In the east?

Vanetten.Edward (
Thu, 19 Dec 1996 08:54:00 -0800

Matthew 2:2 records that the Wise Men saw the star
"in the east". I understand that this may
be an idiom meaning "at its rising in the
eastern sky". I always thought that "the east"
referred to the Eastern region from whence
the wise men came as stated in verse 1,
"from the east to Jerusalem". In other words
when the wise men first observed the "new
star" appear, they were in their homeland
"in the east[ern region]" located some distance
east of Jerusalem. The "new star" SIGNALED the
birth of the Christ child. It was not intended to
be used as a constant guide from their homeland to
the Christ child, as witnessed by verse 2 when
the wise men asked "Where is he that is born
king of the Jews?" They understood that this
celestial phenomenon was a sign indicating the
birth took place and upon seeing the expected
sign, they made preparations for their long journey
westward to Jerusalem to worship the long awaited
for Messiah. In verse 7 Herod asked them how
long ago was it that they first observed the
star while they were "in the east" at their
homeland. This gave him an approximate age
of the child. When the wise men visited
Jesus to bestow their gifs he is described
as a "young child in a house", not a "babe
in a manger", because of the several months
that had elapsed from when the star had first
appeared and when the wise men finally arrived
at the home in which Jesus was living.

I feel these wise men were not only knowledgable
in astronomy, but more importantly were wise in
understanding the things of God and his purposes.
They had respect for the writings of the prophets
that predicted the birth of the Messiah in
Bethlehem. They came to WORSHIP the child, not
just pay him a visit. They were under God's
protection as indicated by the dream not to
return to Herod. Perhaps they in their homeland had
prophecies that spoke of a "new star" that would
arise to signal the birth of the Christ child, and
that this child would be born in the region
around Jerusalem. Verse 9 records that the star
"came and stood over where" Jesus was. This was
reported by Matthew, because it was miraculous
phenomenon, not just an event that normally occurs
over the passage of time during the rotation
of the earth. The life of Jesus was full of
miracles and it started with his birth.
The wise men were not lead from their homeland
to Bethlehem by the star, but were lead there
by their righteous desire to seek out and
worship their Savior.

Ed Van Etten
Ontario, California