In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. (Matthew 2:1-12, NRSV)
The wise men saw the star and came to visit Jesus.
Were they there when Jesus was born?
How many were there? Well there was more than 1. As the text says wise men, but more than 1 is 2 or more.
Why then do we say there were 3? Well there were 3 gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, but that doesn’t mean there were only 3 wise men. There could have been 9 of them and 3 of them had gold and 3 of them had frankincense and 3 of them had myrrh. Or any variation thereof.
And no where in our texts do they have names.
Why are we so hung up on knowing all of the details?
The story tells us a star appeared at the birth of Jesus and some men from the east saw it, and they knew it was foretold to be the star of a new king, so they journeyed to seek him. That is the important part here, they journeyed to seek him.
Do you seek him?