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Featured Matthew and that star

Discussion in 'Biblical Debates' started by Rough Beast Sloucher, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    Today’s Bible Study discussion from Bible Gateway Plus is about the Tower of Babel passage in Genesis 11:1-9. The discussion is interesting in itself but what really interested me was that several of the linked study resources talked about the Babylonian ziggurats as intended to be pathways for the assorted gods to enter their temples. The Babylonians were big on astrology which led to descriptive astronomy. Whether this was ever intended when the ziggurats were built, they served nicely as places for observing the stars, high above the fires and smoke of the city with a good view of the entire sky.

    Matthew 2 tells the story of the Wise Men seeing a star ‘as it rose’ or ‘in the east’, a start that went ahead of them leading them to travel west seeking the newborn King of the Jews in Jerusalem. Then, having been told the King of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem, were overjoyed to find the star standing over Bethlehem.

    Pretty confusing stuff. But a professional astronomer named Kidger put forth a hypothesis about how all of this made sense if one interpreted it as an astronomer would in light of a series of impressive if perfectly natural astronomical phenomena that had recently taken place. Not only does this hypothesis make sense of Matthew’s account, it gives a reason for Babylonian astronomers to go to Jerusalem looking for a newborn King of the Jews. It is not my intention to go into the details. The hypothesis involves triple conjunctions and heliacal risings and Babylonian mythology and such esoterica. I did delve into this and IMO it beats the pants off all the other ideas on the subject I have seen.

    However as I said my purpose is not to wax astronomical. Rather it is to raise the notion that this is another instance of Matthew referring to scripture to bolster his narrative, if only obliquely. The otherwise confusing star narrative introduces the possibility that Matthew came across some record of these events by wise men from the east who really came to Jerusalem for the stated purpose, and thought it a perfect addition to his gospel.

    The Tower of Babel passage has God punishing the people, apparently of Babylon, for using their Tower to contact heaven just as the ziggurats were used. It would be intriguing if Matthew has a subtext going on about the ziggurats being used for observing stars to be a means for the people of Babylon to recognize the real God come to earth and go to worship him.


    An idea anyway …
     
  2. Enoch07

    Enoch07 It's all a sick freaking joke.
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    God punished the people of Babel for building the tower.

    The tower was built with the goal of being tall enough to reach heaven. That way you could simply walk the stairs to get into heaven. Not that this was even possible mind you. But the intent behind it is very blasphemous.
     
  3. socharlie

    socharlie Active Member

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    star that lead Magi was symbolical and meant ZoroAster.
     
  4. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    Hello and welcome to RF.:)

    The account in Matthew has some interesting detail that is often overlooked. The "wise men" are called "magi" in the Greek text (from which we get the word "magic".....along with astrology, it was something forbidden to be practiced among God's people. Deuteronomy 18:9-12) These Babylonian astrologers saw "his star" in the east and followed it, not to Bethlehem, but to Jerusalem, where a wicked and jealous King got wind of their intent to honor one "born King of the Jews". This led to Herod hatching a plot to destroy this threat to his kingship and that of his sons after him, by having all the infants in Bethlehem put to death. Only after they had been interviewed by the king, did the magi then follow the star which 'stopped' right above the "house" (not the stable) where Jesus was no longer a newborn infant but a "young child"....hence Herod's actions in killing babies 2 years of age and under.

    It is also wrongly translated that they "worshiped" the child in addition to giving him their precious gifts. The Greek word used is pro·sky·neʹo which corresponds closely to the Hebrew term hish·ta·chawahʹ in expressing the thought of obeisance and, at times, worship. Was the intent of the magi to "worship" this new king? Clearly not because they had come to honor royalty, not divinity. So it is "obeisance" that they rendered to Jesus as a new king, not to a god.

