Re: Follow the star

T & J Peterson (
Wed, 18 Dec 1996 15:53:47 -0800

Vanetten.Edward wrote:
> Tradition seems to have the Wise Men traveling from
> their homeland to Bethlehem by following the star.
> As I read Matt. 2 they went from their homeland
> straight to Jerusalem, because they did not know
> where Jesus was born. (KJV verse 2 "Where is
> he that is born King of the Jews?") So at this
> point the star was not leading them as traditionally
> thought. In verses 5 & 6 they find out from a
> prophecy the Jews had, but the Wise Men
> did not, that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem.
> ["The Bread of Life" was to be born in the "House
> of Bread"] It was AFTER getting this information
> that the star seemed to REAPPEAR to guide them directly
> to the location of Jesus. Verse 10 states they
> "rejoiced with exceeding great joy" at seeing
> the star AGAIN. If the star was continually
> guiding them from their homeland, there would be no
> reason for them to detour via Herod. And if
> the Wise Men had not seen Herod then the slaughter
> of the children would not have taken place.
> Obviously the reappearance of the star was not
> a coincidence, not a normal act of nature. God seems
> to have been taking an active part in the entire
> event, including telling the Wise Men not to return
> to Herod. I think the Wise men looked to Jesus
> not only as the "King of the Jews", but as the
> "Messiah of the Jews" as evidenced by their
> worshipping him. The lowly shepherds
> worshipped Jesus and now Matthew reports that the
> rich and powerful worship him also, showing that
> Jesus is Savior for all mankind regardless of one's
> status in life. Oops ... off the soap box, back
> to my question ....
> Are there alternate Greek translations
> that support the traditional view of the star
> CONSTANTLY guiding them? And if there are why
> did the Wise Men go to Herod?
> Ed Van Etten
> Ontario, California

Another possible interpretation that I've heard is that the wise men
failed to follow the star completely. As they drew near and realized
that their journey must end in Palestine, they naturally assumed that a
king would be born in the capital of Jerusalem. We can't really fault
them as pagans, for this lapse of faith, but instead of trusting the sign
God had given them, they diverted and acted upon their own understanding.
When they realized that they were mistaken and returned to the proper
course, they once again saw the star. As for the traditional view,
there's been a lot of confusion over the years. The idea of there being
"three" wise men seems to have come from the three types of gifts
mentioned. Some traditions even give them names. They are also supposed
to have arrived at the manger, when actually they came to the OIKIAN,
which indicates that it was probably some time later. Herod's attempt to
kill the babies of Bethlehem also seems to indicate a reasonable passage
of time since the birth.