Biblical Magi

The Three Magi, Byzantine mosaic c. 565, Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy (restored during the 18th century). As here Byzantine art usually depicts the Magi in Persian clothing which includes breeches, capes, and Phrygian caps.
Events in the
Life of Jesus
according to the Gospels
Life of Jesus

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The biblical Magi[a] (/[1] or /; singular: magus), also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings, were, in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.

The Gospel of Matthew is the only one of the four canonical gospels that mentions the Magi. Matthew reports that they came "from the east" to worship the "king of the Jews".[2] The gospel never actually mentions the number of Magi, but most western Christian denominations have traditionally assumed them to have been three in number, based on the statement that they brought three gifts.[3] In Eastern Christianity, especially the Syriac churches, the Magi often number twelve.[4] Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is probably linked to Psalms 72:11, "May all kings fall down before him".[5][6]

Biblical account

Traditional nativity scenes depict three "Wise Men" visiting the infant Jesus on the night of his birth, in a manger accompanied by the shepherds and angels, but this should be understood as an artistic convention allowing the two separate scenes of the Adoration of the Shepherds on the birth night and the later Adoration of the Magi to be combined for convenience.[7] The single biblical account in Matthew simply presents an event at an unspecified point after Christ's birth in which an unnumbered party of unnamed "wise men" ("μάγοι") visits him in a house ("οἰκίαν"),[8] not a stable, with only "his mother" mentioned as present. The New Revised Standard Version of Matthew 2:112 describes the visit of the Magi in this manner:

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path.

The text specifies no interval between the birth and the visit, and artistic depictions and the closeness of the traditional dates of December 25 and January 6 encourage the popular assumption that the visit took place the same winter as the birth, but later traditions varied, with the visit taken as occurring up to two winters later. This maximum interval explained Herod's command at Matthew 2:16–18 that the Massacre of the Innocents included boys up to two years old. More recent commentators, not tied to the traditional feast days, may suggest a variety of intervals.[9]

The wise men are mentioned twice shortly thereafter in verse 16, in reference to their avoidance of Herod after seeing Jesus, and what Herod had learned from their earlier meeting. The star which they followed has traditionally become known as the Star of Bethlehem.

Other Languages
беларуская: Тры каралі
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Тры каралі
български: Тримата влъхви
brezhoneg: Tri Roue
català: Reis d'Orient
čeština: Tři králové
corsu: Rè Magi
Ελληνικά: Τρεις Μάγοι
español: Reyes Magos
Esperanto: Tri reĝoj
euskara: Errege Magoak
فارسی: سه مغ
français: Rois mages
galego: Reis Magos
한국어: 동방 박사
italiano: Magi (Bibbia)
Kiswahili: Majusi
Lëtzebuergesch: Helleg dräi Kinneken
lietuvių: Trys karaliai
Limburgs: Drie keuninge
македонски: Три Свети крала
norsk nynorsk: Heilage tre kongar
occitan: Reis Magues
português: Três Reis Magos
русский: Три царя
Simple English: Magi
slovenčina: Traja králi
slovenščina: Sveti trije kralji
српски / srpski: Tri mudraca
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Biblijski magi
Türkçe: Müneccimler
українська: Три царі
吴语: 东方三贤
žemaitėška: Trīs Karalē