King Herod and the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of King Herod.

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Wise men from the East went to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” (ESV)

The wise men had spotted the star proclaiming the birth of Jesus and wanted to worship the new born King.

In some translations, the wise men are also referred to as Magi, which was the name for Zoroastrian priests.  The word could also mean astrologers.  (source:  Dictionary.com)

King Herod was upset by what the wise men were saying.  He called the chief of priests and the scribes to ask where Christ was to be born.  They told him Christ was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea, as the prophet foretold:  “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”  (ESV)

This passage shows King Herod didn’t take time to study the scriptures and had no desire to even try to learn from the scriptures.  He didn’t know where Christ was to be born.  Instead of reading the scriptures to discover the answer, he asked other people to tell him what the scriptures said about the birth of Jesus.

Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem and told them, “Go and search diligently for the child and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (ESV)

Of course, Herod was lying to the wise men.  He actually wanted to find the child and have him killed.

The wise men continued their journey and found Jesus Christ.  They immediately started worshipping Jesus and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense (a gum resin obtained from an African tree and burned as incense), and myrrh (a fragrant gum resign obtained from certain trees in the near east used in perfumery, medicines, and incense).  (source:  Dictionary.com)

The wise men were warned in a dream to not return to Herod, so they went home another way.