News to the Magi
The News to the Magi
To most of us, the story of the wise men is strange. Who were they? Why would they look for a king because of a star? In different translations the travelers are called wise men, magi or astrologers. The term "wise men" (hakamim) is often used to describe a pagan king's counselors that are schooled in the magical arts, and are often mentioned with magicians and diviners. It was common that pagan kings had magicians. We hear about them interpreting dreams of Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar, and trying to reproduce the miracles of Moses.
One of these diviners who lived 1500 years before Jesus made a prophecy that is important for understanding why they were looking for a star. Balaam was a powerful, internationally known magician who was hired by a king to put a curse on the Israelites. But instead, God forced him to bless them and prophesy about their future. He said:
The imagery of stars is closely
associated with kings, and kings were poetically described as stars
in the heavens. The poetic parallel of the word star in this passage
is "scepter," which certainly is a kingly image. The word
scepter also means "comet," also hinting that there was a
tie between celestial events and earthly kings. It seems logical that
the messianic king that the Jews expected was associated with a "star
rising from Jacob" (meaning Israel), a celestial event that announced
his arrival. Astronomers are still speculating what event was associated with Jesus
and how the wise men interpreted it.
seems that w hen
they learned by of the coming of this powerful figure, most likely the
pagan kings had sent them with riches to deliver to this new ruler to
pay homage for their countries.
It seems that
hen they learned by of the coming of this powerful figure, most likely the pagan kings had sent them with riches to deliver to this new ruler to pay homage for their countries.
It is interesting
to note that these pagan magicians probably also used divination also
to gain this news. This tells us how the
rest of the spiritual world reacted to the coming of Jesus. We know
that the angels rejoiced to see that he was born. But it seems that
all of the spiritual world was also in an uproar about the coming of
this king! Not only were the angels telling the shepherds, but demons were telling the pagan magicians in distant countries about the powerful king who had arrived on earth. They
knew that he would be king of all creation, and that he was more than
human - he was the Son of God who would have a unique authority over
the spiritual world that made the demons shake in fear.
be reminded of the great authority and power of Christ, whose coming
was not just earth-shattering, but "heaven-shattering," rocking
the spiritual world as well.
should be reminded of the great authority and power of Christ, whose coming was not just earth-shattering, but "heaven-shattering," rocking the spiritual world as well.
©2005 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All rights
reserved. This article is copyrighted and may not be redistributed
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