Which Way Did They Go? The Magi’s Escape From King Herod -- By: Bruce R. Crew

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 18:4 (Fall 2005)
Article: Which Way Did They Go? The Magi’s Escape From King Herod
Author: Bruce R. Crew


Which Way Did They Go?
The Magi’s Escape From King Herod

Bruce R. Crew

Introduction

One of the most important geo-political powers in the Ancient Near East during New Testament times was a group of people called the Nabateans. The Nabateans comprised an ancient nomadic tribe whose capital lay at Petra, a red sandstone city situated within the mountains of Edom in southern Transjordan. The geo-political emergence of the Nabateans during New Testament times was largely due to their control of the trade routes between the Far East and the eastern Mediterranean region via the Arabian Peninsula. During their zenith, the Nabateans controlled an area of land whose geographical territories included the Arabian Peninsula’s northwest corner, southern Transjordan’s mountains of Edom and Moabite plateau, Israel’s central and southern Negev, and the Sinai Peninsula.

Yet despite their importance during New Testament times, there is little information about the Nabateans in New Testament texts, apart from references that pertain to the Apostle Paul’s escape from Damascus following his miraculous conversion to Christ and subsequent travels in Arabia (Acts 9:22–25; 2 Cor 11:32; Gal 1:15–17). This often leads to a mistaken assumption that the Nabateans played a passive or non-existent role during events surrounding the life of Jesus. However, a careful examination of the geographical information from Biblical and non-Biblical texts, as well as the available archeological evidence, indicates a number of important connections.1 This study involves an exploration of one such connection, the impact made by the Nabateans upon an event often overlooked in Biblical studies, the possible routes taken by the Magi in order to pay homage to the Christ-Child, and their escape from Herod the Great to the land of the Nabateans.

Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus, 5.5 mi (9 km) south of Jerusalem, as seen from the north. Author Crew suggests the Magi paid homage to Jesus here, although some time after His birth—perhaps as long as two years later.

The Location of the Magi’s Visit to the Christ-Child: Bethlehem or Nazareth?

The account of Jesus’ birth in Matthew 2 raises a question as to the exact location of the Magi’s visit to Joseph’s family and the Christ-Child. According to Matthew 2, Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem ...

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