Many historians have attempted to determine the date of Jesus' birth by looking for records concerning comets, meteors, supernovae, conjunctions of planets, and the like.
What was the "star" that led the wise men to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem? Was it a physical star at all? Whatever it was, the "star" (Greek aster) was definitely of miraculous origin; it was no ordinary, physical star. For instance, it had the ability to move. Matthew writes that the star "went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was" (Matthew 2:9). No star we have ever seen can do that! Even shooting stars—really meteors burning up in the atmosphere—cannot change directions and stop over a specific place!
"His star" (verse 2) was possibly—perhaps even probably—an angel. These spirit beings have a glorious appearance like a radiating star, and they can certainly move and change directions to show someone the way. Stars in the Bible often symbolize angels, for example:
» [Where were you] when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)
» His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven. . . . And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought. (Revelation 12:4, 7)
Who Were the Wise Men?
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.
Who Were the Wise Men?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 2:7: