Gorgora on the north shore of Lake Tana is pictured above. The Magi kneel, with their crowns before them and their horses waiting nearby. They, the Child, and Mary all raise cups in, surely, a toast ! It is a lovely spot.

The Adoration of the Magi from Debre Sina Maryam at Gorgora © The Anglo-Ethiopian Society and Contributors 2003 - 2019

Bazén, Emperor, whose name also appears as Zäbe’esi Bazén, ZäBazén or Tazén, was the seventeenth or twenty-first ruler of the Solomonic line according to the shorter King Lists or the twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth ruler of his line according to the longer King Lists. The Birth of Christ is said to have taken place in the eighth year of his reign.



Aksum tomb, the one belonging to King Bazen. This emperor was supposedly one of the Three Wise Men who followed the star to Bethlehem, to greet the birth of Jesus. Cut in rock, the tomb has multiple burial chambers. On the top of the grave stands a megalith, considered to be one of the earliest structures here.


(British Library Or. 607, f.14v)


Beneath the floor of the palace of the first Christian King of Ethiopia, Ezana, is the tomb of King Bazen.  This King Bazen is traditionally connected with Balthazar.   His name also appears as Zäbe’esi Bazén, ZäBazén Balthazar or Tazén.  He is listed as a part of the Solomonic line.  In other words, he claims lineage through Solomon, King of Israel, and the thought fabled Queen of Sheba.  It is legend that in the 8th year of his reign, Christ was born.  Although Ethiopia is well known as an ancient source of gold, King Bazen is said to have brought Frankincense to the Christ child.

Emperor Bazén (Jewish), whose name also appears as Zäbe’esi Bazén, ZäBazén Balthazar or Tazén, was the seventeenth or twenty-first ruler of the Solomonic line according to the shorter King Lists or the twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth ruler of his line according to the longer King Lists. The Birth of Christ is said to have taken place in the eighth year of his reign. The Ethiopian church teaches that Emperor Bazén was one of the Magi who visited The Baby Jesus. He delivered the gift of frankincense. Because papyrus and skins did not survive due to the humidity, of old it has only been oral tradition, or stone inscriptions. His tomb can be visited today in Axum (Aksum) as can the Boswellia grove that the frankincense most likely came from. When the Emperor returned to Axum he announced that the Messiah had been born. There are several accounts of who the Magi specifically were.

The so-called “Stone of Bazen” is now built into one of the walls of the cathedral of Maryam Tseyon at Aksum, or St. Mary of Zion. It is St. Mary of Zion where many believe the Ark of the Covenant is waiting. (Zephaniah 3:10-12: From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my worshipers, the daughter of My dispersed ones, shall bring My offering.)

In addition to the Tomb of Bazén, located to the West of the city of Axum is what is called the Tomb of Ityopis. The Book of Aksum that was kept at St. Mary of Zion church and was written in the 14th to 17th century AD with updates in the 19th century AD states that Ityopis was the great grandson of Noah.

The late Ruth Plant identified the location per archeologist Stuart Munro-Hay.
Modern day Israel confirms the great numbers of Beta Israel living in Ethiopia. Bazen ruled at a time of great Judaic influence in Aksum. Could Bazen have been one of the great Magi that was one of Daniel’s understudies?


Forgotten Books of Eden: First Book of Adam and Eve › eden_1

(British Museum Manuscript. 25875) 
By the might of our Lord Jesus Christ we begin to write the " Book of the Succession of the Generations," that is to say, ME'ÂRATH GAZZÊ, which was composed by SAINT MÂR APHREM (i.e. Ephraim, commonly known as "Ephraim Syrus," or "Ephraim the Syrian,'' who died A.D. 373).




"Book of the Cave of Treasures" in Syriac and the "Book of Adam and Eve" in Ethiopic were identical.

"Book of Adam and Eve" contains two main sections.

The first contains a History of the Creation, which claims to be a translation of the "Hexemeron" of Epiphanius, Bishop in Cyprus. In it are given an account of the work of the six days of Creation, the Vision of Gregory concerning the Fall of Satan, a description of the Four Heavens, the Creation of Man, the temptation of Eve, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise.


the second Section contains "The History of the departure of Adam and Eve from Paradise, and their arrival in the Cave of Treasures by the command of God."


Patriarch Eutychius also describes a cave of treasures in which gold, frankincense, and myrrh were laid up, and refers to the "portentosa feminarum nomina," who were the ancestresses of Christ.


