This post may surprise or even shock you but that is if you don’t already know about it.
We are all familiar with the popular legend of how three men, often referred to as Kings, visited baby Jesus in the manger and presented him with gifts. No Nativity play is complete without those characters but really, they ought not to have been included in the first place because that event never took place. No, not the birth of Jesus, that is for another post. I was referring to what is commonly referred to as “The visit of the Magi”.
Firstly, the number of men who visited Joseph and Mary was never mentioned. There’s no documented evidence that they were three. They could have been only two or more. This is what the bible said, “… behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. (Mathew 2:1). Interestingly, historical evidence has shown that there’s no way three men could have made such a risky journey through deserts all by themselves. Even if they were three or even two they would have been accompanied by an army of servants and body-guards. This means that the picture we see on several Christmas cards of three men travelling in the middle of a desert with a bright star shining above them without an entourage in sight is a complete fallacy. They did present three gifts but the bible never said there were three of them.
Secondly, the visit by these men, which is an undisputed historical event, must have taken place several months after the birth of Jesus Christ. Again, this is exactly what the bible records, “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother…” (Mathew 2:11). This verse clearly shows two things, Jesus Christ was not a baby when the wise men visited him, he was a young child of about two years old and the visit did not take place at the manger where he was born but in a house Joseph and Mary moved into after Jesus was born in a manger.
The strongest indication that Jesus was about two years old at the time of the visit can be found in verse 16 of the second chapter in the book of Mathew, which reads thus, Then Herod,…, was exceedingly wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. (Mathew 2:16.)It is safe to assume that there’s no way Herod would have ordered a massacre of little children from two years old and under if the Wise Men gave him the impression that the child they sought was born just a couple of days earlier. It can also be implied from the last line of Mathew 2:16 that from Herod’s inquiries he figured out that the Wise Men set out from their base the day Jesus was born, when they saw the star and did not arrive in Bethlehem until two years later. “For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Mathew 2:2) This kind of confirms uncorroborated historical and geographical evidence that the journey from the east must have taken them about two years to make. Remember there were no cars or aeroplanes then.
However, in a modern world where Christmas has become a largely commercial affair the reaction expected to these revelations is, ‘frankly speaking, who cares?’