    Trying to make sense of anything biblical in scientific terms is useless. If you need a scientific explanation for everything then faith becomes redundant. God requires faith. (Hebrews 11:6)

    Babel’s God-defying program centered around construction of a religious tower “with its top in the heavens.” It was not built for the worship and praise of the true God, but was dedicated to false man-made religion, with a motive of making a “celebrated name” for the builders. (Genesis 11:4)

    Legend has it that it was built with its 'top in the heavens' so that if God ever sent another flood, they would have somewhere to take refuge and to escape his punishments. They didn't count on a change in language messing up their project.....just as satan didn't anticipate God barring the way to the "tree of life" in the garden. God is always in control even when things seem to be out of control. :D
     
    #4 Deeje, Dec 25, 2017
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  5. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity What Does the Fox Say?
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    Genesis 11 follows the story of Noah in which a covenant is given. I think that covenant suggests all of the land should be farmed. In Genesis 11 people are refusing to spread out. This implies that they are going to break the covenant of noah by refusing to farm the land and bring peace everywhere. There are two problems with the tower: refusal to spread and fulfill the covenant of Noah and also some other problem, probably the centralization of power and oppression of surrounding people. The reason I think its not directly related to Babylonian astrology is that the entire story, starting with the story of Noah is a complete reversal of Babylonian ideals. Yes there are similar items but opposite morals, political ideas and opposite goals. Babylonian Gilgamesh epic glorifies battle and bloodletting, but the Noah story is about non-violence. The Babylonians are famed for cities and centralized power, but the story of the tower is about spreading everywhere. The story in the Bible has a theme no Babylonian lord can appreciate. The Babylonians worship Marduk (war) and believe in aggregating together all people through war -- somewhat like the Romans. Peace through war is their thing, but the stories of Noah and then of the Tower of Babel oppose that.

    Matthew chapter 2 mentions a star. I cannot account for its importance, however its probably not related to Babylonian mysticism or Zoroaster. Stars that move are planets or other objects which are not stars, but ancient people do not usually know it. Venus is considered to be a star. A wondering star seems to be an ill omen (going by a comment in Jude.) In many cultures wandering stars foretell of calamity but may be harbingers of political change or affirmation. In Matthew the star is associated with a political change -- a new king anticipated to bring peace on earth. Peace is the common thread, not the Babylonian symbols.
     
  6. URAVIP2ME

    URAVIP2ME Veteran Member

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    I would like to add that the so-called ' Wise Men ' were Not kings but astrologers.
    The un-numbered magi or astrologers were never at the manger scene.
    By the time they found Jesus he was a young child living in a house as per chapter 2 of Matthew.
    Where was the house. Remember Joseph and Mary's home was in Nazareth.- Luke 2:39.
    They only traveled to Bethlehem/Jerusalem for a temporary visit for tax registration,etc. and Not a move.
    It was Herod who sent them to Bethlehem, but where did the *star* lead them to the child as per Matthew 2:9.

    The real God of Heaven did Not come to Earth, rather God sent His heavenly per-human Son to Earth to worship his God.- John 4:23-24.
     
  7. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    How tall the tower was to be is unclear. The Hebrew word ‘shamayim’ can mean Heaven where God abides or it can mean the sky. The problem is that the word is always in the plural form. In Genesis 1:20 birds fly in the heavens. Same word. Its meaning depended on context. Those birds were not flying around God’s head in Heaven but up in the sky.

    A “tower that reaches to the heavens” could be a euphemism for something really tall, similar to ‘skyscraper’ which does not literally scrape the sky. Nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about people climbing up to heaven. The impression I get is that they wanted to build a really impressive city and tower to identify themselves as a single cohesive people.

    Genesis 11:4 “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

    That last part reminds me of the theory of great public works as nation builders. People from all over the king’s land would be conscripted and brought to the construction site. For example, young unmarried males when the harvesting was complete. This not only kept them out of trouble but had them meet those from other parts of the land, all of them working together on something really big and imposing that they could be proud of and tell the people back home about. In this way they would come to see themselves as citizens of the realm and not just backwater hicks. The stories they later told their children and grandchildren would help spread that attitude to others.
     
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  8. URAVIP2ME

    URAVIP2ME Veteran Member

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    Perhaps, Not so much as to walk into heaven, but I find more like that they could go to the top of the Tower of Babylon if there was another huge flood and be safe in the tower and Not need an Ark. So, I find the intent was to avoid having to build and Ark, and if a flood came by surprise they could be safe from the flood inside of the tower.
     
  9. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    You are absolutely correct in that the Wise Men were not kings and their number was never given.

