Q&A: The Magi and Jesus

The Magi and Jesus

Question

In Matthew 2:2-12, how many times did the wise men visit Jesus? It seems to me the answer is twice. First, they saw the star in the east and went and inquired as to where Jesus could be found. They went to worship Jesus. After a visit with Herod, he sent them to find Jesus and return and tell him so he could go and worship him. As they started out, the star reappeared and led them to Jesus. This time they worshiped him and gave him gifts. And returned a different way. My New Scofield NIV Bible States that the star re-appeared, and led them. The wise men were in the east when they first saw the star. Where was the star? Was it west of them?

Answer

It appears to my reading that they only visited once. The order of events would seem to be:
  1. Jesus was born.
  2. The magi saw the star.
  3. The magi journeyed to and arrived in Jerusalem.
  4. The magi inquired of Herod where the Messiah was to be born. The star had led them to the land of Israel and to the city of Jerusalem, but it had not led them to the specific location of Jesus. Thus, the magi needed the Jews to tell them where the Messiah was to be born in order to track him down.
  5. Herod questioned the magi as to the time when the star appeared because he did not yet know that the Messiah had been born, let alone when.
  6. Herod informed the magi that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. He also ordered them to find Jesus and to report back on his location.
  7. This time the star did lead them to the precise location of Jesus.
  8. The magi followed the star and found Jesus for the first and only time (the text does not specifically say that they found him in Bethlehem).
  9. The magi worshiped Jesus and presented him with gifts for the first and only time.
  10. The magi returned to their homes without reporting Jesus' location to Herod.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.