When Adam and Eve left Paradise they went into a strange land, and were terrified at the stones and sand which they saw before them, and became like dead folk. Then God sent His Word to them, and He told them that after five and a half weeks, i.e. 5,500 years, He would come in the flesh and save man. He had already made them this promise in Paradise, when they stood by the tree of forbidden fruit.When God saw that Adam was terrified by the darkness of the night,

He sent Michael into Judea, and told him to bring back tablets of gold, and when they arrived God set them in the Cave to lighten the darkness of the night therein.
And God sent Gabriel into Paradise to fetch incense, and Raphael to bring myrrh from the same place, and these symbolic substances being placed in the Cave, Adam was comforted.

The Star and the Magi.

   Now, it was two years before Christ was born that the star appeared to the Magi. They saw the star in the firmament of heaven, and the brilliancy of its appearance was brighter than that of every other star. And within it was a maiden carrying a child, and a crown was set upon his head. Now it was the custom of the ancient kings, and the Magi of the Chaldeans, to consult the Signs of the Zodiac about all the affairs of their lives.

And when the Magi saw the star they were perturbed, and terrified, and afraid, and the whole land of Persia was disturbed. And the kings, and the Magi, and the Chaldeans, and the wise men of Persia, were stupefied, and they were exceedingly afraid of the portent which they saw. And they said, "Peradventure the king of the Greeks hath determined to wage war against the land of Nimrod." And the Magi and the Chaldeans were terrified, and they consulted their books of wisdom, and through the might of the wisdom of their books they understood and learned, and stood upon the strength of the truth. Now, in truth, the Magi of the Chaldeans discovered that by means of the motions of the stars, to which they gave the name of "Signs of the Zodiac," they were able to know and understand the strength (or, importance) of events before they took place. And this same knowledge is also given to those who go down into the sea, and by the motions of the stars they know beforehand when there is going to be a disturbance of the winds, and when a violent storm is going to rise up against them, and whenever they are about to be threatened with danger from winds and waves. Thus also was it with the Magi. When they saw and read in the "Revelation of Nimrod" they discovered therein that a king was born in Judah, and the whole path of the Dispensation of Christ was revealed unto them.

   [NOTE.--As touching the nature of that star, whether it was a star in its nature, or in appearance only, it is right to know that it was not of the other stars, but a secret power which appeared like a star; for all the other stars that are in the firmament, and the sun and moon, perform their course from east to west. This one, however, made its course from north to south, for Palestine lies thus, over against Persia. This star was not seen by them at night only, but also during the day, and at noon; and it was seen at the time when the sun is particularly strong, because it was not one of the stars. Now the moon is stronger in its light than all the stars, but it is immediately quenched and its light dissipated by one small ray of the sun. But this star overcame even the beams of the sun by the intensity of its light. Sometimes it appeared, and sometimes it was hidden entirely. It guided the Magi as far as Palestine. . . . . . This was not an ordinary movement of the stars, but a rational power. Moreover, it had no fixed path. It did not remain always in the height of heaven, but sometimes it came down, and sometimes it mounted up. Book of the Bee (chapter xxxviii).]

And straightway, according to what they had received from the tradition which had been handed down to them by their fathers, they left the East, and went up to the mountains of Nôdh, which lie inside the entrances to the East from the lands on the skirts of the North, and they took from them gold, and myrrh, and frankincense. And from this [passage] understand, O my brother Nemesius, that the Magi knew the whole service of the Dispensation of our Redeemer through the offerings which they brought: the gold was for a king, the myrrh for a physician, and the frankincense for a priest, for the Magi knew Who He was, and that He was a king, and a physician, and a priest. Now when the son of the king of Sheba was a little boy his father brought him to a Rabbi, and he learned the Book of the Hebrews better than all his companions and his fellow countrymen, and he said unto all his slaves, "It is written in all the books of genealogies that the king shall be born in Bethlehem."

The names of the Magi.

   These are they who bore offerings to the King, kings, the sons of kings:--

   1. HÔRMÎZDADH of Mâkhôzdî, king of Persia, who was called "King of Kings," and dwelt in Lower Âdhôrghîn.

   2. ÎZGARAD (Yazdegerd), the king of Sâbhâ.

   3. PERÔZÂDH, the king of Sheba, which is in the East.

   [NOTE.--In the Book of Adam (iv. 15) the kings are called Hor, king of Persia, Basantar, king of Saba, and Karsundas, king of the East.

