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Is the star that the wise men saw that caused them to come to Bethlehem prophesied in the Bible? If so, where is that prophecy?

The wise men spoke about the star here:

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matthew 2:1-2, KJV)

  • I believe they were "magi" and astrology was also a spiritual science for some in the sense that a great event seen in the sky was a sign and the interpretation of that sign depended upon the school of thought that one subscribed to, (like the aquarian age belief). So I dont know of a reference in the bible to the star but it seems that if there was a great star over a nation it was a sign of a great king or a spuritual master born in that nation. – eliyah Sep 14 '14 at 22:30
  • being that the jews were awaiting a Messiah King its possible that they assumed he arrived upon the appearing of the star over the nation. (look up "the revelation of the magi") – eliyah Sep 14 '14 at 22:36
  • Verses 4-6 tell of the prophecy where Christ was to be born. No mention of an accompanying star. – user13992 Sep 14 '14 at 22:38
  • Numbers 24:17 has a star (Hand of Don's answer) You might find this documentary interesting: youtube.com/watch?v=ff-Gp194XUU also, read Revelations 12. – Zoe Sep 15 '14 at 2:43
  • I could not figure out on my phone how to add an answer but I recently looked up the Septuagint translation of Psalm 110:3 and here is what it says “with you is the sovereignty in the day of your power with the brightness of your holy ones from out of the womb before the morning star I begat you". Sounds like a dead ringer to me. This textual variant I read has something to do with different vowel pointings on one of the Hebrew words in the text that jarbels the meaning. If you read the translation of the maseretic text it does not really make sense but this translation definitely does! – JLB Dec 28 '18 at 9:00
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A bright light will shine to all parts of the earth; many nations shall come to you from afar, And the inhabitants of all the limits of the earth, drawn to you by the name of the Lord God, Bearing in their hands their gifts for the King of heaven. Every generation shall give joyful praise in you, and shall call you the chosen one, through all ages forever. (Tobit 13:11)

Tobit is part of the original Christian canon. Today, the book is called apocryphal.

  • It's hardly clear that it was part of the "original" canon, whatever that was. Anyways, can you present any evidence that other people identify this verse as referring to the star of Bethlehem? – curiousdannii Apr 8 '15 at 14:25
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    The Book of Tobit is part of the canon of both the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches. – Ken Graham Dec 9 '16 at 15:56
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I have a program that searches the Bible for words, and a search for "star" brought up only two references in the Old Testament, both without any mention of the star above Bethlehem:

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 shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth." (Numbers 24:17, KJV)

And:

But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. (Amos 5:26, KJV)

Based on the search, I conclude that no, there are no prophecies recorded in the Bible regarding the star above Bethlehem.

  • Actually, the first half of Numbers 24:17 could be construed as a Messianic prophecy and the producers of the Bible TV series saw fit to place those words in the mouth of one of the wise men (ie in relation to the star of Bethlehem) – bruised reed Sep 15 '14 at 1:12
  • @bruisedreed true, you could sorta make it seem as if it was a prophecy regarding the star over Bethlehem. But since "star" is capitalized, and since a ball of burning gas in the sky can't have Jacob as an ancestor, this verse is talking about Jesus, the Messiah. – Jeremy H Sep 15 '14 at 1:19
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    The capitalization is a translation choice - it is not capitalized in other versions. And even if the star (or 'Star') is directly referring to the person of the Messiah as you (I believe correctly) imply, the fact that he is given that description means that a literal star would be a fitting sign of his advent. Consequently, it would not be a stretch to see the literal star as marking the fulfillment of the prophecy even if it wasn't the true (or main) subject of the prophecy. – bruised reed Sep 15 '14 at 1:28
  • You might find this documentary on the Star of Bethlehem interesting: youtube.com/watch?v=ff-Gp194XUU Read Revelations 12 before watching might be useful. Of course, the video does not explain certain parts of the chapter ;) – Zoe Sep 15 '14 at 2:41
  • This text is also understood as being behind the messianic claimant Bar Kokhba being called Bar Kokhba (son of a star). – david brainerd Sep 15 '14 at 4:04
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The renowned Messianic Jewish scholar, Alfred Edersheim, has proposed another solution to the mystery. He points out that the Greek word translated “star” really means “radiance.” The “star” could therefore have been what the Jews called the “Shekinah” — that is, a physical manifestation of the glory of God in the form of a supernatural radiance.

