The magi are not magicians from Persia but are wise men
According to Brown (362), magi are an oriental sect of philosophers that originated from the land of Persia. According to him, this sect of philosophers later moved to other countries such as Assyria and Arab country in the border of Judea. Brown (363) says that magi are comprised of wise men majorly from the east and adds that magi had their first rise in Persia. According to Nweeya (119), magi were the magicians who had the ability to read stars and forecast future happenings relying on the interpretations of these stars. Nweeya (124) gives the definition of magi according to the gospel of Mathews that magi were the magicians from the east or the three wise men of the king from the east that went to visit baby Jesus.
Nweeya (125) further illustrates that, it is only in the book of Mathews in the four gospel books that mentions about the magi. Nweeya (127) shows that these kings from the east came to worship the king of Jews that had been born. He further illustrates that they visited baby Jesus with gifts such as gold, frankincense and myrrh. This visit took place during the ruling of Herod. The three wise men went to Herod and asked him where the king of Jews had been born. They told Herod that they had observed the star and they wanted to pay tribute to the born king. Asked where they got this information the three wise men said that they had observed the star and followed it. When Herod heard this he got too frightened as he believed that another ruler of the land of Judea has been born and he will be definitely be replaced. He therefore instructed the wise men to go and get the information where the king had been born so that he can also go and honor him. The star guided the three wise men up to Bethlehem Judea and they saw the king of Jews. When the magi were there, they had a dream instructing them not to go back to king Herod because he was a bad man who wanted to harm the born king (Nweeya 198).
According to Daly and Hofmeyr (32), there existed three strange ornate tombs that were domed with roofs. The people of Sareh believed that these tombs were for Balthsar, Melchior, and Jasper. In this ancient town of Sareh, there was a belief that, there was a tower and in this tower there were turquoise tiles. The tower was also filled with strange instruments, mysterious charts and also glowing masks of potions. It was in this tower that the magi operated.
Daly and Hofmeyr (32), state that the three men who lived in this tower climbed it when ever there were stars. They did this to explore the heavens and this they achieved by, looking through the narrow star getting tubes and they also had various charts. The magi plotted the star by bending the charts. The people of Sareh believed that the star gazers were not only magicians but also healers and holy men (Daly and Hofmeyr 32).
According to Daly and Hofmeyr (32), one night as the night got darker; a very unique star appeared to the three star gazers. This star appeared from the west and it filled the sky with brilliant trails of fiery light. The three astronomers had diverse views on this magnificent star. Jasper thought it was a planet, Melchior thought they have discovered a comet, while Balthsar said it was a big mystery and advised them to consult their charts and scrolls.
The astronomers spent three days searching through scrolls and rolls of scribbling and finally they came across a legend that was very strange in nature. This legend was about a baby was birth was announced by a star rather by a human being and that this baby had the ability of bringing fortunes such as justice, healing and peace to the people of the world (Daly and Hofmeyr 32).The three astronomers were undecided on the gifts to bring to the born baby as a sign of honor. Jasper said that because the baby was probably a king, he should be given gold. Melchior suggested that because he believed the baby was a healer, he should be given an ointment of myrrh and Belthsar said that the baby should be given holy incense in order to verify if he is a holy man who is capable of bringing peace to the people of the world. Because they could not reach a consensus they decided to take all of the three gifts to pay tribute to the born baby (Daly and Hofmeyr 32).
According to Grigson (28), the bible does not mention the three kings in the St Mathew’s gospel nor does it mention kings. But it only mentions the wise men he further points out the bible failure to mention the names of the wise men and their countries of origin and also not mentioning the ox.
Grigson (28) further criticizes the bible for giving undetailed information by simply saying that that the wise men came from the east by following a star that led them to Bethlehem where they knelt down before a new born king.
According to Grigson (28), the Old Testament foretold the New Testament. He says that there are conceivable implications that out of the treasures the wise men had opened, they just had three gifts and which h criteria did they use in selecting the gold, frankincense and the myrrh out of the various gifts they had brought with them.
The book of psalms refers to the magi as the kings of Tharsis, Arabia and Suba who had come with their gifts (Grigson 29).He disputes this by asking how could they be three Eastern kings from three specific kingdoms? But Christian fathers say that these were wise men not kings.
Grigson (30) states that the three kings were Melchior of Europe who was the king of Persia, Jasper who was the king of Hindous and Balthsar who was the king of Arabs. The three kings had arrived from Persia with 12,000 soldiers on a horseback. They had gifts such as myrrh, aloes, rare fabrics, incense and rare gifts that foretold the birth of Christ (Grigson 31).According to him each gift had a symbolic meaning. For instance, gold symbolized kingship, incense symbolized divinity while myrrh symbolized death. It is also said that the kings followed a star that had a likeness of an infant.
In conclusion, the legend on the magi of Persia has being modified and retold in various versions. But all versions have mentioned the aspect of a star and the existence of magi referred to as either kings or simply wise men. The arguments above justifies that, magi are wise men and not simply magicians.
Brown.J. (2006) historical- Dictionary of the holy bible-online edition
Daly and Hofmeyr.D (2009), the stone: A Persian legend of the magi-on line edition
Nweeya. (2010), Persia, the land of the magi or the home of the wise men, General book
Grigson.G (2010), History today; the three kings of cologne-online editio
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