Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Wise Men and the Star! And China?

A very interesting piece of the Christmas story is the star that marked Jesus' birth.  Such a star should have raised the eyebrows of more people than a few magi!  A star of such significance should be marked in astronomy records.  Such a star should be recorded outside of the Bible, if it truly did exists!

Matthew 2:1-2 records that magi, wise men who saw a star in the east went to Jerusalem to find the one who was born king of the Jews.  They recognizes that the star in the sky was the one prophesied in Number 24:17 that would usher in a ruler for the Jews, one like no other before, who they recognized was also described by Micah 5:2 to be the shepherd of the people Israel.

The star the magi followed is recorded in Chinese astronomy. 
In Matthew's account, Herod had to ask the magi when the star appeared. Obviously, it wasn't in the sky anymore, and he had to confirm the time and the star they were referencing.  After talking to Herod, they had seen in the east went ahead of them to where the child, Jesus, was.  When they saw the star they were overjoyed.  So, they saw the star, recognized it fulfilled prophesy, went to find the king.  The star had disappeared, but reappeared for them to find Jesus, and they were overjoyed!

If such a star appeared to key off the magi to travel for months to see a new born king, wouldn't you think there would be records of it elsewhere in history, besides just the Bible?

Such records, appear in the Astronomy Records of the Book of the Han DynastyThese records place a star in the sky for 70 in 5 B.C.  Most experts place Jesus' birth at 5 to 4 B.C.  The Chinese then record another appearance of a star appearing in 4 B.C.    The time elapsed between the first star and the second star is about 13 months.  This would suggest that the magi were traveling for about one year, which fits with how long the travel for the magi would have taken if they had come from Babylon and Persia (who would have also known about the prophesies from their interactions with the Jews during the Babylonian exile).  This would also explain why Herod had all the young boys the age of two and under killed.

In conclusion, there is external evidence from Chinese astronomers to collaborate the Biblical accounts of the two appearances of the star.  The Chinese also recognized the star to be of great importance, even suggesting that signified the beginning of a new epoch, the beginning of new year, a new month, and a new day!

This information was found in Faith of our Fathers by Chan Kei Thong.   There is a link above to his book.  It contains the actual quotes from Astronomy Recrods of the Han Dynasty, which I only referenced. 

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