Matthew 2:1, How Many Wise Men Were There?

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.

//Question: How many wise men were there?

The Bible doesn’t say. We’ve probably all heard many times over that the Christmas stories have it all wrong, and nobody knows how many wise men there really were.

But if you said three, you’re probably right.

Perhaps the idea of three wise men derives from the three gifts they brought: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Or another reason may be seen in the stars: Many traditions have called the three stars of Orion’s belt the “kings” or “magi.” They form a direct line to Sirius and appear to follow him straight to the birthplace of the sun (Son). But there’s yet another reason to imagine there were exactly three wise men.

It turns out that the story of Jesus closely mimics a number of Old Testament themes, and Matthew especially loves to relate these themes. Jesus’ birth is no exception to the rule. The Christ child is born miraculously of a virgin; Isaac, considered a typology of Christ in the Old Testament, is likewise born miraculously, this time to a postmenopausal woman. So, let’s go back to the story of Abraham and Sarah, parents of Isaac. What do we find?

Three wise men! Three mysterious strangers led by God to Abraham and Sarah, foretelling Isaac’s miraculous birth.

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