Christmas Fun Fact 2013

Since it is the Friday before Christmas I figured I would share a small little interesting bit about the Christmas story that I find interesting and really overlooked.  For those of you who do not know, the part about the “Three Wise Men” or “Three Kings of Orient” has always fascinated me and I hope you find this fun fact as delightful as I do!

To start off with, the Magi are only mentioned once in the Bible.  They only appear in the Book of Matthew.  No other book.  Not in Mark.  Not in Luke.  Not in John.  It says that they came from the East.  This says a lot about them.  I mean a lot!  You can gain a lot of information about them based on this one little phrase. Back then if you were in the area around Judea if you said someone was “from the East” it meant that they were from the Persian Empire.  The national religion of the Persian Empire was Zoroastrianism and the priest of that religion are called Magi.  Wise men.  They were never king, only priests.  This is very important and rather strange for most people today since Zoroastrianism in not practiced widely and most people that do live in Iran and Iraq. 

Saying that there were only three of them seems a bit odd.  It never says in Matthew how many there were.  It uses the word “they”.  In the Zoroastrian tradition, at that time, there would have been twelve of them visiting.  Why twelve?  For a newborn king to receive a visit from twelve Magi was considered a blessing especially since three of the gifts that were brought were gold, frankincense and myrrh.  These gifts were the gifts that would be given to kings.  Gold was given to kings to bring wealth.  Frankincense is a perfume to love.  Myrrh is an anointing oil said to bring good health and luck.  People in the time that the Gospels were written would have understood this reference and saw the great significance to it.  It was such an important event that Zoroastrian priests traveled all the way from the Persian Empire to Judea to visit a Jewish baby.

I find it strange, given that they were obviously Persian, that people say that they are from the Orient.  Being from the Orient would mean that they were from the area of Indo-China.  Since they probably traveled by caravan it would have taken them quite a while to reach the area of Judea and it certainly would probably have taken then well over a couple of years unless they were riding to battle which they were not.

So, there you have it.  The “Three Wise Men” or “Three Kings of Orient” should probably be more correctly called the Twelve Zoroastrian Priests from the Persian Empire.  Something tells me that that they probably will not change the song.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Stay Lovely and Beautiful!