were renowned. Indeed, 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.’”
It is true that the word magos can mean “Oriental scientist,” but what kind of science was it for which the magi were famous? Was it science as it is understood today? Hardly. Rather, it appears to have been compounded largely of magic and astrology. The prophet Isaiah said concerning Babylon and its magi: “Stand still, now, with your spells and with the abundance of your sorceries, in which you have toiled from your youth; that perhaps you might be able to benefit, that perhaps you might strike people with awe. You have grown weary with the multitude of your counselors. Let them stand up, now, and save you, the worshipers of the heavens, the lookers at the stars, those giving out knowledge at the new moons concerning the things that will come upon you.”—Isa. 47:12, 13.
Rightly, then, the word magos at Matthew 2:1 was taken by the ancient readers of Matthew to refer to astrologers. Among them are Justin, Origen and Tertullian. Wrote Tertullian, for instance: “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, Vol. III, p. 65) The name “Magi” became current “as a generic term for astrologers in the East.”—The New Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia, Vol. 22, p. 8076.
So it is most likely that those particular “magi” or “wise men” of Matthew 2:1 were astrologers, for were they not being guided by lights in the sky, by what appeared to be a moving star? (Matt. 2:2) This is strong circumstantial evidence that these magi were astrologers. Thus The New Testament by Charles B. Williams reads “star-gazers,” at Matthew 2:1, with a footnote in explanation: “That is, students of stars in relation to events on earth.” Fittingly, then, not only the New World Translation, but also three other modern English translations, An American Translation, The New English Bible and The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips, all read, at Matthew 2:1, “astrologers.”
In their ministry during July Jehovah’s witnesses will continue to manifest faith, to the preserving alive of their souls and to the blessing of men of goodwill. To that end, they will joyfully embrace the opportunity of presenting everywhere the fine Bible study aids “Let Your Name Be Sanctified” and “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” with two booklets, on a contribution of $1.
ARE YOU SEEKING HAPPINESS?
Happiness is not the goal in life. It is the reward for right living. What are true Christian principles? Is just the “golden rule” necessary? If so, why was the rest of the Bible provided? Read the book “This Means Everlasting Life.” It could well be called a Christian’s guidebook to right living. That is because it is truly based on the Bible. Send 50c. Learn the way to genuine happiness.
“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
August 18: Strength Imparted Through Encouragement. Page 424.
August 25: Giving Encouragement to Others. Page 430.