The Magi, The Massacre, Feasts of the Holy Innocents, CHILDERMAS, & mass movements needed this December 28
By Kevin Stoda
Since we are still in the midst of Christmas season-- a season which continues well into January for many Orthodox and African churches--it is appropriate to ponder won of the more beloved and more fearful tales of Christmas Tide. On the one hand, it is the story of the so-called Magi, three mysterious wise men (or kings) from the East. The Magi make the Christ child's humble arrival on earth into a royal affair. On the other hand, in response to these three Magi fleeing the dominion of one King Herod following the birth of a baby Jesus in the town of Bethlehem, a massacre is called out.
According to Matthew 2:16-18, "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:"
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more."[
Reports of the God-child's coming had been prophesied of for centuries. Therefore, as in political families today, the mafia types and King Lears of Jesus' day sought to end his story on earth rather short. As with modern mass-murderers today, like Osama bin Laden, or similar to addicted American warrior-addicts, such as Dick Cheney, the full-appreciation of deaths of hundreds of innocents did not detour King Herod away from his pursuit of protecting his own legacy on earth.
WHO WERE THE MAGI?
According to Herodotus (I, ci). " At the time of the birth of Jesus, the Magi were an ancient priestly caste dwelling within the Parthian empire, a large area to the east of the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire. These priests practiced astrology, which at the time was a hybrid of astrology and what we now call astronomy. They were adept at interpreting dreams (which we possibly get a flavor of in Daniel 2). At the time just prior to the birth of our Lord, the Magi formed the upper house of the Megistanes council, whose duties included the election of the king of the Parthian empire,
Strabo explained (XI, ix, 3), "Thus, the Magi at this time were possibly "kingmakers."
According to Chuck Missler, "The ancient Magi were a hereditary priesthood of the Medes (known today as the Kurds) credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. After some Magi, who had been attached to the Median court, proved to be expert in the interpretation of dreams, Darius the Great established them over the state religion of Persia. (2) (Contrary to popular belief, the Magi were not originally followers of Zoroaster. (3) That all came later.)"
Missler adds, "It was in this dual capacity, whereby civil and political counsel was invested with religious authority, that the Magi became the supreme priestly caste of the Persian empire and continued to be prominent during the subsequent Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian periods."
Missler also claims that one of the prophet Daniel's names in Babylonia and Persian times was "Rab-mag, the Chief of the Magi."
More importantly, in a way, through his leadership role in both the Hebrew Diaspora and in these Eastern Kingdoms, Daniel also played the role of Kingmaker--as well as prophet. "His unusual career included being a principal administrator in two world empires--the Babylonian and the subsequent Persian Empire. When Darius appointed him, a Jew, over the previously hereditary Median priesthood, the resulting repercussions led to the plots involving the ordeal of the lion's den."
Missler summarizes one important legend as follows, " Daniel apparently entrusted a Messianic vision (to be announced in due time by a "star") to a secret sect of the Magi for its eventual fulfillment."