Friday, January 07, 2022

On Matthew's Magi

'TIS THE SEASON, EPIPHANY EDITION: So Who Were the Magi—AKA the Three Kings—Who Visited Jesus? (Candida Moss, Daily Beast via Yahoo News).

I am bored with the whole magi thing, but I suppose it's good to post on it once a year. According to Matthew 2 some "magi" (magoi) came to Judea to see the "king of the Jews," because they saw "his star in the east." Magos is a Greek spelling of a Persian term for a type of priest. This word, incidentally, is the basis for the English word "magic." They are not called kings, they don't have names, and the text does not say how many there were. People infer there were three because of the three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. There are later traditions and books about Matthew's magi which make them kings, assign them names, and claim there were up to twelve of them.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on Matthew's magi, see here and links, plus here and here.

While we're on the subject, past posts on the Star of Bethlehem are here and many links. There are many notions about what it may have been. I think it was a midrash on Numbers 24:17.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.