1. Now when the man Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem of Judea during the reign of Herod the king, astrologers from the East came to Jerusalem to inquire about Him. These astrologers, or “Magi” originated from a religious caste among the Persians who were devoted to divination (or the practice of the magic arts) and to the interpretation of dreams. They came from Southern Arabia, where they had long maintained a tradition of Israelite Messianic expectation that had survived in the region since the days of the Queen of Sheba; and this tradition survived alongside their practice of astrology.
2. When they came to Jerusalem, they began to ask around, “Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have charted His star in the East through our understanding of the zodiac and have come to worship Him.”
3. But when the news about these Arabic magicians got to Herod, it worried him greatly and, in fact, troubled all of Jerusalem with him.
4. So he called together all the people who were experts in the law, and in Messianic prophecy, and asked them where the Messiah was supposed to be born.
5. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” the learned men replied, “for this is what the prophet Micah has written:
6. ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not in any way the least among Judah’s rulers: for out of you will come a ruler who will be the Shepherd of my people Israel.’”
7. Then Herod called for a secret meeting with the Magi in an attempt to find out if what they knew from their astrological charts lined up with what the Scriptures had predicted.
8. But these magicians had no knowledge of the prophetic Scriptures, so he said to them, “Go to Bethlehem and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you locate him, report back to me so that I may go and worship Him.”
9. After they conferred with the king, they went on their way and could actually see the star ahead of them. It literally seemed to move, guiding them to Bethlehem until it appeared to stop over the place where the child was.
10. When they saw the star that they had anticipated for so long, they were absolutely overjoyed. Of all the signs and wonders that they had seen and performed, this was different…this was the most spectacular! And this was proof that the heavens really do declare the glory of God, as David had said, and that even those who were not of the seed of Abraham could see it, even without a knowledge of the Scriptures.
11. On entering the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary and instinctively bowed down and worshipped Him. While everyone else in Israel was oblivious, these Persian magicians were the very first to recognize and worship the King! Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, providing Him and His family with enough wealth to last a lifetime.
12. Then they were warned in a dream not to go back to see Herod and returned to their country by an alternate route.
13. After the wise men had gone, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Hurry and take the child and his mother to Egypt! Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is looking for your child and wants to kill him.”
14. That very night, Joseph obediently got up and took his wife and baby boy to Egypt,
15. where they stayed until Herod died. So the prophecy came true, just as the Lord had promised and the prophet had said, “I called my son out of Egypt.”
16. When Herod became aware that the Magi had more or less tricked him, he was furious. He reacted by giving orders for his men to kill all the boys who lived in or near Bethlehem that were two years old and younger. He based his horrible plan on what he had learned from the Eastern magicians.
17. So another prophecy came true, just as the prophet Jeremiah had said:
18. “In Ramah a voice was heard crying and weeping loudly. Rachel was mourning for her children, and she was inconsolable because they were dead.”
19. Finally, after King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph while he was still in exile in Egypt.
20. The angel said, “Get up now and take the child and his mother back to Israel. The people who wanted to kill him are no threat to you now because they are dead.”
21. So Joseph obediently got up and left with them for Israel.
22. But when he heard that Herod's son Archelaus was now the ruler of Judea, he was afraid to go there. So the angel spoke to him in another dream and told him to go to Galilee.
23. And, as a result, they went to live there in the town of Nazareth. So yet another prophecy was fulfilled in this action, because the prophet had said, “He will be called a Nazarene.”