Who were the Wise men? This is a brief study of the wise men that came to see the Messiah Christ-child in Bethlehem.
Who were the Wise men?
These men were from the wise men of Persia. In all probability, these men saw the star over the birthplace of Jesus much time before Jesus was born. This guided them during a long and arduous journey to arrive there.
How many wise men were there?
The Bible does not say. From the three gifts that they gave, some assume that there were just 3 of them. Ancients believed that there were 12. Most probably there were more that three men in that band. Carrying gold and other expensive presents with them, they probably had some kind of soldier or warrior with them, and others to serve the wise men.
Why did they come?
The most obvious and to the point answer is that they came to worship God incarnate born in Bethlehem. This is not that they knew things about the Messiah that nobody else knew, because they gathered their knowledge from the Hebrew Old Testament available to many. They simply studied the Bible and God blessed them with this mission.
In a more practical sense, these men brought a great amount of money into the family of poor Joseph and Mary. This money is what this young couple used to live and support themselves and their child for the first years of his life. This was God’s provision for his divine missionary to save the souls of men.
How much did they know?
It might surprise many people if they search a Bible concordance that there are only two references to the “Messiah” in the Bible.
Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
John 1:41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
John 4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
In Greek, the word is changed slightly to be Messias. So this is the third occurrence and fourth occurrence.
But we do not see a whole lot of teaching mentioning that word. But the divine person who was to come and save the world is the focus of the New Testament and the Old Testament.
How does the appearance of the star fit into the narrative?
In ancient times (which God seems to allow this concept to be fulfilled in the coming of His Son), but they believed that when a great king was born, a star would appear in the sky. The Bethlehem star fits this narrative. This was a divine sign that nobody could deny, and nobody could explain except by this tradition.
What are some anomalies in the story?
First of all, the hot bed of all the Jewish people was still in Jerusalem at this time. Yes there were captive Jews taken to surrounding countries through the wars and such, but the center of the Jewish religion was still in Israel. The fact that exile students of Scripture knew these prophecies very easily and the rabbi in Jerusalem apparently let it slip by them is remarkable.
Secondly, Herod had interest in the birth of the Messiah. Not that he was a believer or wanted to really worship him, but he saw this birth as a threat to his reign, and that threat had to be eliminated. So he wanted to know so that he could kill the baby Jesus. The trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is a scant 6 kilometers, or about 7 miles. Somebody could walk this in a few hours, and Herod had transportation available to him that would make the trip insignificant.
Herod did not want to bother himself by going personally and searching for him, so this is seen here.
Who were the Wise men?