Christmas is around the corner, and we can hear carols playing on the radio already. Shops are getting ready with their Christmas sales and people are getting ready to decorate their houses. One of the main pieces of decoration in many Christian homes would be the “Nativity Scene”, “Manger Scene” or “Crib” as it is known, which is the depiction of the Birth of Yeshua (Jesus’ true name). This story is by far, one that is read more than any other in the Bible by almost all Christians. But their is something out of place with this picture we have grown up with. Can you guess what? It’s the Wise Men!
What do I mean by saying that the Wise Men are “out of place”? What I mean is that the Wise men did not bring gifts to the place where Yeshua was born. Nor were they present where He was lying in a manger, biblically. Before you cry “Blasphemy” or call me “plain silly”, I would ask you to re-read the Gospel accounts to understand the truth as I have tried to explain in the study below. If you are interested in knowing the true story – read on!
The Birth of Yeshua is mentioned only in the accounts of Matthew and Luke. Reading the account of Yeshua’s birth in the gospel of Luke (2:1-18), we find that the shepherds were indeed present at the time of His birth, and that they saw the baby laid in a Manger. The misunderstood verses are in the account of Matthew.
Please read through Mat 2:1-16 once more. I have provided the important parts of the text below, and have given a short explanation afterwards:
Mat 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
Mat 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Mat 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
In the gospel of Matthew, we find that Yeshua is born in Bethlehem in the time of King Herod. Wise men come from the East to Jerusalem, to worship the one who is born “King of the Jews”. This upsets King Herod. Then he gathers the Chief priests and scribes and asks them where Christ would be born, to which they reply “In Bethlehem” according to the Prophets. Then Herod secretly asks the Wise Men when they saw this star appear in the sky. This verse is one of the keys to understanding the account written in Matthew, which we will come to shortly. Then Herod sends them to Bethlehem in search of this child king asking them to bring back information to him. Then Matthew’s account reads that the Wise men finally arrived at the “House” where Mary and Joseph resided (Not a stable). It further more reads that they came and worshiped the “Young Child” who was with his Mother (Not a baby in a Manger). They give gifts – namely, gold, frankincense, and myrrh (There is no mention of 3 Wise Men – only that there were 3 varieties of gifts). Then they return to their own country through another route without going back to Herod. Joseph is also warned to take the Child to Egypt because of Herod. Meanwhile King Herod understood that the Wise men had ignored his advice and was furious. The next verse is the Key to understanding why the Wise Men were not present at Yeshua’s birth. Matthew explains that Herod killed all the children that were in Bethlehem and in the coasts, from two years and under, “according to the time” he secretly inquired from the wise men; the time when they had seen the star appear, as we saw in Mat 2:7.
The Gospel account of Matthew is clear on these following facts
1. The wise men entered a House (Mat 2:11), not a stable with a Manger as described in Luk 2:7
2. They worshiped a young Child (Mat 2:11), not a baby in a Manger as described in Luk 2:16
3. There is no indication whether there were 3 Wise men. Only that there were 3 varieties of gifts (Mat 2:11)
4. The most important of facts from the account of Matthew is that King Herod killed the Children under 2 years according to the information from the wise men about the time the star appeared (Mat 2:7,16). This means that the Wise Men arrived in Judea some time about 2 years after Yeshua’s Birth, as the star is what informed them of His birth (Mat 2:2). Why would Herod have killed children under two years otherwise? He could have killed only newborn babies, if His birth had just happened.
According to Matthew’s gospel account; Mary & Joseph took the child and fled to Egypt according to a vision/dream(Mat 2:13,14) and was there till Herod’s death(Mat 2:15). If they had fled to Egypt on the day of birth, and was away till Herod’s death; and even after his death came and only settled in Nazareth – how were they present at the Temple in Jerusalem for the circumcision on the 8th day after birth(Luk 2:21) and for the Purification after 40 days? (Luk 2:22, Lev 12:2-4).
Why did they offer a pair of turtledoves/pigeons when the Law asked that a lamb was to be sacrificed by a person who is able? If the wise men had given the gifts on the first day itself, they would have had enough money to buy a lamb instead of the turtledoves/pigeons which were a substitute only for people who could not afford a lamb(Lev 12:6-8).
This study is a small bit of information to understand the true account of the early years of our Messiah. Does it make a big difference to Biblical doctrine? I guess not. The importance in knowing this information, lies in the fact that the story and the pictures that are communicated to our children as well as new believers today, is Biblically inaccurate. The Wise Men were not present at the day of Yeshua’s birth. They came to Bethlehem almost 2 years after His birth possibly to the House that they were then living in. While celebration of “Christmas” or the “Birth of Christ” was never commanded, instituted or endorsed by Christ, the disciples or the writers of the New Testament books, it has now turned into a celebration where even the facts are changed and not known or understood. I hope this study has helped shine a bit of light on the events of Christ’s Birth and that in turn, it will help you understand that their are many misunderstood verses and events which are written in the Bible. And that most of the traditions that we have grown up with are biblicaly inaccurate.