Monday, December 8, 2014

Who Were the Magi and What Was the Forgotten Gift?

By 3268zauber (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Who Were the Magi?

Most of us know the story. Following the Star of Bethlehem, some wise men set out to pay homage to Jesus. With them they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were gifts befitting the newborn king, but also offerings with prophetic symbolism.

Who were these men?

Although a strong tradition exists that they were kings, this is not how the Bible describes them. They are called by the Greek word ˈmædʒaɪ, which is pronounced magoi or "magi," and originated with a priestly caste from the East.

Eastern Christianity holds that there were twelve magi,or wise men as the King James Bible describes them. However, in the West, they are thought to have been three in number, probably because that is the number of gifts mentioned in Matthew's account of the incident.

In Western Christianity, the three wise men are given identities based on Excerpta Latina Barbari, a Greek manuscript from about 500 AD. All were said to be scholars Melchior from Persian, Caspar from India, and Balthazar from Arabia.

The idea that wise men from the East arrived the night of Jesus's birth is a traditional element of Christmas. However, the Bible doesn't give a time frame for their visit. It may even, as some suggest, have taken place as many as two years past that date.

Three Gifts of the Magi

Gold was a gift most often given to kings. Its inclusion as a gift for Jesus proclaimed his royalty.

Frankincense, the incense reserved to be constantly burned in the Jewish Temple on the Altar of Incense, gave off a white smoke symbolic of prayers lifting to God. This gift shows Jesus as the great high priest.
Myrrh, a burial ointment, foreshadowed the death of Jesus.

The Forgotten Gift

The Magi gave one gift that is often overlooked when they bowed down before the King of kings. They gave Jesus the gift of worship. This Christmas season, may we do the same.

About Janalyn Voigt

Escape into creative worlds of fiction with Janalyn Voigt. Her unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Tales of Faeraven, her epic fantasy series that begins with DawnSinger, carries readers into a land only imagined in dreams. Janalyn is represented by Sarah Joy Freese of Wordserve Literary. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA. When she's not writing, Janalyn loves to discover worlds of adventure in the great outdoors.

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  1. Hi Janalyn. According to what I have read in the Bible there were only three who went to find baby Jesus, I've been told it probably have been a very long time on Camels. I love the story of HIS birth. I love Christmas but wish people would spend more time about thinking of this great event instead of the gifts that seems all important. Maxie
    > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  2. Hi, Maxie. There is a strong tradition that three Magi sought Jesus, but according to my research sources the Bible doesn't enumerate them. Here's an article on the topic: If you know of a Scripture that states otherwise, please post it, though.

    I'm with you on loving the story of our Lord's birth. I enjoy gifts at Christmas but not as the main focus.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Sorry, I deleted the post because of misspelled words! I liked your thoughts on the gift of worship. Sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com