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The star of the Messiah

English > Fields of Research > Biblical Theology

P. Rüst (2007), an exposition of an apparent contradiction between Matthew's and Luke's acconts of the birth of Jesus, 6 p.;
http://www.aneste.ch/files/HisStar.pdf
Translated from the German original, P. Rüst (2005), "Der Stern des Messias", Predigt Flüehli, Schwarzenburg (Schweiz), 6 S.

- The bible does not know any "three holy kings, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar", but just wise men, literally magi, from the East. But they have nothing to do with magics. Presumably, they were Persian priests, scholars from the tribe of the Magians.

- In 593 BC, Daniel came to Babylon, where he later was made the chief prefect of the wise men. Under the Persians, he was made one of three governors at court. In summer, he resided with the king in Ekbatana in the highlands, ideal for astronomical observations. Israelite communities lived there from 621 BC at least up to New Testament times.

- According to
Matthew, the wise men asked in Jerusalem for the newborn king of the Jews, whose star they had seen. For the year of Jesus' birth, Luke's indications point to a possible range of 7 to 2 BC. Many astronomical events have been proposed for this star, e.g. conjunctions of Jupiter with Saturn or the fixed star Regulus, a comet, or a supernatural "star".

- By divine inspiration, Balaam had prophecied about the star of the Messiah. This prophecy was said to have been archived in a tower in Ekbatana, which Daniel had built, and then brought to Jerusalem. The wise men from the East could thus have known of the star of the Messiah.

- Why did they have to ask in Jerusalem where they would find the newborn king, if the star guided them? They had lost sight of it and were surprised when they saw it again. It went before them for some time, then suddenly stopped and stood above the house where the child was.

- After their visit they departed for their country, and in the same night, God ordered Joseph to immediately leave to go to Egypt with Mary and the child. So far Matthew.

- According to
Luke, Joseph had to go with Mary from Nazareth up to Bethlehem. There, Jesus was born, visited by the shepherds, and circumcised on the 8th day. As a first born son, he had to be presented on the 40th day in the temple in Jerusalem, with a ransom sacrifice. After that, the family returned to Nazareth.

-
Luke says Joseph and Mary went to Nazareth immediately after the presentation of Jesus in the temple. But Matthew says they immediately went to Egypt after the visit of the wise men, and after returning they explicitely did not go to Jerusalem, but to Nazareth.

- What's the solution of the geographical puzzle? The wise men did
not come to the manger in Bethlehem but to the house of Joseph in Nazareth, at least a few months after Jesus was born!

- In Jerusalem, the wise men expected that they had to go south to Bethlehem. They were surprised because the star now led them north to Nazareth. They were highly overjoyed when it suddenly stopped exactly over a specific house, because they recognized in this a clear sign from God.

- A planet or comet would not have behaved like this and could not indicate a single house; as experienced astronomers the wise men knew this. Was the star supernatural, like the pillar of fire in the wilderness?

- A large number of Old Testament prophecies pointed to the coming Messiah, and the wise men could know about them through Daniel. Many of these promises dated from even much earlier. From the beginning, God revealed his intention to be incarnated in the Messiah, to die on the cross for our salvation.

- With increasing specificity, God proclaimed through Adam, Jacob, Balaam, David, Isaiah, Micah, and many other prophets the victory over sin, the eternal king from Judah, star from Jacob, David's son and Lord, the Branch/Ascent from on high - Jesus Christ, the shining morning star.

Christmas crib, made by
Walter Pflugbeil, master carver
and instructor from the
Erzgebirge, a mountain range forming the border
between the German
land of Saxony in the north and
the Czech Republic in the south.
Each figurine is professionally custom-made, with characteristics desired by the customer.
A human figure may even be given features and expressions
derived from photographs.
(Photo: Hannes Grauwiller,
Christmas 2000)

And she gave birth
to her firstborn son
and wrapped him
in swaddling cloths
and laid him in a manger,
because there was
no place for them
in the inn.


(Luke 2:7)

Contents:

1. The wise men from the east

2. The star and its significance

3. The star led them to Jesus (Matthew 2)

4. In Bethlehem and Jerusalem (Luke 2)

5. In Egypt

6. The star led the wise men to Nazareth

7. The star of the promised redeemer

When apparent contradictions in the bible cannot be resolved, it stands to reason to question legendary traditions and traditional interpretations, even if these are many centuries old.

The original texts of the 66 canonical books of the bible have first priority for clarifying such questions, but extrabiblical findings may sometimes help to understand the problem.

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Last updated Okt 17 2011 | paraske@aneste.ch

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