    The star leading the Wise Men to Nazareth does not work well. Matthew has the family go to Egypt after the Wise Men visit and only on the return from Egypt do they go to Nazareth, and that as a second choice.

    Matthew and Luke present different details concerning the Nativity. Matthew has Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem without explaining why they are there. Luke has the tax census story. Matthew has them go to Egypt, which Luke does not mention. Matthew has them return from Egypt not to Judaea, where Bethlehem is, because Joseph is afraid of the current ruler but to Nazareth in Galilee. Luke simply has them go home from Bethlehem to Nazareth where they started. Matthew and Luke do not seem to be in agreement on who did what when.This is often the case with them.

    The human-divine status of Jesus is really a different topic. I am not terribly interested in going there since it does not affect my proposition. I imagine this is already well-trodden territory anyway.
     
  10. Enoch07

    Enoch07 It's all a sick freaking joke.
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    If you notice in Genesis 4:17

    Cain goes out into the land of Nod to marry and start a family. His genealogy starts here. Now pay attention to the names of his children/grandchildren.

    Cain->Enoch->Irad->Mehujael->Methusael->Lamech

    Then examine Adam/Seth's genealogy.

    Adam->Seth->Enos->Cainan->Enos->Mahahaleel->Jared->Enoch->Methusalah->Lamech

    Notice anything?

    Cain's people always mimiced God's chosen people, in every way. By emulating their names, traditions, and even their own version of God, which is not the God of Abraham, but in fact it is Satan who they worship. Jesus is commenting on this in John 8:37-44 and Revelations 3:9.

    37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

    38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

    39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

    40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.

    41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

    42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

    43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

    44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

    Revelations 3:9

    9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
     
  11. URAVIP2ME

    URAVIP2ME Veteran Member

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    Thank you for your reply.
    I find one gospel writer does Not have to repeat what the others say.
    It is one gospel account with four writers. Four views. The gospel according to Matthew, etc.

    Remember: a trip to Jerusalem was an annual one.- Luke 2:41,
    Yes, the family does go to Egypt after the magi visit. That gold gift provided the funds to make that trip possible.
    Luke has them going from Nazareth to Bethlehem as per Luke 2:4
    After the 40 days - Luke 2:22 - then they return home to Nazareth as per Luke 2:39-40.
    By the time the magi found Jesus in a house, not a manger, was the house in Nazareth or Jerusalem, or ?
    Is there a reason you find they could Not have left for Egypt from Nazareth other then Jerusalem/Bethlehem is closer to Egypt. I see no particular place mentioned by Matthew at Matthew 2:9-11, but if they returned to Jerusalem for that annual visit and that is where the house was with the child Jesus at that later time.
    So, I don't see any disagreement because of the annual trips to Jerusalem.
     
  12. Electra

    Electra l'attendue

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    or is a star a symbol for the beacon of intuition.
     
  13. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    Thanks!

    In the Kidger hypothesis I mentioned at the start, the series of astronomical events culminating in a nova, when interpreted in terms of Babylonian mythology of the time would have added to a newborn King of the Jews. It is not the star that led them to Jerusalem but astrology. The details of the hypothesis are complicated and I am skipping them. But the star would have appeared over the horizon a few minutes later each evening as the earth went around the sun. Since stars cross the sky every night as the earth rotates on its axis, the position of a star is given as seen at dawn.

    In a reasonable sounding timeframe based on the first appearance of the nova as recorded by the Chinese, figuring caravan speeds and other factors, Kidger has the wise men reach Jerusalem as the star would be up in the sky due south at dawn. That is, it would be above Bethlehem six miles due south of Jerusalem. Since they had just been told to look in Jerusalem, they would naturally be ‘overjoyed’ to see the star over Bethlehem.

    Matthew 2:7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.

    Matthew 2: 16 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.

    A detail never mentioned by Kidger is that the series of events that got the Magi up and moving spans almost exactly two years from the start until Herod speaks with them. Herod appears to be taking the time from the first appearance of the astronomical events, not just the star/nova itself, and using that as the earliest possible date of the birth of this ‘king’. As I said, Kidger never mentioned this. But it works neatly as support for his hypothesis as maybe something completely real. If instead one takes the two years as the time from the appearance of the one and only sign, the star, the question pops up of what kept them?

