Commentaries
English
Matthew
  
3. Visit and Worship of the Magi
(Matthew 2:1-11)
1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,2saying, "Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him." (See Numbers24:17)


It was a mark of humiliation put upon the Lord Jesus that, though he was the "desire of all nations", his coming into the world was little observed and taken notice of; his birth was obscure and not regarded. He emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation. If the Son of God must be brought into the world, one must justly expect that he should be received with all the ceremony, glorification and respect possible. Crowns and scepters should immediately have been laid at his feet, and the kings and princes of the world should have been his humble servants. The Jew expected a Messiah such as this but we see little of this. He "came into the world, and the world did not know him" and "he came to his own, and his own did not receive him" (John 1:9-11).
Beginning from the captivity of the Jews into Mesopotamia in 587 BC, the knowledge of God and the prophecy about the sending of the Son of David into the world to make peace reached the nations of the east. Those nations did not forget the character of Daniel, the talented prophet, who had served long under the ruling of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, and who had an effective impression on the destiny of this nation.
Some Jews might have studied the secrets of the universe at the astrological school near Babylon at the hands of the Chaldaeans. They watched how Saturn began to get close to Jupiter. On May, 29 of the year 7 BC, the two planets appeared as one big star in the constellation of Pisces; and whereas those astrologers believed that this constellation indicated the middle land, that Saturn symbolized the protection of the Jews, and that Jupiter was the star of the kings. Therefore they watched these planets, believing at that moment Christ, the king of the Jews and Lord of the universe, was born.
The astrologers came from the east into Jerusalem, in further quest of the king of the Jews. They traveled to Jerusalem because it was the mother-city. They might have said, "If such a king be born, we shall hear of him shortly in our own country, and it will be time enough then to pay our homage to him." But so impatient were they to be better acquainted with him, that they took a long journey on purpose to inquire after him.
We can learn from the wise men that those who truly desire to know Christ, will not regard pains or perils in seeking after him. When we follow through to know the Lord, we shall certainly find him and know him.
The astrologers of the Jews could compute beforehand that the conjunction of those two planets, the biggest planets of our solar system, would take place twice during that year and that both planets would appear as a shining star. They often talked about this unique event and they decided to send a mission from their astrological school to Jerusalem to be there at the time of the second conjunction of both planets on the 3rd of October, and also to stay there at the time of the third conjunction on the 3rd of December, 7 BC. The mission would check and watch where and how the new king of the Jews would be born. Those travelers did not fear the trouble of traveling in hot summer. They set out from the Euphrates to Syria alongside with the rivers Orontes and Litany to the south until they arrived at Jordan. Then they climbed the top of the Jewish desert, where Jerusalem crowns the heads of the mountains, to watch the king who would change the world.
The wise men did not ask whether there was such a king born since they were sure of that, speaking so strongly of it with assurance in their hearts that they asked, "Where is he born?"
They thought everyone would have a ready answer to their question, expecting to find all Jerusalem worshipping at the feet of this new king. They went from door to door with this question, and no man could give them the answer. Perhaps more than we are aware of, the same gross ignorance exists in the world, and even in some churches, today. Many that we think should direct us to Christ are themselves strangers to him.
The birth announcement of Christ was delivered to the Jewish shepherds by an angel and to the Gentile philosophers by a star. God spoke to the shepherds in their own language and to the Gentiles in a way they were best acquainted with. God's way of communicating is not limited.

Prayer
O Mighty God, I thank you because you are Lord of the stars and the sun. You created the worlds and they are yours. You speak to pagans in dreams and visions and you gave the world your incarnate word that we might know your will. Please create in me the same longing to see your Son that was found in the wise men who did not grow weary for the sake of meeting him.
Question
When did the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter take place for the first time during that period?