 Now the Magi are called "Magi" because of the garb of Magianism in which the heathen kings arrayed themselves whensoever they offered up a sacrifice and made offerings to their gods. They made use of two different kinds of apparel; that which appertained to royalty [they wore] inside, and that which appertained to Magianism outside . And thus also was it with those who went up prepared to make offerings to Christ, and they were arrayed in both kinds of apparel.

[-In addition to the gold, frankincense and myrrh which the Magi brought, they laid before the Child as an offering thirty zûzê of silver. Their weight was according to the weight of the sanctuary, but they were equal to six hundred pieces according to the weight of the country. (The Syriac zûzê = the Arabic dirham and the Greek drachme.) The thirty pieces were made by Terah, who gave them to Abraham, who gave them to Isaac. With them Isaac bought a village, and the man who received them took them to Pharaoh. Pharaoh sent them to David as a contribution towards the building of the Temple, and Solomon placed them round the door of the altar. Nebuchadnezzar carried them away to Babylon, and gave them to certain royal Persian hostages, who took p. 213 them to Persia and gave them to their parents. When the Magi set out for Jerusalem they took the thirty pieces with their other offerings out with them they bought from certain shepherds at Edessa "the garment without seam," which an angel had given to them. Abgar, king of Edessa, took the thirty pieces and the garment from the shepherds, and sent them to Christ. Christ kept the garment and sent the thirty pieces to the Jewish treasury. The priests gave them to Judas Iscariot for betraying our Lord, but he repented and took them back to the priests. After Judas hanged himself the priests purchased a burial ground for strangers with the thirty pieces (Book of the Bee, chapter xliv) . Another legend says that Joseph had the thirty pieces, and that with them he bought spices to embalm Jacob. They passed into the possession of the Queen of Sheba, who gave them to Solomon (Sandeys, Christmas Carols, London, 1883, page lxxxiii).]

The Conversion of the Magi.

   And the Magi lived with the Child three days, and they saw the hosts of heaven going up and coming down to Christ. And they heard the sound of the praises of the angels, who sang hymns and cried out, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Mighty God, with whose praises the heavens and the earth are filled." And they were in great fear, and in truth they believed in Christ, and said, "This is the King Who hath come down from heaven and become man." And Perôzdhâdh answered and said unto them, "Now know I that the prophecy of Isaiah is true. For when I was in the school of the Hebrews I read in [the Book of] Isaiah, and I found [written] therein thus: 'For unto us a child is born, and unto us a son hath been given. And His Name shall be called Wonderful, and Counsellor, and God, Giant of the Worlds'" (Isa. ix. 6). And it is written in another place, "Behold, a virgin is with child, and she shall bring forth a son, and his name shall be called p. 215 'Emmanuel,' which is, being interpreted, 'God with us'" (Isa. vii. 14). And because He became like a man, and the angels were coming down  from heaven to Him, truly He is the Lord of angels and men. And all the Magi believed and said, "Truly this King is God. Kings are born unto us frequently, and mighty men, the sons of mighty men, are born unto us on earth, but it is an unheard-of thing for the angels to come down to them." And straightway they all rose up, and did homage to Him as the Lord and King of the world. And having prepared food for their journey, they went down to their own country by a desert road.

 After  the magi left Jerusalem, Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt


When Joseph and Mary and the Child reached the gate of the city of Hermopolis, there were by the two buttresses of the gate two figures of brass that had been made by the sages and philosophers; and they spoke like men. When our Lord entered Egypt these two figures cried out with a loud voice, saying, "A great king has come into Egypt." Book of the Bee (chapter xl.)]it is purported that Balthazar celebrated Christmas with the other members of the Magi in Armenia in 54 AD but later died on 6 January 55 AD aged 112.

Ethiopian historians are now looking at the theory that it was Ethiopian kings who traveled from different parts of ancient Ethiopia to present the gifts to the Christ child to fulfill the prophecy of their sages. Maṣḥaf Kebur (መጽሐፍ ክቡር), an Amharic source published in 2008/9, lists the names of the three wise men and the kings who accompanied them to Jerusalem.

The first wise man was Agoja-Jabon; with him were three kings, namely Abol, Tona and Baraka.
The second was Magal who had with him Kings Makdas, Awra, and Murno.
The third wise man was Agabon who was accompanied by Kings Hajabon, Abulsalam and Arstatalu. The King of Kings of all the sovereigns was A