BibleTools

Topical Studies

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page


Bible verses about Magi
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Jeremiah 39:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jeremiah 39:3, 13 is the earliest of ancient records mentioning magi.

The word "Rabmag" is merely transliterated because the original translators did not understand its meaning, and even subsequent translations have left it untranslated. However, it has since been correctly deciphered as "chief magus."

The best translation authorities say that "magus" (a singular form of "magi") comes from an old Pahlavi Persian word mag or mog, meaning "priest" or "great one." Thus, a man by the name of Nergal-Sharezer was the "rabmag" or "chief magus" of the Babylonians at this time (about 586 BC) when they were conquering Jerusalem.

The magi of Babylon were heathen physicians, priests, and learned men, and it is said that from them descended a line of evil, perverted priests and sorcerers (said to include Haman of the book of Esther and Barjesus or Elymas of Acts 13). It is not at all likely therefore, that the magi of Matthew 2, seeking to worship the newborn King of the Jews, could be included with the likes of these men!

Staff
Who Were the Wise Men?


 

Daniel 2:48  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Using the Brown, Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, we can define some of the key terms:

» "promoted" (rebah) — to grow long, tall, or great; to increase; to make great.

» "ruler" (shelet) — to have power, to rule (over), to make ruler.

» "chief" (rab) — (adj.) great; (n.) a captain, a chief.

» "administrator" (cegan) — a prefect, a governor.

» "wise men" (chakkiym) — (adj.) wise; (n.) a wise man

The verse tells us the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar elevated God's servant Daniel to the ranks of the great in Babylon. He made Daniel a ruler, an official of great power over his kingdom. This promotion made Daniel the chief or lord over all the other wise men (magi) of Babylon.

This act of Nebuchadnezzar gave Daniel the power and the opportunity to make significant changes in the way the magi operated in Babylon. He may have held this post for the rest of his long life, and such a long tenure would ensure that many of his changes would endure. We could also speculate that, understanding the Seventy Weeks Prophecy (Daniel 9:20-27), he could have passed along to the magi the need to watch for strange tidings in Judea around this time.

We should also remember that a large number of Jews, Levites, and Benjamites still lived in Babylon and the surrounding areas, for only a small percentage of Judeans returned from exile to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:64-67). Some of them, following the example of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, may have been magi or governors. It is most probable, then, that the magi who visited the young Jesus would come under this second category of God-fearing, high-ranking rulers.

Staff
Who Were the Wise Men?


 

Micah 5:2  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

He is prophesying of the birthplace of the Messiah. He makes it clear that it will be in Bethlehem of Judea, the place of David's birth as well. But when did He reveal the precise location of where a person could find Him? Not until He had an angel lead the Magi right to the house where the Messiah was at the time they arrived there. It came at the last moment. Will the timing of His second coming be similar?

We all know that He is coming. We all know that He will circle the earth when He comes, that He will come with a great horde of angels, but when precisely will He arrive? When will God reveal the exact moment? It looks as if it will be right at the end.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 3)


 

Matthew 2:1-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The first "magi myth" that we should question is the tradition of "we three kings." The Bible nowhere states how many magi visited the infant Jesus. Although Matthew mentions three types of gifts they presented to the Son of God, there may have been two, three, or more of them. Some have even thought there might be as many as twelve!

Regardless of how many there were, the question remains, "Who were they?" Because the wise men saw and followed a "star," many believe that they were pagan astrologers. However, throughout Scripture, God soundly condemns astrology. Notice a few quite pointed examples:

» And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, and you feel driven to worship them and serve them. (Deuteronomy 4:19)

» If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you, a man or woman who has . . . gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven which I have not commanded, . . . then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. (Deuteronomy 17:2-3, 5)

» Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, and the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from these things that shall come upon you. Behold, they shall be as stubble, the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame. (Isaiah 47:13-14)

In addition, the wise men who visited Jesus knew in advance who they were going to visit and that the purpose of their visit was to worship Him (Matthew 2:2, 11). It is highly unlikely that heathen, idolatrous astrologers would go to the great effort to travel many, many miles to give honor to the son of a deity they did not worship. With this evidence, we can be quite certain that these magi were not pagan astrologers.

Staff
Who Were the Wise Men?


 

Matthew 2:1-2  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Where did these wise men come from? As explained in Francis W. Upham's book, The Wise Men (1869), there are two Greek expressions for "East" used in Matthew 2:1-2, 9.

Firstly, in verse 1: "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem." "The East" is ton anatolon, the common Greek expression for "eastern regions," particularly those far distant.

Secondly, in verses 2 and 9:

"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and have come to worship Him." . . . When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.

In both verses, "the East" is te anatole, literally, "the rising," which could mean either that the magi saw the star when it first appeared—at its rising—or that they saw it from their vantage point east of Jerusalem, the direction in which the sun rises. The latter is more natural and to be preferred. The magi, while in a place east of Jerusalem, saw the star, and it led them west.

The more important expression, then, appears in verse 1. The magi were from "the East," a land or lands far away from the Judea of 4 BC. This could not mean Arabia for two reasons: 1) The New Testament explicitly identifies Arabia in Galatians 1:17, so why not here as well? 2) Though we know Arabia is east and south of Palestine, commonly expression of the time considered Arabia to be in the south, not the east. Further, any nearby country would have been named specifically and does not qualify as "distant."

In the distant east lay the Parthian Empire, little known today, but it rivaled the Roman Empire for hegemony of the world at the time. Parthia included all the conquered lands of Babylon, Persia, Bactria, and many other countries on the east side of the Euphrates River. It was to these lands that the Assyrians had exiled some of the ancient house of Israel, and many of their descendants had remained in the region.

The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature by John J. McClintock and James Strong, in its article "Magi," says that some of the ancient magi claimed Abraham as their ancestor. If this were true, it would add evidence that the magi were Israelites who were desirous to honor the One who could be their rightful King, especially since the miraculous star made His birth so auspicious. (For more on the magi being Israelites from Parthia, please see The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel . . . Found! by Steven M. Collins, pp. 205-278.)

Altogether, this biblical and historical evidence indicates that the magi of Matthew 2 were not pagan astrologers whose observations of the heavenly bodies led them to the infant Jesus. Rather, they were probably God-fearing descendants of the exiled house of Israel who were led to Bethlehem miraculously, likely by an angel, just as they were "divinely warned" to flee back to their homeland after their visit (Matthew 2:12).

Once again, we see that if we are willing to break free of the bonds of the world's traditions, the historical evidence backs up the Bible record and leads us to the truth.

Staff
Who Were the Wise Men?


 

Find more Bible verses about Magi:
Magi {Nave's}
 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 110,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page
 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
©Copyright 1992-2014 Church of the Great God.   Contact C.G.G. if you have questions or comments.