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THE STORY OF THE STAR AND THE WISE MEN

For some time after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary stayed with him in
Bethlehem. The little baby was not kept long in the stable sleeping in a
manger; for after a few days they found room in a house; and there
another visit was made to Jesus by strange men from a land far away.

In a country east of Judea, and many miles distant, were living some
very wise men who studied the stars. One night they saw a strange star
shining in the sky, and in some way they learned that the coming of this
star meant that a king was soon to be born in the land of Judea. These
men felt a call of God to go to Judea, far to the west of their own
home, and there to see this new-born king. They took a long journey,
with camels and horses, and at last they came to, the land of Judea,
just at the time when Jesus was born at Bethlehem. As soon as they were
in Judea, they supposed that every one would know all about the king,
and they said:

“Where is he that is born king of the Jews? In the east we have seen his
star, and we have come to worship him.”

But no one of whom they asked had ever seen this king, or had heard of
him. The news of their coming was sent to Herod the king, who was now a
very old man. He ruled the land of Judea, as you know, under the emperor
at Rome, Augustus Csar. Herod was a very wicked man, and when he heard
of some one born to be a king, he feared that he might lose his own
kingdom. He made up his mind to kill this new king.

He sent for the priests and scribes, the men who studied and taught the
books of the Old Testament, and asked them about this Christ for whom
all the people were looking. He said: “Can you tell me where Christ, the
king of Israel, is to be born?” They looked at the books of the
prophets, and then they said: “He is to be born in Bethlehem of Judea;
for thus it is written by the prophet, ‘And thou Bethlehem in the land
of Judah are not the least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee
shall come forth one who shall rule my people Israel.'”

Then Herod sent for the wise men from the east, and met them alone, and
found from them at what time the star was first seen. Then he said to
them:

“Go to Bethlehem; and there search carefully for the little child; and
when you have found him, bring me word again, so that I also may come
and worship him.”

Then the wise men went on their way toward Bethlehem; and suddenly they
saw the star again shining upon the road before them. At this they were
glad, and followed the star until it led them to the very house where
the little child was. They came in, and there they saw the little one,
with Mary, its mother. They knew at once that this was the king; and
they fell down on their faces and worshipped him as the Lord. Then they
brought out gifts of gold and precious perfumes, frankincense and myrrh,
which were used in offering sacrifices; and they gave them as presents
to the royal child.

That night God sent a dream to the wise men, telling them not to go back
to Herod, but to go home at once to their own land by another way. They
obeyed the Lord, and found another road to their own country without
passing through Jerusalem where Herod was living. So Herod could not
learn from those men who the child was that was born to be a king.

And very soon after these wise men had gone away, the Lord sent another
dream to Joseph, the husband of Mary. He saw an angel, who spoke to him,
saying:

“Rise up quickly; take the little child and his mother, and go down to
the land of Egypt, for Herod will try to find the child to kill him.”

Then at once Joseph rose up in the night, without waiting even for the
morning. He took his wife and her baby, and quietly and quickly went
with them down to Egypt, which was on the southwest of Judea. There they
all stayed in safety, as long as the wicked king Herod lived, which was
not many months.

King Herod waited for the wise men to come back to him from their visit
to Bethlehem; but he soon found that they had gone to their home
without bringing to him any word. Then Herod was very angry. He sent out
his soldiers to Bethlehem. They came, and by the cruel king’s command
they seized all the little children in Bethlehem who were three years
old, or younger, and killed them all. What a cry went up to God from the
mothers in Bethlehem, as their children were torn from their arms and
slain!

[Illustration: _He took his wife and baby and went down to Egypt_]

But all this time, the child Jesus whom they were seeking was safe with
his mother in the land of Egypt.

Soon after this king Herod died, a very old man, cruel to the last. Then
the angel of the Lord came again and spoke to Joseph in a dream, saying:
“You may now take the young child back to his own land, for the king who
sought to kill him is dead.”

Then Joseph took his wife and the little child Jesus, and started to go
again to the land of Judea. Perhaps it was his thought to go again to
Bethlehem, the city of David, and there bring up the child. But he heard
that in that part of the land Archelaus, a son of Herod, was now ruling,
and who was as wicked and cruel as his father.

He feared to go under Archelaus’ rule, and instead took his wife and the
child to Nazareth, which had been his own home and that of Mary his wife
before the child was born. Nazareth was in the part of the land called
Galilee, which at that time was ruled by another son of king Herod, a
king named Herod Antipas. He was not a good man, but was not so cruel
nor bloody as his wicked father had been.

So again Joseph the carpenter and Mary his wife were living in Nazareth.
And there they stayed for many years while Jesus was growing up. Jesus
was not the only child in their house, and he had many other playmates
among the boys of Nazareth.

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