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  1. 9 "But the lawless one’s presence is by the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and wonders." (2 Thess.2:9) Who were the Magi that visited the young child Jesus? Astrologers (Gr., maʹgoi; “Magi,” AS ftn, CC, We; “Magians,” ED) brought gifts to the young child Jesus. (Mt 2:1-16) Commenting on who these maʹgoi were, The Imperial Bible-Dictionary (Vol. II, p. 139) says: “According to Herodotus the magi were a tribe of the Medes [I, 101], who professed to interpret dreams, and had the official charge of sacred rites . . . they were, in short, the learned and priestly class, and having, as was supposed, the skill of deriving from books and the observation of the stars a supernatural insight into coming events . . . Later investigations tend rather to make Babylon than Media and Persia the centre of full-blown magianism. ‘ Originally, the Median priests were not called magi . . . From the Chaldeans, however, they received the name of magi for their priestly caste, and it is thus we are to explain what Herodotus says of the magi being a Median tribe’ . . . (J. C. Müller in Herzog’s Encl.).”—Edited by P. Fairbairn, London, 1874. Rightly, then, Justin Martyr, Origen, and Tertullian, when reading Matthew 2:1, thought of maʹgoi as astrologers. Wrote Tertullian (“On Idolatry,” IX): “We know the mutual alliance of magic and astrology. The interpreters of the stars, then, were the first . . . to present Him [Jesus] ‘gifts.’” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1957, Vol. III, p. 65) The name Magi became current “as a generic term for astrologers in the East.”—The New Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia, 1952, Vol. 22, p. 8076. So the circumstantial evidence is strong that the maʹgoi who visited the infant Jesus were astrologers. Thus The New Testament translated by C. B. Williams reads “star-gazers,” with a footnote in explanation: “This is, students of stars in relation to events on earth.” Fittingly, then, modern English translations read “astrologers” at Matthew 2:1.—AT, NE, NW, Ph. How many of these astrologers “from eastern parts” brought “gold and frankincense and myrrh” to the child Jesus is not disclosed; there is no factual basis for the traditional notion that there were three. (Mt 2:1, 11) As astrologers, they were servants of false gods and were, wittingly or unwittingly, led by what appeared to them as a moving “star.” They alerted Herod to the fact that the “king of the Jews” had been born, and Herod, in turn, sought to have Jesus killed. The plot, however, failed. Jehovah intervened and proved superior to the demon gods of the astrologers, so instead of returning to Herod, the astrologers headed home another way after being given “divine warning in a dream.”—Mt 2:2, 12.
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