A new brand of liberal theologians are trying to convince everyone that pagan mystics using some kind of black magic or divination discovered the secret of the “new” star, while the Jewish religious leaders were left in the dark (even if the priests and Pharisees were corrupt and blind to spiritual things, God always leaves Himself a remnant; godly people like Simeon, Anna and others were expecting the Messiah to come at that time - see Luke 5:25-38).
The Magi’s most famous and God-honoring predecessor was Daniel, who, along with his three Hebrew friends, were taken from Jerusalem to Babylon, hundreds of years earlier, to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, ... Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
One of Daniel’s most fascinating prophecies came during the interpretation of the king’s dream about the huge statue with various parts of gold, silver, brass, iron and iron mixed with clay:
There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
[Daniel 2:28, 44, 45]
We see that God is going to set up an eternal kingdom, but when is that going to be? Daniel gives them the answer in this next prophecy:
Seventy weeks [of years] are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
There is a lot of heavy prophecy in these few verses, but for now we will just pick out a couple that are relevant for this question. Seventy weeks are determined upon the people of Israel. There will be sixty-nine weeks [of years] or 483 years from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until the time of Christ’s arrival. Unfortunately Messiah will be cut off, and the final seventieth week is still in the future. This will be seven years of desolations (tribulations) before He sets up the eternal kingdom.
But will there be some special sign that the Messiah has come? How would the Magi know where to look for the new King? Many scholars believe that Baalam’s prophecy from the book of Numbers chapter 24 is the basis of the, God-fearing, wise men’s quest:
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre (sovereignty) shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.
There shall come a star out of Jacob and a sceptre out of Israel. And out of Jacob shall come the Messiah. He is the One who will, ultimately, usher in God’s eternal Kingdom.
The wise men were looking for a "Star out of Jacob (Israel)," 483 years after the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.