· At first glance, the “Star of Bethlehem” story seems absurd.
· How could a star stop — and remain over one town?
· And why didn’t anyone but the magi see it?
· In the 17th century, Johannes Kepler (the Christian astronomer and mathematician known for the laws of planetary motion) — was able to determine the historical position of the different heavenly bodies … whenever · But he couldn’t find anything that could have been considered the star of Bethlehem
· And these days, computerized astronomy programs following Kepler’s formulas can show us exactly what the stars looked like back then, in seconds — why haven’t modern astronomers found it?
· But someone else did!
· It took a Christian lawyer out of Texas, developing his own Christmas home lighting scheme, to figure it out — and you can get the whole story at Watch the Star of Bethlehem – Bing video
· And these days, you can actually find the star yourself!
· After loading some (inexpensive) astronomy software into my laptop, and studying the stars of the intertestamental period, I came to believe that there really was a Star of Bethlehem and Matthew knew exactly what he was talking about…
· 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, and are come to worship him.
· So first of all, 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 mankind…
· They believed that God spoke to them through the stars
· So far, so good
· But, why would Magi from the East want to worship the King of the Jews?
· Well — it so happens that in about 460 BC, Daniel — the kidnapped Israelite and accepted prophet — was made chief prefect over the Magi of Babylon
· Daniel would have been trained in Judaism and would have instructed his Magi accordingly
· The Hebrew “Tanakh” (the Christian “Old Testament”) hadn’t been written yet, but Daniel would have known about an earlier incident in which a noted sorcerer (Balaam) of an enemy king was told to place a curse on the Israelites escaping from Egypt
· But according to Judaic beliefs, God wouldn’t allow Balaam to curse the Israelites — and had Balaam praise and bless them instead
· Within his oracles, Balaam also predicted the coming Jewish Messiah
· Numbers 24:17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob (Israel), and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel…
· Anyway, in 455 BC, Daniel predicted that the Jewish Messiah would come to Jerusalem in about 500 years
· Modern calculations conclude that Jesus, most likely, came to Jerusalem as “King of the Jews” on March 30, 33 AD when he was 33 years old — i.e., exactly when Daniel predicted (note that there was no zero AD and born in June of 2 BC, Jesus would not yet be 34)
· Daniel’s prediction was made in a kind of code used in Judaism, but by one translation, this would be exactly 173,880 days, and according to the above calculations, the very day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem, as King of the Jews, on the back of a young donkey
· From Microsoft Bing: Daniel prophesied that the Messiah would arrive in Jerusalem in 173, 880 Days after the order to rebuild was issued. This is shown thus: 69 “weeks” = 483 years (69 times 7) 483 years times 360 days (The Jewish years of that time) = 173, 880 days. 2. The ACTUAL DATE of the decree was MARCH 14, 445 B.C.
· And consequently, if there were a star signaling the Messiah’s birth, it would have appeared in 2 BC — and from Babylon, it would have appeard over Israel
· Anyway, it makes sense that about 450 years after Daniel’s prophecy the ‘star’ would have been on the minds of Magi from Babylon
· And, they would have been looking for a special star over Israel
· They would have found it in the early evening of 6/17/2BC right on the horizon over Israel
· For 15-minutes on 6/17/2BC, the .01-degree conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, on the horizon over Israel (as seen from Babylon) would have been the brightest ‘star’ that anyone (living) had ever seen — and caused by the conjunction of the planets named for the mother and father of the Gods….
· So, why didn’t Kepler find the star?
· It turns out that the book of Kepler’s time that provided Jewish history was written by Flavius Josephus back in the first century AD
· There happen to be two versions of this book
· All copies of one version were printed before 1544 AD — all copies of the other version were printed after 1544
· (It so happens that the Guttenberg press was invented in 1450)
· In the 17th century, Kepler used the second version in trying to determine the time of Jesus’ birth
· He did that by using the date of Herod’s death — according to the Christian Bible Herod had died shortly after the birth of Jesus…
· The second version of the book by Josephus had Herod dying in 4 BC, whereas the first version had Herod dying in the 1 BC — so Kepler might have been looking for the Star of Bethlehem within the wrong years…
· And then — modern astronomers had at least three reasons for missing the “star”: the math would not have predicted an “abnormal” star, the ‘star’ wasn’t a real “star,” and it lasted for only 15 minutes
· So beginning in 3 BC, the Magi in Babylon must have been looking for the star
· On June 17, 2 BC they found the star
· They made the necessary arrangements, saddled up and followed Jupiter (it being the planet representing the King of the Gods, and half the conjunction making up the “Star of Bethlehem”) as Jupiter rose in the east – and, headed west
· No telling how long all that would have taken – but considering it to be a 700-mile trip, the Magi might well have arrived in Jerusalem sometime in December of 2BC
· Mat 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
· 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 onto the road to Bethlehem.
· Leaving, with their gifts, through the Essene gate at about 4:45 AM on December 25 (which would explain the dating of Christmas — they were bringing gifts), they would have seen Jupiter directly over the road to Bethlehem…
· Not only that, but it was about 5 miles to Bethlehem, and this road very gradually turned about 20 degrees to the west (see The Macmillan 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 and, in fact, stood over Bethlehem (due to “retrograde motion”) as they arrived!
· Some of the Jewish towns people — knowing that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem about that time and informed by the shepherds of the special baby in the manger — would have known where the young child now lived…
· I suppose that the stars don’t prove anything, but they certainly support Matthew’s story
· And besides, there’s more…
· See (I’m working on this)