Created: Monday, 24 June 2013 Last Updated: Saturday, 31 August 2013


1. -            Before the story of the wise men (Mt 2, 2-11) several questions arise: is it a simple story?; is it only a symbol according to which Jesus would be the star of Jacob?; are we confronting a sign, it is to say, something that really took place and that has a meaning?, . is it a catechesis?, have we seen his star?, do we go from signal to signal and asking? Several interpretations are given to the phenomenon of the star: a comet, a new star, a miraculous orb, a triple conjunction.  Special attention deserves this last supposition due to several motives.
2. -  The astronomer J. Kepler elaborated this hypothesis: triple conjunction (it was repeated three times), extraordinarily rare, of the planets Jupiter and Saturn on the Pisces’ constellation (De Iesu Christy nostri servatoris vero anno natalitatis, Frankfurt). In the year 7 B.C. the same phenomenon took place and was particularly luminous. The conjunction appeared on the 12th of April and it was repeated three times, with culmination points on the 29th of May, the 3rd of October and the 4th of December. According to this, Christ was born the year 7 B.C.. In a planetarium, like the one in Madrid, and in a computer (program Skymap) it is possible to reproduce the astronomic phenomenon of the year 7. R Henning in Düsseldorf carried this out during the years 1933 – 1937. The national-socialist headquarters of his district forbade it in 1938 and the planetarium projector was destroyed in a bombardment the 23rd of  April 1944.
3. -            The phenomenon could coincide with the main Jewish feasts of peregrination to Jerusalem  (Pasch and Pentecost in April/May, and the feast of the Tents in April, May and September/October) “Three times a year all men shall present themselves before Yahweh, your God, in the place chosen by Him: on the feast of the unleavened Bread, on the feast of the Weeks and on the feast of the Tents. And no one shall present before the Lord empty-handed, but each one will offer in proportion to what he has” (Dt 16, 16 – 17). In the Acts of the Apostles (2, 1 – 11) we find a peregrination feast, that of Pentecost. The trip could last a month and a half at that time, following the commercial routes (upward the Euphrates or through the dessert)
4. - The celebration of  Christ’s birth on the 25th of December (from the IV century) seems an answer to a Christianisation of the roman feast of the sun, that was celebrated in the winter solstice. Likewise, a Christian calendar established by the monk Dionysus 500 years afterwards, contains a computation error ( 7 years). Herod died on the year 4 b. C. As far as the census is concerned (Lk 2, 1-2), according to the Monumentum Ancyranum (from Ancyra, to day’s Ankara), Augustus ordered three times to carry out the census of the roman citizens.
5. - We may ascertain that the wise men (wise, astronomers) were, like prophet Daniel (Dn 4,6), Jews of the Diaspora, no gentiles. Only Jewish believers could perceive the signal that marked their way to Jerusalem. For any other people it was only an additional phenomenon. The wise men perceived it in his job like a signal, a signal coming from the heaven: “Heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps 19, 2), On 1925 a wood block in cuneiform characters was made known by Schnabel in 1925 (Zeitschr.f.Assyriologie, vol.2 n. F., 66), what is now in the state museum of Berlin, reveals that the conjunction was observed in the astronomy school of Sipper, ancient city of Babylon. Besides, at the time of Jesus there was an important Jewish colony in Mesopotamia.
6. -            The wise men arrived asking: “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw the rising of his star in the east and we have come to honour him”. The worship attitude, only afterwards is understood, in the light of the Pasch, for the wise men it would only be an acknowledgment and respect gesture. (see Is 60, 1-6; Ps 72), The wise men question disturbed Herod, the foreign king (and usurper) placed by the Romans. Certainly, the king of the Jews birth has not taken place in his home, but in other place
7. -  Herod “called a meeting of all high-ranking priests and experts of the Law and asked them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him: In the town of Bethlehem in Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote (Miq 5,1) …. So Herod called the wise men to a private meeting and gathered more information about the appearance of the star. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, telling them: “Go and get precise information about that child. As soon as you find him, report to me so that I also may go and honour him” (Mt 2, 4-6) The wise men go from signal to signal asking. They embrace the signals and, also the information they receive from diverse sources but always with discernment.

8. -             The wise men set out to Bethlehem and the signal again appears: “The wise men were overjoyed on seeing the star again (Mt 2,10).. Since Bethlehem is to the south of Jerusalem (8 kms), the new conjunction is before and over them. “They went into the house; they saw the child with Mary his mother, they knelt and worshipped him; they opened their bags and offered him their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. In a dream they were warned not to go back to Herod, so they returned to their home country by another way. (2, 11-12). See Jupiter and Saturn (Bethlehem star) going to the South (12th November year 7 b. C.)
9. -            At the end of the first century, Jewish historian Josephus talks about a very alive messianic movement in the year 6 b.C., indicating that Herod punished with drastic measures to all those expressing their hope in the liberation of the Jewish people from the roman domination (Jewish antiquities, XVII, 44 and follow on). He also talks about the popular rumour saying that God had decided to finish Herod´s domination, since a divine signal had announced the arrival of a national Jew leader (Jewish war, I, 17; see Is 9, 1-6; Lagrange, L´evangile selon S. Mathieu, Pars, 1927) Pagan writer Macrobius, about the year 400 A.D., cites Augustus allusion to his contemporary Herod who had ordered to kill all children two years old and under (Saturnalia, V, 2).
10.- Jewish wise man Maimonides wrote about year 1170 A.D. that the Jews were convinced that the Messiah would appear when Saturn and Jupiter conjunction would take place under the sign of Pisces. Simeon, head of the big Jewish uprising against roman domination the years 132 – 135 A.D., was called Bar Kochba (Son of the Star) in a clear allusion to the sentence: “Jacob’s star is coming forth” (Num 24, 17).
11. -            Saint Luke writes the same event in a different manner. He does not talk about magicians: the word had (and still has) negative connotations. He talks about angels, God’s messengers, and shepherds, camping in the countryside, keeping watch over their flocks by night: An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the Glory of the Lord surrounded them with its light …. The angel said to them: don’t be afraid, I am here to give you good news, great joy for all the people. Today a Saviour has been born to you in David’s town; he is the Messiah and the Lord. Let this be a sign to you : you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Just then many more angels of the celestial armies praying God and saying Glory to God in the highest surrounded the angel”  (Lk 2, 8 – 14; see Ps 29; Ez 1; Hb 1,6). The celestial armies are – according to the antique men – the stars, arranged in a large number in the sky tracing their orbits, but also, the angels who moves them (Stöger).
12. - The shepherds “related what they have been told about the child” (Lk 2, 17). When the purification days were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Simeon went to the temple. Although Jesus mystery overcame him, he was conscious of being before the Messiah (2, 29-32).  His parents “were admired of what was told about him”.(2, 33; see 2,19). Psalm 110 acquires a special meaning: “Yours is royal dignity from the day you were born in holy majesty; from the womb of the dawn, like dew, I have begotten you”. (Ps 110,3).
* Dialogue: Have we seen his star?, do we go from signal to signal and asking?