The wise men: a mixture of truth and fantasy

Since we were children we were taught about "the three wise men" and they told us that they were called Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar. They told us that they had been present together with the shepherds in the manger, where they worshiped and brought the child three gifts, consisting of gold, incense and myrrh. They explained to us that one was black, another white and the other half yellow, and that they were riding a horse, a camel and an elephant. And they told us that since then they go all over the world, giving gifts to all the children, so the little ones write a letter to them in the January 5, where they list all their wishes. It seemed like a miracle to see those same gifts in the 6 room in January, where we also found our tired parents sleeping on the floor.

The 6 gifts of January we were able to explain later, after which our parents seemed suddenly relieved and rejuvenated and never tired again, or at least for other things. But above all else, how far does reality and how far the legend go? What things are done, what is reported in BibleAnd what is the fruit only of the tradition and imagination of men?

Before we dare to pass it on to our own children, we may want to review this story for ourselves.
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The original source of the story of the wise men

In principle, the original source of the story of the wise men is Bible, so it should be our source to consult in this regard. In fact, the story of the wise men is unique, because there is only one account of them in Bible, and is the one found in the second chapter of Matthew (and only Matthew 2: 1-12, to be exact).

What the Bible tells us about the "wise men"

Essentially, some time after the birth of Jesus, some visitors came from the east to Jerusalem and came directly to the king's palace Herod the Great asking where the king of the Jews had just been born. As Herod believed that the only possible "king of the Jews" was he, he was filled with jealousy and devised a strategy. After consulting the priests and knowing that there were prophecies that pointed to the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem, he sent the visitors there asking them to let him know as soon as they found the child to worship him, although what he really wanted was to kill him. The visitors, who are described as "magicians", were guided by a star to the home of Joseph and Mary, where they found the child and worshiped him, giving him gold, incense and myrrh, all very valuable materials. Being warned by revelation, they did not return with Herod, but went another way.

Up to that point what Bible Tells us about the wise men. Let's see what we can extract from this same story.

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The magicians seek Jesus

Were the wise men present at the birth of Jesus?

First of all, were the "wizards" and the shepherds together in the stable or cave where Jesus was born? The story of the shepherds is found only in the Gospel of Luke 2: 8-20, which does not mention other visitors present after the birth of Jesus.

  • In the story of the visit of the magicians in Matthew, the family of Jesus is no longer in a cave or stable, but they are already located in a house (Matthew 2: 11).
  • On the other hand, the Greek term used to designate Jesus already points to child and not as a baby.
  • Herod, having informed himself of the probable date of the child's birth, orders to kill all the children of two years and younger (Matthew 2: 16).

Jesus, then, must have been close to two years of age at the time of the magicians' visit. The "wise men" were never present in the stable.

Where were the wise men from?

Although we do not know exactly where the wise men came from, Bible it only says that they came "from the east". Since they came together there is no reason to assign them more than one provenance. It is very probable that they came from Persia, the present Iran, where there was a priestly caste known as the "Maggi".

What animals did the wise men ride?

The Bible it does not indicate at any time the animals that the wise men rode. The idea that they rode a camel, a horse and an elephant, as well as pointing out different skin colors, aims to assign them different origins. But we have already seen that, in reality, there is no biblical basis for that assumption.

Were kings kings kings?

The story of Matthew never says they were kings. The idea that they were kings was derived from a forced attempt to reconcile the passage from Matthew 2: 1-12 with the prophecy found in Isaiah 60: 3. But Bible It does not support that interpretation or say that these visitors were kings.

Were three the wise men?

The book of Matthew does not indicate the number of visitors, which may as well have been many as few. The website of Starmedia It includes a very clear note that explains why it has been popularly believed that there were three:

"There is little that Matthew says about them. Particularly it does not indicate the specific number of its components, nor its origin. It seems that, just because the Gospel account indicated that they brought three gifts (gold, incense and myrrh), it was assumed that there were three characters.

The same site indicates that they have not always been taken as three in popular beliefs:

"Although also, at some point, different traditions have indicated that it was two, four, seven and even twelve. Some stories tell that in addition to these three wise men, there was a fourth. In some legends it is given the name of Artabán. This magician king does not have a biblical foundation.

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The order of Jesus' childhood events

"According to the Armenians, there were twelve, so they are assigned twelve different names. These names are also not mentioned in Bible".

What were the names of the wise men?

"The Gospels only speak of" magicians ". Nowhere are their names indicated, nor that they be kings, nor that they be three (a number that is possibly due to the amount of gifts offered). These beliefs were added several centuries later and have remained in the popular tradition. " (Wikipedia, under the entry "Wise Men")


I hope I have provided you with enough information for some quick answers about frequently asked questions that you can share with your friends and, above all, with your own family. But if you are curious people and want to know more in detail about the wise men, where they came from, what the LDS commentators have written about them, I recommend the article that is the older brother of this, "The wise men who were not kings or magicians: the story according to the Bible" There you can find out more about their origin and what they really were according to the history of Bible. And I hope that Jesus Christ will bring you all the good that you have asked for in your prayers and begin the year full of beautiful and abundant purposes, according to the abundance of your faith.

Originally posted 2018-01-05 05: 30: 16.