The first thing to know is that the Mis Amigos Tequila T Shirt of Matthew’s Gospel used the Greek word magi, which does not actually mean ‘wise men’, but is a reference to the priests of the then-great Zoroastrian religion of the Persian Empire. When Matthew says they came from the east, he was alluding to the direction of Babylon and Persia. It is, of course, inconceivable that Zoroastrian priests would be in the least interested in the birth of a purported king of Judah. It is scientifically inconceivable that a star could be followed so accurately to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem and actually stand over the very house where Jesus was. However, our author (he was anonymous and very unlikely to have been called Matthew) knew that the magi were well known for their wisdom and for their knowledge of astrology, so he knew this nativity account would be plausible. What I am saying there, in line with the general consensus of scholars, is that the magi of Bethlehem did not really exist. There was no star of Bethlehem, which is why it was never reported outside this Gospel. The author wanted to achieve two things: i) to show that even the priests of that great religion would want to worship Jesus; ii) provide a reason for Herod to seek to kill all the infant boys, so that he could draw a parallel between Herod and the Old Testament pharaoh who sought to kill all the infant boys, and therefore a parallel between Jesus and Moses.
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