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The Birth of a Biblical Myth

As most Christians already know, the Bible is a true and living collection of books. Many people have tried to disprove it, yet not one has ever succeeded, except in their own minds. In fact, many exceptionally learned men who’ve tried to disprove the bible became strong Christians and several are now pastors.

Yet, there are several myths that have come about because of a lack of understanding, knowledge, and a simple supposition that isn’t supported by the bible.

For instance, most Christians and many non-Christians are acquainted with the story of the three wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem. It has been used in many movies.

This is based on the scriptures found in Matthew 2:2-12:

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

This scripture shows how the story was turned into a myth. Where does it identify 3 wise men? In fact, it says that the magi sought out Jesus on the command of Herrod, but it doesn’t say how many there were, nor does it say that they were ‘wise men’. At that time, the magi were astrologers and soothsayers, not necessarily wise men. They also weren’t identified as kings, so “We three kings” is totally wrong. Herrod was the king, in any event.

The thought that there were three of them probably came about because of the three valuable gifts; gold, frznkensense, and myrrh. Still, the bible never said that there were three magi.

Also, depictions of the event shows the three men riding camels. The people of northern Arabia did occasionally use camels as beasts of burden, but they rarely rode them. They rode Arabian horses. So the Magi almost certainly were on horseback, not camels.

Maybe the biggest myth is that they followed a star. Matthew said they saw a star (most likely Polaris, the northern star) but there is nothing that said that they followed it. In fact, they were aware of the prophecy and knew that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. A guiding star was hardly necessary for them to find Bethlehem. In fact, Herod specifically sent them to Bethlehem. They didn’t need to follow anything at all.

Thus, the tale of the wise men is an embellished myth that isn’t supported by the bible.

  • Were you aware that the story of the three wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem is a myth, according to the bible?

    • Yes
    • No


What do you think?

12 Points

Written by Rex Trulove


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  1. There are many interpretations and much figurative language. My Dad often said, “If you are going to do your bible reading, then get down on your knees and tell the Lord to interpret what you are reading in and for “your” heart. Everyone feels differently for a reason.

    • that is quite true and there is wisdom in what he said. In this instance, Matthew definitely wasn’t being arbitrary and it is easy to tell that the story of the three wise men isn’t even a misinterpretation, it is an outright myth. The magi weren’t kings, they were astrologers, by definition, and they almost certainly came from northern Arabia.

      This is also a difference in reading the bible as compared to studying the bible. Studying it removes many of the misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

      • Bible says in Genesis Ch. No. 1 Verses No. 3 and 5,…‘Light was created on the first day.’ Genesis, Ch., 1 Verses, 14 to 19… ‘The cause of light – stars and the sun, etc. was created on the fourth day’. How can the cause of light be created on the 4th day – later than the light which came into existence on the first day?

        • This is no less reasonable than trying to say that everything was created in a big bang plus the result of random chance. A lot of scientists have had trouble with that one for a long time. A God who is capable of creating anything and everything is surely capable of creating light, with the only source being God.

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