The Jews experienced such a phenomenon in the wilderness of Sinai when for 40 years they were led about by a pillar of cloud in the day that became a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). When the radiant cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud hovered, they pitched their tents and settled down (Numbers 9:15-23).

This Shekinah later resided in the Holy of Holies after the Temple of Solomon was built (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). Ezekiel describes how the Shekinah departed from the Temple in stages before God allowed the Temple to be destroyed by the Babylonians. First, the Shekinah moved from the Holy of Holies to the threshold of the Temple (Ezekiel 9:3). Then “the glory of the Lord” moved from the threshold to the Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 10:18-19). Finally, the Lord’s presence moved to the Mount of Olives where it “stood over the mountain” before departing the city (Ezekiel 11:23).

The Shekinah is mentioned in the New Testament as being present at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:9), at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:5), and at His ascension (Acts 1:9).

Considering the radiant and maneuverable qualities of the Shekinah that are demonstrated in these scriptures, I think it is very likely that the “star” which led the magi was really the Shekinah glory of God.

The Attraction of the Star

Another mystery associated with the Bible’s account of the magi is why did these men “from the east” follow the heavenly radiance?

Their very title gives us a clue. Magi is a Persian term for a priestly caste of wise men who specialized in astrology, medicine, and natural science. The ancient historian Herodotus says they interpreted dreams and omens and claimed to have the gift of prophecy. Such men would naturally have been interested in an unusual heavenly radiance.

It is also very likely that they would have been familiar with the writings of Daniel who gained great renown as a wise man and interpreter of dreams in the Babylonian court of Nebuchadnezzar. If so, they would have known his prophecy of “the seventy weeks of years” which is recorded in Daniel 9:24-27.

This remarkable prophecy established the general time period of the Messiah’s coming by indicating it would be 483 years after a Persian ruler issued an edict to rebuild Jerusalem. The magi had probably been counting down the years since the Jews had been sent back from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem, and they thus knew the general time period when the Messiah would be born.

Because of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, the magi would also have had access to the writings of Moses (the Torah), and from those writings, they may have come across the Messianic prophecy of Balaam that “a star shall come forth from Jacob” (Numbers 24:17).

The Inclusion of the Gentiles

The final mystery is why God would open the eyes of a group of Gentile mystics and draw them to the Christ Child.

Undoubtedly it was for the purpose of symbolizing the universal importance of the birth, to emphasize that although salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22), it is intended for all peoples.

That was certainly the message of the angels who proclaimed to the Bethlehem shepherds that their good news of the birth of a Savior was for “all the people” (Luke 2:10-11).

This point was affirmed and emphasized forty days later when Mary and Joseph took their son to the Temple “to present Him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22). As they entered the Temple, a prophet of God by the name of Simeon took the Christ Child into his arms, blessed God, and then announced:

My eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared in the
presence of all peoples,
A light of salvation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.
                       (Luke 2:30-32)
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To find the prophecy concerning the star the wise men followed, one must connect the following scriptures--Genesis 49.10 (scepter will not depart Judah), Numbers 24.17 (star of Jacob), Isaiah 7.14 ( a sign of Immanuel) Isaiah 9.1-2 (a great light), Micah 5.2 ( a ruler in Beth-lehem Ephratah), Daniel 9.25 (coming of Messiah), and Psalm 72.10 (kings bring gifts to the son).

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