This is from a study I did several years ago about Christmas.  The part below is the outline designed to answer the question… “Who were the ‘Wise Men from the east’ as found in Matthew 2:1-2?”  

Some Common Misconceptions:

  First… we don’t know how many there were (“We three kings of orient are…”). 

  Second… We do know they weren’t kings… they were astronomers and learned men (See below). 

  Third… We don’t know they were from “The Orient,” but we do know they came from east of Jerusalem. 

  Fourth… We don’t know they rode camels… but the probably did. 

  Fifth… We don’t know their names were Caspar, Balthazar, and Melchior.  The elaborate story that we know today can be found in the Historia Trium Regum, the History of the Three Kings, which is attributed to the fourteenth-century cleric John of Hildesheim.

Here are the things we do know:

  First… They arrived knowing about the Messiah. 

  Second… They gave gifts and then returned home. 

  Third… They were called “Magi.”

Who “Magi” were in the Old Testament (Old Covenant): 

  First… These men were skilled in sorcery (See Daniel 4:7 and 5:7, thus “magic.”).

  Second… Their laws and practices were known during Biblical times.  For instance… Laws of the Medes and the Persians (Thus the term “Magistrate”).  Thus the origination point of the Magi was probably Iran {Ancient Babylon}.  Their laws are mentioned in Daniel 6:8, 12, and 15.  See also Daniel 1:20, 2:2, 4:7, and 5:11

  Third… These men were Daniel’s adversaries (Daniel 1:5-7).

  Fourth… Daniel became their leader (Daniel 2:48).  Knowing Daniel’s character, he most certainly retrained them and taught them the Jewish belief system which would have been consistent with the Hebrew texts.  From Daniel’s teachings being handed down from generation to generation, they could have well ascertained the time of The Messiah’s birth.

Magi In The Birth Narrative…

  First… They were not present when Jesus was born… only Mary and Joseph were there for that event.

  Second… They may have arrived as much as 18 months AFTER Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:16).

  Third… They found Jesus in a house… not a manger (Matthew 2:11).

  Fourth… They returned to their homeland without a word (Matthew 2:12).

The Significance Of The Magi’s Gifts…

  Gold… A gift for a King.  A gift given to royalty.  Aside: God’s provision for Mary and Joseph who were poor to travel to Egypt and return later.

  Frankincense… An expensive fragrance.  Used in Temple worship (Leviticus 2:2).  The gift given to, or by, a priest.

  Myrrh… A substance used in embalming the dead (John 19:39).  When mixed with wine it had an analgesic effect.  When Christ was crucified, he was offered wine mixed with myrrh (Mark 15:23), which He refused.

  Each gift speaks to a portion of Chris’s life: Gold (King), Frankinscense (Priest), Myrrh (Death and resurrection).

Well… that’s all we know.  As Paul Harvey says… “Now you know the REST of the story….”  Have a very merry Christmas!!