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What is the Star of the wise men?
     Matt 2:1-21. There are two theories in regard to this episode in our Lord's infancy. The first theory is that the star which the wise men saw was a miraculous star beyond astronomical calculation, probably a meteor, and, having attracted their attention in their native country, it actually served as their guide to Palestine and "stood over where the young child was." Matt 2:9. This theory is in entire keeping with a literal meaning of the text, and is the one certain to occur to the ordinary reader. Nor need there be any objection on the score of improbability. Our Lord's birth was a most stupendous event. In honor of it the angelic host openly revealed themselves, and many circumstances remarkably conspired to render it possible. That the heavens should be laid under contribution and one of the heavenly bodies be the appointed, the silent leader of the magi, whose coming prophesied the in-gathering of the learning and the treasure of the Gentiles, was in itself a probable event. The earth felt the tread of his blessed feet; why should not the sky lend one of its jewels to light the path of his seekers? The second theory asserts that the "star" of the wise men was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, in the sign of Pisces, with the later addition of Mars and probably an extraordinary star of uncommon brilliancy. Jewish astrologers ascribed to this conjunction a special signification, and connected it with the birth of Moses and with the coming of the Messiah. This theory rests upon astronomical proof, and was the suggestion of Kepler (1571-1630), the eminent and devout astronomer, who on Oct. 10. 1604, observed a star of uncommon brilliancy enter the conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. This excited his interest, as it seemed to give an explanation of the star of the wise men. By careful calculation, he discovered that a similar conjunction had taken place three times, b.c. 7 or 6. This puts the first appearance of the star one or two years before the birth of Christ, and allows time for the journey of the magi from the far East. Kepler's calculation has been verified by modern astronomers - Schubert at Petersburg, Ideler and Encke at Berlin, and Pritchard at Greenwich - and is pronounced to be "as certain as any celestial phenomenon of ancient date." This is a remarkable verification of Scripture from an unexpected quarter. "The star of astrology has become a torch of chronology," as Ideler says. The magi, with their astrological ideas and widespread Messianic expectations, must have been attracted by such a constellation in the highest degree. Divine Providence usually acts through natural agencies and adapts revelation to the capacity, and even the weakness, of men. But if we take this theory, it is necessary to give the description of Matthew a liberal construction, remembering that the Bible, in alluding to astronomical phenomena, uses popular, not scientific, language, derived from their appearance to our eye, as we all now speak of the rising and setting sun, moon, and stars.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'star of the wise men' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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