Day 18- “We Three Kings”: Who Were The Wise Men From the East?

The sun beat down on them by day, and they slept under a canopy of stars by night.  They had been travelling the International Highway for many weeks in a caravan complete with armed guards to protect the precious treasures they carried with them.  They were foreign men, intelligent and gifted, who had risen to positions of prominence in the land of their captivity. These men had walked the most difficult line imaginable, they had served their captive nation of Persia, or Parthia, well without ever losing their identity in the process.  They still read the scriptures, and still served the God of their father Abraham.

They still watched for the signs.

"Michael Jackson" the camel in Bethlehem
“Michael Jackson” the camel in Bethlehem

We know there was a remnant return after the children of Israel were exiled to Babylon but we rarely give thought to those who remained behind in Persian, or Parthia as it was named by the first century.  This famous caravan of wise men from the east seems to indicate a faithful Jewish presence remained there serving in the spirit of Daniel long after the remnant returns.The Greek word “magi” is “magoi”- magic, or astrologers.  Magic and astrology were practices strictly forbidden in scripture. Dr. James Martin suggests another alternative which points to a Jewish population in Parthia.  Dr. Martin argues these men are quite possibly the Hebrew word “rahv-mahg”- the Jewish wise men of Babylon. (Jeremiah 39:3,13) Daniel 2:48 tells us Daniel was placed over these “wise men” of Babylon.

If so, these men were serving, and watching when the time came for Messiah to be born.  Relations between Parthia and Jerusalem had a complicated history. It sees the Parthian rulers welcomes the news the true King of the Jews had been born and sent some of the Jewish faithful as official emissaries bearing costly gifts to welcome the new king.

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