What is it that makes stars as toppings for our trees, as well as the history behind them that has to do with Christmas? Stars are beautiful. What are their significances to Christmas? This is what we will read about today.
Since most of us know the definition of a star, we will not do our typical definitions that are a part of this post. The main significance about Star’s on Christmas have to do with the Star of Bethlehem, or the Christmas Star, which appears only in Nativity story or the Gospel of Matthew in our Bible. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the “wise men from the East” (Magi) are inspired by the star to travel to Jerusalem. When the wise men, or Magi arrive in Jerusalem, they met with Kind Herod of Judea, and asked him, “where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We have come to pay homage to the newborn king of the Jews.”
King Herod of Judea, calls his scribes and priests who quote to him that a verse from the Book of Micah interpreted as a prophecy, states that the Jewish Messiah would be born in Bethlehem to the south of Jerusalem. Secretly intending to find the Messiah and kill him in order to preserve his own kingship, King Herod invites the wise men to return to him on their way home.
It is the star of Bethlehem that is able to lead them to Jesus’ home in the town, where they worship him and give him gifts. The wise men are then given a divine warning not to return to Herod, so they return home a different route.
Many Christians believe the star was a miraculous sign. Some theologians claimed that the star fulfilled a prophesy, known as the Star Prophecy. Astronomers have made several attempts to link the star to unusual celestial events, such as a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, a comet or a supernova.
Myself being a Christian, takes this story very seriously and believe it to be true. However, some modern scholars do not consider the story to be describing a historical event but a pious fiction created by the author of the Gospel of Matthew.
This subject is a favorite at planetarium shows during the Christmas season, although the account describes Jesus with a broader Greek word which I cannot place into this post because my computer does not have the keys to support it. However, it means in Greek either “infant” or “child” (Paidion), rather than the specific word for infant in greek, (brephos), possible implying that some time has passed since the birth. The visit is traditionally celebrated on Epiphany (January 6) in Western Christianity.
In the Gospel of Matthew account, the Magi (often translated as “wise men”, but more accurately astrologers) arrive at the court of Herod in Jerusalem and tell the king of a star which signifies the birth of the King of the Jews: Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the East [or at its rising] and have come to worship him. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all of Jerusalem with him. Were n he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
I am taking this directly out of a history book, by the way, and wanted to let you know so you do not think I am plagerizing my writing. The story contuse with King Herod being troubled, not Because of the appearance of the star, but because the Magi have told him that a “king of the Jews”had been born which he understands to refer to the Messiah, a leader of the Jewish people whose coming was believed to be foretold in scripture. So he asks his advisors where the Messiah has been born. They answer Bethlehem, birthplace of King David, and quote the prophet Micah. The king passes this information along to the Magi.
King Herod determined from the wise men after secretly calling them, what time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, go an search carefully for the young Child, and when you’ve found him, report back to me, that I may come and worship Him also. When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. When they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and Worshiped Him. They present Jesus with gifts opening their treasures. They present Jesus with gifts of gold, Frankincense and myrrh, and as verse 11 describes: “they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. In a dream, they are warned never to return to Jerusalem, so they leave for their own country by another route. When Herod realizes he has been tricked, he orders the execution of all male children in Bethlehem “two years old and younger,” based on the age the child could be in regard to the information the magi had given him concerning the time the star first appeared. Joseph, warned in a dream, takes his family to Egypt for their safety. The Gospel links the escape to a verse from scripture, which it interprets as a prophecy: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” . This was a reference to the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt under Moses, so the quote suggests that Matthew saw the life of Jesus as recapitulating the story of the Jewish people, with Judea representing Egypt and Herod standing in for pharaoh, After Herod dies, Joseph and his family return from Egypt, and settle in Nazareth in Galilee. This is also said to be a fulfillment of a prophecy (“He will be called a Nazorean,” (NRSV) which could be attributed to Judges 13:5 regarding the birth of Samson and the Narazite vow. The word “Nazareth” is related to the word “netzer” which means “sprout”, and which some Bible commentators think refers to Isaiah 11:1, “And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit.” (ESV)
If the story of the Star of Bethlehem described an actual event, it might identify the year Jesus was born. The Gospel of Matthew describes the birth of Jesus as taking place when Herod was king. According to Josephus, Herod died after a lunar eclipse and before a Passover Feast. The eclipse is usually identified as the eclipse of March 13, 4 BC. Other scholars suggested dates in 5 BC, because it allows seven months for the events Josephus documented between the Lunar eclipse and the Passover panther than the 29 days allowed by lunar eclipse in 4 BC. Others suggest it was an eclipse in 1 BC. The narrative implies that Jesus was born sometime between the first appearance of the strand the appearance of the Magi at Herod’s court. That the king is said to have ordered the execution of boys two years of age and younger implies that the Car of Bethlehem appeared within the preceding two years. Other scholars do not concur.
Interestingly, in the Orthodox Church, the Star of Bethlehem is interpreted as a miraculous event of symbolic and pedagogical significance, regardless of whether it coincides with a natural phenomenon; a sign sent by God to lead the Magi to the Christ Child. This is illustrated in the Troparion of the Nativity:
Your birth, O Christ our God, dawned the light of knowledge upon the earth. For by your birth those who adored stars were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Justice, and to know You, Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to You.
Because we have discussed in the previous post about the history of Christmas, we know it is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Star, seems to be portrayed as a holy part of this.