The Hebrew Tanakh (the Old Testament) tells us that God speaks to usthrough the ‘stars’ — for example:
Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Psalm 19 (New International Version) For the director of music. A psalm of David. 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge
What that apparently means is that the symbolic names of these ‘stars’ — and their relative movement – tell us about reality, and foretell the future
And today – through an inexpensive astronomy program — we can ‘read’ those old stories via our own laptops!
Look up “Starry Night”
According to the Tanakh, the birth of the Jewish Messiah was predicted in the stars: Num 24:17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth
And there was, indeed, a star out of Jacob — The Star of Bethlehem”
Actually, the ‘star’ was at most a 3 hour event that would have appeared to be the brightest star that anyone alive had ever seen…
And, to the Magi of Babylon (the likely “wisemen” of Matthew), this star would have appeared on the horizon over Israel – “Israel,” according to the Tanakh, being the name that God had given to Jacob …
This 3 hour ‘star’ on the evening of June 17, 2 BC was the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus (the two brightest stars in the sky), and their conjunction was so close (.01 degrees) as to appear as only one star to the naked eye
That this ’star’ existed for no more than 3 hours should account for the lack of historical and rational support for the star…
In addition, Jupiter and Venus would have been the appropriate God and Goddess parents for the prophesied Messiah
And this was their conjunction
Mat 2:1– Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Mat 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east (where they were coming from), and are come to worship him.
From historians of the day, we know that there were, in fact, “schools” of “Magi,” (the “wise men”) and a particularly impressive school in Babylon (the East)
The Magi were astrologer/astronomers.
They studied the stars
The Magi had been studying the stars for millennia and knew the rhythms (and therefor, future) of the stars
By knowing the future of the stars, the Magi believed that they also knew the future of humanity…
These ”Wisemen” of Babylon would have been followers of Daniel — the kidnapped Israeli — who 500 years previously had predicted the coming of the Messiah to Jerusalem as ‘King’ sometime in what we would now call 33 AD
These 500 years would have ended about 34 years after the star of Bethlehem…
So, the Magi in Babylon would have been expecting the star, would have made the necessary arrangements, saddled up and followed Jupiter (again, one of the stars that made up the conjunction) and headed west
No telling exactly how long all that would have taken – but considering it to be a 700-mile trip, they should have arrived in Jerusalem around the end of 2BC…
Mat 2:9 when they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
Mat 2:10 when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
The Magi would have exited Jerusalem through the Essene Gate — which opened directly onto the road to Bethlehem.
Leaving through the Essene gate at about 4:45 AM on December 25, they would have found Jupiter directly over the road…
Not only that, but the road to Bethlehem was about 6 miles long, and gradually turned about 20 degrees to the west (see The McMillan Bible Atlas) — and if the trip had taken about an hour (which would have been likely going by horse or camel), Jupiter (also moving 20 degrees to the west) would have stayed over the road the entire trip to Bethlehem!
Not only that, but on December 25 that year, Jupiter would have stopped over Bethlehem…
Stars appear to constantly move due to the earth’s rotation
Due to something called “retrograde motion,” planets appear to stop moving for s short time every once in awhile
Early in the morning of Dec 25, 2 BC, to the Magi approaching from the east, Jupiter would have appeared to stopover Bethlehem
And, the Magi would have delivered their gifts to the Baby Jesus (now 6 month old) on December 25, 2BC
The first Christmas
So, while Jesus was probably born on 17 June, He probably received his gifts on 25 December