Three Wise Men
A Legend Card from Time4me Greetings
Facts and Fables
The nativity scene depicts the stables, shepherds, manger,
Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and three wise men.
But were there really three?
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The three gifts of the Magi have given rise to the legend of the "Three" Wise Men. It has been suggested that this is reasonable because no Magi would have brought more than one gift and neither would any of them have come empty handed. But equally there could have been more than three. Perhaps there were seven Magi, with three bringing gifts of gold, two of frankincense and two of myrhh? The numbers are pure supposition. The Bible account tells us only that there was more than one Magi, but their number is
unknown and there is no evidence that they were Kings.

The Magi probably came from Persia or southern Arabia. They are believed to be linked with the priesthood of the religion of Zoroastrianism or the practice of Astrology. Naturally they looked for the new King in Jerusalem, the capital where the paranoid King Herod heard of their quest.

The prophet Micah had predicted 700 years previously that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. King Herod's fears of this prompted him to talk to the Magi, sending them to Bethlehem to find the child and return to him with the information. The Bible clearly states that the visit of the Magi to Jesus was not on the night of his birth, unlike the shepherds' visit to the manger, and occurred later when Jesus was staying in a house in Bethlehem.

The Epiphany (January 6) is the 12th day of Christmas and commemorates the Visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus.



More information on events following the birth of Jesus is found in Matthew 2: 1-23.

Verses 1-2:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi came from the east to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

Verses 7-8:
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

Verses 9-12:
After they had heard the King, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.


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Sources:
The Bible
Christmas Facts
Urban Legends