The Magi: Tradition vs. what the Bible says

In several Latin American countries as well as others, January 6 is celebrated on the traditional "Día de los Reyes" (Day of the Kings)This is the day that commemorates the arrival of the three wise men from the East to the place where the promised King was born, to worship him and pay him reverence. This tradition has deep roots in the culture of most of these countries, and often overshadows the Christmas tradition of "Santa Claus" that predominates in most of the North American region.

The Magi: tradition vs. what the Bible says 1

Being Christians, the question that must arise in our minds is what does it say? the Bible about these characters? And the answer is not very far-fetched, since the bible mentions little about these characters. Not only this, but the little it does say is quite different from what tradition dictates.

What the Bible says about the Magi!

First of all, let's clarify that the kings came from South Arabia from a city called Seba, the place where all the frankincense and myrrh that was distributed throughout the world along with gold came from. psalm 72:10-11 reads:

10 Let the kings of Tarshish and the isles bring gifts;

The kings of Sheba and Sheba offer tribute;

11 And let all the kings of the earth bow down before him;

Let all nations serve him.

Some may wonder how these mythical characters from the east According to some biblical scholars, their explanation is that the founder of the city of Sheba, like other cities, were descendants of Abraham, and were sent there far away from Isaac to populate these eastern lands, and based on this relationship it is inferred that they knew this prophecy about "The Messiah". Even though they were far away, they had heard from their ancestor Abraham, about the man who would come to earth to be their savior.

Other research has shown that although the bible mentions very little about the magis, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, it is mentioned that Magi came from the East to Jerusalem and asked where is the King of the Jews who has been born? From this fragment we can infer where the Magi came from, and the word "Magus" which comes from the Persian and means "Persian Priest"In these Persian lands, the Astras, like the Jews, also believed in the coming of the Messiah, whose virgin birth would be announced by a star. So the Magi looked for a star that they hoped would lead them to the Messiah.

There is also another element that links the Magi with ancient Persia, a mural from the 6th century, located in Ravenna-Italy, is one of the first examples of Christian art and shows the three wise men with their gifts for the Messiah. The clothes with which they are painted in that mural coincide with the clothes used by the Persian civilization.

Another explanation that can be seen in the bible in the same gospel of St. Matthew, is that these Magi, were not precisely those who disappear objects, or have magic wands, you can see that the reason why these "magi" came to Herod to ask him that they were following a star in the east and that they knew the prophecies of the Old Testament  of the sacred book.

The tradition of calling them kings comes from an interpretation that emerged in the first centuries of Christianity. From here it is intuited that these Magi are characters that studied diverse branches such as astronomy, dream interpretation, divination of the future, and the interpretation of sacred or "magic" books of different cultures/religions or things of this nature.

Another important part of this research is that nowhere in the bible does it mention that there were three kings who visited Jesus. The explanatory reason for this number is intuitive that it is based on the number of gifts that were given to the Savior (gold, frankincense and myrrh), assuming that each of the gifts was given individually by a magician king. What the scriptures do mention is that there was more than one Wise Man. It is also important to clarify that the bible nowhere mentions the names of the kings who visited Jesus.

How was the tradition born?

For many, the arrival of the Three Wise Menmarks the closing of the christmasThe nativity scene is kept at home until February 2, when Catholics celebrate the day of the Virgin of Candelaria.

According to Herodotus (Greek historian and geographer), the magicians were originally a "Median tribe" that became a priestly caste of the Persians. They practiced divination, medicine and astrology. De la Voragine comments that their names in Hebrew were Apelius, Amerius and Damascus; in Greek, Galgata, Malgalat and Sarathin; and in Latin, Gaspar, Balthasar and Melchior (Melchior).

Their skin colors and attire have changed, since originally in the West they represented the races of Shem, Ham and Japheth, and now they embody the colors of the world: white, yellow and black, or white, brown and black. It is also the representation of Europe, Africa and America, the three worlds, an allegory that reached the viceroyalty of New Spain.

Latin America When colonized by Europeans, this tradition has been adopted, in which in most regions, in the afternoon or evening of January 5, the three men on horseback, or even on camels, enter the towns or cities, loaded with gifts and good news for the children. children. One of the best known traditions is to place water in the manger for the Three Wise Men, starting on Christmas Eve, in order to pay honor and respect to the travelers from the East, so that they arrive safely at their destination. Others even choose to place a letter with their wishes.

Then, on the night of January 5-6, it is customary for children to place their best shoes either in the window, the door of the house, or another place, where traditionally if the child behaved well, candy would be placed, or if he or she had behaved badly during the year, they would simply receive coal. In Latin American countries, unlike Spain, the best gifts are given on the day of the birth of the child God.

Unlike Spain where it is customary to deliver the biggest gifts or toys for Three Kings Day. It is also traditional for these dates to share in the homes the Roscon de ReyesThis is a type of sweet bread, in the shape of a doughnut, which is decorated with caramelized dried fruits, nuts and almonds, and sometimes it even has some surprises embedded as gifts for adults and children.

These holidays are part of the culture of many countries and in fact are taken as holidays in many parts of Latin America and Europe.

This website uses cookies to give you the best user experience. If you continue browsing you are giving your consent to the acceptance of the aforementioned cookies and acceptance of our. cookies policy

Cookie Notice