Two Startling Facts about the Bible
The Bible is number one most purchased, mass produced book in history, but the sad fact is that most people that own a Bible have never completely read it. Another fact is that there are more historical records and documentation to prove it's authenticity. In over 2000 years this book has never changed. Sure it has been translated in almost every language on Earth, but it has never changed over time. You can pick up a Bible and read a chapter in Isaiah and then refer to the Dead Sea Scrolls (some of which date back to before Christ) and they are the same today as they were over 2000 years ago.
Although the Bible has never changed, many ideas and misconceptions permeate our culture. Therefore, I have compiled a list of commonly held misconceptions in the form of questions and answers.
1. What was the fruit offered to Eve from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden?
Most people will guess that it was an apple. The fact is, no one really knows. The Bible speaks of the tree and calls it the Tree of the Knowledge of Good an Evil, but does not specifically name the fruit thereof. "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate." Genesis 3:6.
Many people have called it an apple or a pomegranate or a pear, but none of them are mentioned and in fact, the tree itself was likely one of a kind like the Tree of Life.
2. How many wise men came to present Gifts to Jesus?
The common answer is three, but the fact is, no one really knows. The idea of three wise men was likely contrived because of the fact that there were three gifts, (Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh). Some people called them Kings, but they were not kings. This idea was also contrived using Old testament Prophecies about the kings of the Earth coming to Jerusalem to present gifts to The Messiah, which is actually a prophecy about the millennial reign of Christ, the Davidic Covenant (which is yet to come).
One thing we do know, is that their were at least two because the word used is Magi (which is a plural form of the word). The word used is a middle eastern word. Magi were the wise men, the magicians, sorcerers, astrologers, wizards and consultants to the Kings of Babylon and Persia. Daniel was a magi for Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon and when the Medo-Persian empire conquered the Babylonian empire, Daniel was revered by the conquering kings because of his spirit and made a chief governor by Darius the Mede. Additionally, he was the on who likely presented the Isaiah Scroll to the Persian king Cyrus, which predicted the king by name, that he would rebuild the Jerusalem. It is very likely that the Persian Magi of Jesus' time had a Scroll of Daniel and were able to predict the birth of Christ according to Daniel 11. It is possible that Daniel made other scrolls, which are not found in the Bible, specifically for the Persians for that event.
It is also another commonly held misconception that the wise men (Magi), arrived at around the time Jesus was born as he lay in a manger. Nativity sets across the country show the scene with the baby Jesus in a manager surrounded by Mary, Joseph, three wise men, shepherds angels and animals. In Luke we find the the Manger Story:
"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child." Luke 2:7-17
Above we find Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, as well as the Shepherds, but no Magi (wise men) or no angels. The angels went back to Heaven before the shepherds went to Bethlehem to see the newborn king. The magi never show up for what may have been 1-2 years later as we find below:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh." Matthew 2:1-11
Above we find that the wise men (magi) arrive at a house, not a little barn or shed or lean-too, they arrive at a house and find a young child and his mother. Again, there is no specific number of wise men mentioned. One thing is certain, they had to go to King Herod 1st. Why? They likely had a large entourage of soldiers with them from their home land to protect them and protect the treasure. This would certainly have startled the local Judean kingdom, especially since the Persians were not really friendly toward Herod or the Romans since the land had violently changed hands between the two empires recently. If I had to guess, I would say there was likely a handful of wise men and probably 10 - 20 or more soldiers to protect the caravan.