The Magi go home (Mt 2:12-2:12)

“Having been warned

In a dream

Not to return

To Herod,

They left

For their own country

By another road.”

 

καὶ χρηματισθέντες κατ’ ὄναρ μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην, δι’ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν.

 

The magi were warned (χρηματισθέντες) not to return to Herod (μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην) in some sort of divine dream (κατ’ ὄναρ). This led them to withdraw from this scene and return to their own country (ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν), wherever that may be.   They were not going to stop to see King Herod, as he had asked them to do. Thus, they went home using another road (δι’ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ), avoiding Jerusalem. So, ends the saga of these worshipping magi, magicians, wise men, or kings. Clearly, they symbolize the outreach of Jesus to other than Jewish people, but beyond that, it is difficult to say more. The idea of 3 kings does not come from the text itself. It can only be implied from the 3 gifts that were presented, but from nothing else.

The Magi follow the star (Mt 2:9-2:10)

“When they had heard out

The king,

They set out

On their way.

There ahead of them

Went the star

That they had seen

Rising in the east.

It stopped

Over the place

Where the child was.

When they saw

That the star

Had stopped,

They were overwhelmed

With joy.”

 

οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες τοῦ βασιλέως ἐπορεύθησαν· καὶ ἰδοὺ ὁ ἀστὴρ, ὃν εἶδον ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ, προῆγεν αὐτούς ἕως ἐλθὼν ἐστάθη ἐπάνω οὗ ἦν τὸ παιδίον.

ἰδόντες δὲ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα.

 

When the magi had finished their conversation with King Herod (οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες τοῦ βασιλέως), they set out on their way (ἐπορεύθησαν) to Bethlehem.  Then they saw that the star in the eastern skies (δοὺ ὁ ἀστὴρ, ὃν εἶδον ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ).  This star led them until it stopped (προῆγεν αὐτούς ἕως ἐλθὼν ἐστάθη) over the place where the child was (ἐπάνω οὗ ἦν τὸ παιδίον).  They were really happy with exceeding great joy (ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα) about seeing this star (ἰδόντες δὲ τὸν ἀστέρα) that had guided them.  Obviously, this was a religious miracle star, not some ordinary star.  The magi had completed their task.

Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem (Mt 2:8-2:8)

“Then King Herod

Sent the Magi

To Bethlehem.

Saying.

‘Go!

Search diligently

For the child!

When you have found him,

Bring me word,

So that I may also go.

I want to pay him homage.’”

 

καὶ πέμψας αὐτοὺς εἰς Βηθλέεμ εἶπεν· Πορευθέντες ἐξετάσατε ἀκριβῶς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου· ἐπὰν δὲ εὕρητε, ἀπαγγείλατέ μοι, ὅπως κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν προσκυνήσω αὐτῷ.

 

Then King Herod told the magi to go to Bethlehem (πέμψας αὐτοὺς εἰς Βηθλέεμ,), since he had found out that this was the place where the new king of the Jews was born.  He told the magi that when they got to Bethlehem they were to search diligently (εἶπεν·Πορευθέντες ἐξετάσατε ἀκριβῶς) for this new born child (περὶ τοῦ παιδίου).  When they found out where he was (ἐπὰν δὲ εὕρητε,), they were to let him know (ἀπαγγείλατέ μοι), so that he also could go to worship or pay homage to him (ὅπως κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν προσκυνήσω αὐτῷ), just as they were about to do.  This seems pretty straight forward.  Obviously, King Herod had other plans.

Herod was annoyed and frightened (Mt 2:3-2:4)

“When King Herod heard this,

He was frightened.

All of Jerusalem

Was troubled

With him.

King Herod called together

All the chief priests,

As well as the scribes

Of the people.

He inquired of them

Where the Christ

Was to be born.”

 

ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης ἐταράχθη, καὶ πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ’ αὐτοῦ, καὶ συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ ἐπυνθάνετο παρ’ αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ Χριστὸς γεννᾶται.

 

When the old King Herod heard this (ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης) from the magi, he was frightened, troubled, and annoyed (ἐταράχθη), since he did not have a new born son.  He might have worried about his own sons, since his oldest son Archelaus would become the ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea, while Herod Antipas would become tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, when he died.  In fact, the whole town of Jerusalem (πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ’ αὐτοῦ) was troubled also, because they had not heard anything about a new king.  Thus, King Herod assembled all the chief priests and the scribes (συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ) in Jerusalem to find out (ἐπυνθάνετο) where this new anointed king might have been born (αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ Χριστὸς γεννᾶται).  Interesting enough, Matthew has the new child called Χριστὸς, the anointed one.  King Herod probably gathered the great Jewish Sanhedrin to discuss this matter.  Herod himself was from Edom and not really a traditional Jew, but had converted to Judaism, so that his knowledge of Jewish traditions was weak.

The questions of the Magi (Mt 2:2-2:2)

“The Magi asked.

‘Where is the child

Who has been born

King of the Jews?

We have observed

His star

At its rising

In the east.

We have come

To pay him homage.’”

 

λέγοντες Ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ.

 

These magi, because it was more than one, wanted to know where the new born child was (Ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς) who was going to be the King of the Jews (βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων).  They had observed his star rising in the east (εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ).  They had come to pay homage or worship this new king (ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ).  These seem like legitimate questions from these eastern magi for King Herod.  They might have assumed that this new king would be the child of the current king, since King Herod had the title of King of the Jews.  As astrologers, they had seen this special star in the east.  They were outsiders, not Jewish, so that their insertion into this story indicated a universal appeal to the infant Jesus, who was to be ruler of the Jews.