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The symbolic and prophetic power of the three gifts given to Jesus by the Babylonian astronomers

A couple of thoughts on the age of Jesus when the Astronomers from Babylonia finally located him in Matthew 2:11. Most suggest that Jesus was around two years old, and toddling around and speaking when they discovered him for the first time, but plausible arguments exist that suggest the wise-men found him ranging from when He was still a baby (a few weeks after the shepherds) all the way to when he was as old as 4 or 5 years old.

What we know with with reasonable certainty is that the wise men definitely arrived at a later time than what most people think, and although arguments are still made by some that they DID find him very soon after the shepherds, personally, I tend to think it was more than two years after His birth in the manger.

Here are some thoughts:

1) Herod choosing to kill all toddlers two and under does not necessarily give us the exact age of Jesus. Herod assumed He was younger than two, but He could have been older than two years of age in several plausible scenarios. It is entirely possible that the timing of Herod was deliberately skewed by the will of the Holy Spirit, as it was based on his extrapolations taken from limited inquiry with visiting astrologers and primarily focussed upon the moment they reported to have first seen the special star during their astronomical observations (Matthew 2:7).

2) Assuming the star did appear on precisely the night of His birth... How long might the astrologers have gone without noticing the star? Had God hidden the star from them for a period of time and deliberately revealed it in a way to throw wicked men off his trail a few years later? Had the star been there for only a few days when the Wise Men of Babylonia first noticed, or could it have been there for an entire year until God unveiled it (making Christ older than two by the time they found Him)?

3) The Babylonian astrologer's understanding of the birth of the Messiah was more likely tethered to a 600 year old prophecy from the Prophet Daniel (see Daniel 2:48) which had already declared the calendar of events with remarkable precision, so it could be argued that they might have known the general time of His birth without the sighting of a particular star (see Daniel 9:24-26), yet the remarkable star's appearance served as a bombastic confirmation of what they already had assumed - like icing on a cake.

4) It is impossible to determine with any precision how much time elapsed between the wise men's first meeting with Herod (see Matthew 2:2) and when they finally discovered the exact location of Mary and Joseph's home where they saw Jesus with their own eyes, in Matthew 2:11. Could six months have passed between verse 2 and verse 11? Could another year have passed between them? We really don't know.

5) What we do know is that in verse 10 they became excited to see the star very clearly once again. This might suggest that the star had not always remained visible across the time they had invested in an 800 mile journey in a slow caravan (assuming they were, in fact, from Babylonia). More fascinating, still, is the possibility that when the Astrologers found Jesus He may have been living in Nazareth and not in Bethlehem as is most often assumed.

6) Some argue that Joseph purchased a home after Mary gave birth in Bethlehem and remained there, in Bethlehem, until the encounter with the Wise Men recorded in Matthew Chapter Two. Others give evidence that Joseph moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth as soon as she was able to travel again, and the Wise Men had to follow a star to a completely different city never really associated with messianic prophecies regarding His birth - Nazareth.

7) What is most important, I think, is the symbolic and prophetic power of the three gifts that these astronomers gave to what was likely a walking, talking little boy who might have responded to his gifts like my youngest son would have responded: "What am I supposed to do with those, mom?"

Gold was given to Him as a diplomatic expression as to a King. (Little boys don't have much interest in heavy configurations of gold).

Frankincense was given to Him as a theological expression as to an immortal God. (Little boys can't play with Frankincense).

Myrrh was given to Him as a prophetic expression as to a mortal who would die. (Little boys aren't involved with the eastern process of embalming the dead).

The wise men, whoever they were and however long it took them to find Jesus... were men of extraordinary faith, perserverance and obedience.


As we enter the Christmas season, it’s important to remember the reason for the season… and that is the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior. As a tradition symbolizing the gifts the wisemen brought Jesus, we as Christians give gifts to those we love.

Here’s some ideas of gifts that will also help support what we are doing here at The GateKeepers.

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And then, finally, if you’d like to simply support what we are doing here with The GateKeepers, you could simply send us a donation. We are working hard to expand our reach and get the message of the Gospel out to as many people as possible. As a thank you for any donation over $20, we’ll send you a copy of Church & State: How the Left Used the Church to Conquer America.

We are truly grateful for your support and hope that these gift suggestions are a help to you. By taking advantage of any of these offers, you are not only giving your friends and family an amazing gift, but supporting us here at The GateKeepers. Thank you… and Merry Christmas!

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