Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. At about that time some astrologers from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in far-off eastern lands and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
I have been looking at the clear night sky lately, and the stars and planets have been especially brilliant. The one advantage of winter is the clarity of the sky due to the cold temperatures and relative lack of clouds and haze. I was really taken aback the other evening with the brightness of Jupiter.
Then I happened to hear a podcast which discussed a possible explanation of the Christmas star. That same star the Magi were tracking when they sought the newborn ruler whom they believe the star portended.
The theory put forth by this scholar was that on the morning of April 17, in 6 B.C. an unusual alignment of the planet Jupiter, rising early in the morning, before sunrise in the eastern sky, caused the Magi to follow this omen. Since it arose in the astrological house of Aries, it caused them to believe that this omen meant that a significant king would be born in Judea. Judea evidently was associated with the astrological house of Aries.
It is interesting to note that these Magi were astrologers from perhaps Mesopotamia or Babylonia. They were skilled in the arts of astrology, and when they determined that this new king would be born in Judea, they headed to Jerusalem to inquire of the current king about this amazing birth.
Jews were prohibited from practicing the astrological arts, so Herod, and the other Jewish inhabitants were unaware of the significance that the pagan world associated with this sign. Of course, Herod wanted to hear about a king who might supplant him. Herod wanted names and addresses so that he could destroy this usurper king!
The mind-blower for me was that on December 19 of that year, Jupiter seemed to stand still in the sky. It shone brightly because of a confluence with the moon, and it seemed to just stand still. There is a technological reason for this phenomenon- Jupiter did not stand still. However, it appeared to stand still relative to the position of the earth in its course around the sun relative to Jupiter at that point.
Now this theory is just that- a theory. However, it does have some scientific backing and it could have been an explanation of the Christmas star followed by those wise men from the east.
Whether this theory flies or not, there are some interesting aspects to it. The Judeans would have been clueless about the astrological significance of this momentous event, but the rest of the world may have seen something that the Jews of the time did not.
A new King was being born.
Prayer: Lord, you give us wonderful gifts that we sometimes fail to see, Amen