The Birth of Jesus
- Warlocks and Astrology
Matthew 2:2 and 2:9 describes how the Magi (this word forms the basis of
the modern word for magician [See shmt 22.18, Dv 18.10]) followed a star
that they believed signaled the birth of the king of the Jews. The passage
is somewhat confusing at this point. They saw the star in the east, and
yet they traveled west to Jerusalem, while apparently following the star.
This passage has triggered much speculation as to the exact nature of the object that they
were following. If the "star" could be identified, then the time of Jesus'
birth could be calculated by astronomical observations, perhaps giving an
exact year, month and perhaps even day.
Some believe that it was a super-nova (an exploding star). But the only
super-novae recorded by ancient sources were at 134 BCE and 173 CE. Others
believe that it was a comet. There were comets recorded in 17, 5 & 4 BCE
and 66 CE. However, a comet is not a likely candidate, because they were
normally considered harbingers of doom by astrologers.
Still others look for an unusual configuration of planets in the sky. There
was a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn during 7 BCE, when the two
planets passed each other three times in Pisces; but the passage in Matthew
refers to a star, not an arrangement of planets.
No consensus has been reached as to the nature of the heavenly body that
guided the Magi. It seems most unlikely that the "star" was a either a super-nova,
comet or arrangement of planets. Matthew 2:9 describes how the star stopped
over the place in Bethlehem where the child was. Since Bethlehem was a built-up
area, the "star" could only have been a few hundred feet above ground level
in order to pinpoint a specific building where Jesus was living. If it were
a nova, comet or collection of planets, it would not have stopped over a
building; it would have risen in the east and set in the west.
Residents of 1st century Palestine believed in a three-part universe: a
flat earth, a domed sky over the earth, and heaven above the dome of the
sky. In such a universe, it would have been reasonable for them to assume
that God hung out a star from heaven to indicate the location of Jesus'
birth. But the universe is not really built like that. The sun and planets
are tens or hundreds of millions of miles from earth; the stars are dozens
of light-years and more away. (1 light-year is the distance that light,
at 186,000 miles a second travels in one year.) Stars simply cannot pinpoint
a place on earth.