I've watched and re-watched 3 TV programs this Christmas season ("The Christmas Star", "The Star of Bethlehem", and "The Census and the Star"), all discussing the position of the stars around the time of Christ birth (astronomy, not astrology), and what that might mean. You might want to watch these programs if you get the chance, but I thought I would post some of the highlights to share them with you at this Christmas season.
Why did the "3 Wise Men" travel to Bethlehem?
Be cause they had seen signs in the sky.
What might those signs in the sky have been?
The foremost astronomers (and astrogeologers) were in Babylon, a southwestern part of the Parathian empire. They observed the stars at least twice per day, just after sundown, and before sunrise, because they were the king's astrogeolgers, and they noticed unusual events in the night sky at that time. They saw a star rising in the east ("en anatole" in greek). Here is what they saw in the sky during this period of time (you can check it out on your computer, if you have a star map program). Actually these star maps, and their comtinuous movement could not have been made, until Johannes Kepler discovered the 3 Laws of Planetary Motion in the 1600's, or until computers were invented to do the calculations.
19 May 3 BC - Jupiter (the King planet) and the planet Mercury rise very close together (in conjunction).
12 June 3 BC - The planets Saturn and Venus rose before dawn, very close together.
12 August 3 BC - Jupiter and Venus (the 2 brigest objects in the sky) rise in conjuction shortly before dawn, in the constelation Cancer (the last sign of the zodac).
18 August 3 BC - Mercury rose rose in the pre-dawn hours, only 1/3rd of a degree from the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, in the constellation Leo (the Lion, and the 1st sign of the zodac).
14 September 3 BC - Jupiter reverses it's course (retrograde motion meaning as viewed from a moving object, the Earth)) as planets do, moving back toward Regulus (the Kingship star, the brightest star in the constillation Leo (which also represents Juda and Israel).
20 September 3 BC - The Jewish "Day of Atoinment".
25 September 3 BC - The Jewish "Feast of Tabernacles".
17 Feburary 2 BC - The 2nd conjuction of Jupiter and Regulus, then it reverses course again.
8 May 2 BC - The 3rd conjuction of Jupiter and Regulus, then Jupiter continues on to complete the almost flat circle over Regulas, crowning Regulus, the ruling star of kingship.
17 June 2 BC - Jupiter (king planet) and Venus (mother planet) are in conjuction, in the constellation Leo, so close together that they appear to be 1 object. This only happens every 1.2 million years, and it just happened twice in the same year.
27 August 2 BC - Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, and Mars meet in the constellation Leo, and then Jupiter leaves, This is what prompts the "Wise Men" to leave Babylon, and follow the star.
30 October 2 BC - Jupiter reverses.
25 November 2 BC - Jupiter is in conjunction again.
25 December 2 BC - Jupiter stops over Bethlehem for 6 days, when viewed from Jerusalem, and then reverses. This is when the "Wise Men" arrived in Bethlehem, with gifts for the Christ child (the 1st Christmas), also the Winter Solstice.
1 January 1 BC - A Red Moon total eclipse, which preceded King Harrod's death, and he died before passover.
24 January 24 BC - A Jewish holiday, to celibrate King Harrods death.</ What do these dates and their associated events mean? They have 2 different interpretations, but they both agree on the dates and events. All 3 TV programs agree upon the "Wise Men" arriving in Bethlehem on the 25th of December 2 BC, and that King Harrod died sometime between January 10th and 24th of 1 BC. However, they disagree on the date of Christ birth. Both the "The Christmas Star" and "The Census and the Star" state that Christ was born between September 10th and 25th of 3 BC, which would mean that Christ was conceived around December 25th of 4 BC. They suggest the birth date as September 12th 3 BC (because this was the 1st day the narrow sliver of the new moon could be seen), and that by tredition, he wound have been circumcised 8 days later, on September 20th, the Jewish "Dat of Atoinment", followed by the Jewish "Feast of the Tabernacles, on September 25th 3 BC. I love this symbolism, but why would Joseph and Mary have stayed in Bethlehem for 15 months, until the "Wise Men" arrived, and not have returned home. It might have something to do with Joseph's job, which could be traslated as a carpenter (who would need his tools, which he probably didn't bring on the trip) or a simple day laborer (that might not need tools). They could have decided to stay in Bethlehem until the talk back home died down about Mary's pregnancy. However, Rick Larson, in "The Star of Bethlehem" believes that Christ was born in June of 2 BC, meaning Christ would have only been 6 months old when the "Wise Men" Arrived. Who were these "Wise Men"? Not who you might think. When the Jews were in captavity in Babylon, Daniel became the Kings most important advisor, and he instructed others, one of whome was Zoraster, who founded the relegion of Zorasterism, the relegion of the Parthians, a verpowerful rival of the Roman empire. Zoraster copied the prophices of Daniel into the court records, and they were included in the Zorasterian relegion, so they knew the signs in the sky that would mean the birth of Christ. These "Wise Men" were far more than that, the were one of the most powerful groups in the empire. Surprisingly, the Parthian government was much like our own, with a 2 house legislature called the Megistanes, who elected the king. The lower house (like our House of Representatives) was composed of nobles, sort of a "House of Princes". The Upper House was composed of 2 groups, the Sofoi (the Wise Men), and the Magori (the priest). So these "Wise Men" were not just a couple of wealthy star watchers, they were very important members of the Parthian government, just 1 step below the king. So they wouldn't have traveled alone to Bethlehem, they would have traveled with an honor guard of a regt. of their best troops (horse archers, who won every battle with the Romans but 1), to protect them from bandets along the way, and the Romans, with whome they were frequently at war. When they arrived in Jerusalem (a Roman provence), everyone was frightened, because the army had been sent north to help the Roman put down an Armenian uprising, by Parthian allies. This might explaine why King Harrod didn't send his toops to massacre the children 2 years old and under immediately.