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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Lapierre

Magi Astrologers: What was the Star of Bethlehem?

The term "Magi" is the only Persian word in the Bible, and its record of these Wise Men is slim on the details. Most likely, they were priests of the Zoroastrian religion, which was the predominant religion of Persia (Iran) at that time. These gentlement were On A Mission to visit Jesus, as this journey was no small feat. In order to reach Bethlehem (via a stop at Herod's palace in Jerusalem), they had to travel over 1,200 miles from Tehran. If they covered 20 miles a day, they would be riding camels for two months straight. Can you imagine how your glutes would feel after that trip? No thank you.

Their names -- Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar -- are not found in the Bible but first appear in a 6th-century manuscript called the "Excerpta Latina Barbari," and later traditions and stories associated them with the Magi.

"In Matthew's Gospel the Magi appear to be noble and respected figures, whose esoteric talents are employed in the service of Truth and God. True, Matthew restricts the visitors' occult feats to the necessities of his story. They deliver their gifts, display a little astrological skill when questioned by King Herod and then leave. It is almost as if they make Matthew nervous. But they have to be there, as a kind of payment for a debt. After all, in a text now known as the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus, Zoroaster had predicted the miraculous birth of a Messiah to human parents." (NYT, Secret Lives of the Wise Men, by Paul William Roberts, Dec. 25, 1995)

So what star were they chasing? One possibility is it was a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces in 7 B.C. Then four years later in 3 B.C., Jupiter and Venus conjuncted very tightly together, which also would have appeared as one big, bright star. But there is a third theory postulated by lawyer/researcher Rick Larson who made a 2007 documentary about his findings embedded below. He believes that the Star of Bethlehem phenomena was actually the meeting of Jupiter with the star Regulus as it was observed over Bethlehem during its triple conjunction on December 25, 2 BC. Regulus means "Little King," ironically. This theory actually meets the nine different criteria described by Matthew -- that this "star" signified birth, it signified kingship, it was related to the Jewish nation, it "rose in the East," it was not known to Herod, it appeared at a specific time, it maintained its position in the night sky over time, it was before the Magi as they traveled south to Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and then, according to the Matthew, it stopped over the city of Bethlehem.

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