    I have addressed the contention that the star led the Magi to Nazareth instead of Bethlehem in another recent post. Matthew has the family go to Egypt after the Magi visit and sometime later went to Nazareth and that only because Bethlehem was still too dangerous.

    I agree that the proper translation would be obeisance, not worship. Matthew is very much about Jesus being the King of the Jews, which the Messiah is supposed to be according to the Jewish scriptures. Matthew is noticeably more Jewish in his outlook than the other gospels. He also has Jesus be the ‘New Moses’, that is, the bringer of a new covenant.

    The Kidger hypothesis is an interesting one since it points to a potentially close correspondence between what sounds like a fantasy story and scientific reality without much bending and twisting required.

    There are a number of traditions about the Tower of Babel that do not appear in the Bible. For one, there is Nimrod shooting his arrow at Heaven from the top of the tower. Not in the Bible. The second flood one runs counter to the promise of God not to do that again in Genesis 9:12-16. Anyway, wouldn’t God notice the tower. :D
     
  14. socharlie

    socharlie Active Member

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    Matthew explained where Christology and traditions came from:
    “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.” in Egyptian "out of Egypt" is :"al khemet" = aschemy.
    Bethlehem - House of Bread - that what Egypt was for the ancient world.
    "there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread." Gen 41:53.
    Christology came from Egypt, in the days of Jesus in Roman world they knew only Virgin Isis.
    Egypt was the grand civilization with advance consciousness that the Sons of Israel were sent to adopt though Moses. (see 42 Principles of Maat). The second trip of the Sons of Israel was into Persia to learn from Zoroastrianism. E.g. in Judaism Satan was servant angel of God, later it became like Achriman .

    another tradition:
    “He shall be called a Nazarene.” It Came from nazarene - esseness - therapeutae line.
     
    #14 socharlie, Dec 25, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
  15. The Ragin Pagan

    The Ragin Pagan A.K.A. The Kilted Heathen

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    Not really. Using an astrology program, I once went back to when (and where) Jesus would have been born. The "star" that moved to lead the Magi East was very strongly Venus, which also gets brighter as it nears the horizon. I might have to find the date and try to record that.
     
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  16. socharlie

    socharlie Active Member

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    it a system - See my post #15 above. I am not exclude several levels of explanations to be valid.
    Мы дети Богa
     
  17. The Ragin Pagan

    The Ragin Pagan A.K.A. The Kilted Heathen

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    Seems like overly reading into things to me. About on the same level as that woman who claims that Monster energy drinks are symbols of the antichrist.
     
  18. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    I was not suggesting that the Tower of Babel narrative in Genesis 11 had anything to do with Babylonian astrology other than the simple fact that Babylonian ziggurats were used for better observing the stars. I was talking about the journey of the Magi possibly being inspired by a series of astronomical signs that in Babylonian astrology added up to a newborn King of the Jews. My proposition was that Matthew may have come across a detailed account of what the Wise Men said to Herod and incorporated it in his narrative. Further, that Matthew had in mind a reference to the Babylonian ziggurats as pathways for gods to come down to their temples and having Babylonian astrologers implicitly admit their error by coming to pay homage to an real actual divine entity who came to earth not by any ziggurat. Matthew’s imagery is often subtle and complex.

    Opposition to the Babylonian Empire would be a natural attitude for the Hebrews after being conquered and oppressed by the Babylonians. Having God lay a heavy hand on them would be a satisfying story. In addition to being an explanation for there being different languages, the story would resonate with later generations of Jews. The widespread agriculture versus centralized power aspect might tie into another recent post of mine about major works being a centralizing tool. Sounds like this could be a new insight, to me anyway. Have to mull this over.

    The word ‘star’ at that time would also encompass planets, comets and so on. In the Kidger hypothesis, the star would be a nova and would not wander around. The motion that appears to be implied in Matthew 2 becomes understandable as perfectly natural when understood as the amateur Matthew copying the language used by professional astronomers without really understanding it. Or so the hypothesis goes.
     
  19. socharlie

    socharlie Active Member

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    это гностицизм
     
  20. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    Holey Moley Batman!. I cannot keep up with all the replies! I need to go away now but will be back tomorrow to try to catch up.
     
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