Abraham and the Prophecy of the Magi

Birth of Jesus Christ
Abraham and the Prophecy of the Magi

Among the Old Testament Prophecies concerning the Gentiles coming to the Lord, perhaps the most noteworthy are from Isaiah. This holiday season it seems appropriate to point out that one of these prophecies refers specifically to the Magi. These prominent Gentile astronomers from ancient Persia, were faithful to accurately recognize and pursue the celestial signs revealing the Birth of Christ, and we can find precious few other examples of God’s faithful servants at the end of the OT Law Administration who walked at this critical time in history, with such resilient believing. In Isaiah 60 we find beautiful examples of Messianic prophecies:

Isaiah 60:1-3,

Isa. 60:1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

The word “arise” in verses 1-3, is not only used of the Sun and light in general, but it and two of it’s derivatives occur in [Isaiah 60:1-3, Jer. 23:5]. As we have seen in regards to Jer. 23:5, the planet Jupiter, the sedeq planet is linked with the Messiah, Jesus Christ the righteous zemach-branch, and is one of five primary Old Testament prophecies pertaining to this Branchas the coming promised seed.

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

The rising of Israel referred in a great sense to the birth of the Promised seed, who embodied the rising spiritual light in Israel. Included in the Gentiles coming to this rising light in Israel were the Magi. When the Magi came to Jerusalem and Joseph Mary in Nazareth they presented gifts of Gold, Frankincense and myrrh, [Matt. 2:11]. The record from Matt. 2 below reveals the context where the Magi followed the Star [Jupiter] to where it stood over where the young child was. Another aspect shedding light on the first 3 verses of this record concerns its structure based on Introversion, as seen below:

Isaiah 60:1-3 Israel’s rising is come. 1

A/v. 1 The Rising of Israel
 B/ v. 1 The light shining
   C/ v. 1 The Glory of Jehovah
     D/ v. 2 Darkness covering the earth
     D/ v. 2 Darkness covering the people
   C/ v. 2 The Glory of Jehovah
 B/  v. 3 The light reflected
A/ v. 3 The Rising of Israel 

The central part of the structure above shows how the darkness covering the earth and its inhabitants was chased away by the light of the Messiah shining from Israel. As the Gentile nations were drawn to this spiritual light of the ages, lead by the Magi’s response, those nations responding in service to the Almighty will not only see the Glory of Jehovah, they will share in it. God has made provision for the nations through His New Covenant of salvation, via Jesus Christ. Thus the people of the world have the open door and freewill choice to share in God’s riches, but those who refuse God’s Mercy, will suffer His Judgment.

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Matt. 2:9-11

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. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

 Isaiah’s Prophecy not only refers to the Caravan of the Gentile Magi with their train of camels, but also their gifts of gold, and frankincense along with their most heartfelt gift of joyful homage in praise of the child messiah. Nowhere else do we find this singular description of key elements in reference to the Magi as seen here in Isaiah 60.

Isa. 60:5-7

Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.

The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LordAll the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.

Only this particular band of Persian Magi astronomers, were singled out in their faithful 800-mile caravan across enemy territory, in recognition of the heavenly signs of their long awaited and prophesied Messiah. With their royal gifts fit for a king that abundantly supplied the need for Joseph and Mary to protect and care for their special young son, the intrepid Magi have highlighted the annals of Biblical history sent by God as pathfinders of the Messiah.

The roots of the astronomical practices and expertise of the Magi can be traced back to Abraham, who was called out of Ur of the Chaldees in ancient Babylon. This record not only sets the basis for the history of Biblical astronomy going back to the Patriarchs, here in reference to Abram before he became the Father of many nations, but also details the relationship between God’s Covenant with man and the seed of Abraham. As this record details how God ordered this relationship, a distinction must be made in two categories of numerical order. The first is Cardinal Numbers and the second is Ordinal Numbers. To get a clearer idea of this distinction from a Biblical viewpoint let’s look at a discourse God had with Abraham. The record we will scrutinize is Genesis 15, [cp. Gen. 13:16, 22:17, 32:12]

Genesis 15:1-6 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 And Abram said, Lord God what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed: and lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness.

When God told Abraham to “tell the stars, if thou be able to number them,” do you think He wanted him to get out his abacus and parchment and start counting the stars one by one? Or perhaps God was referring to the promise of the innumerable abundance of Abraham’s posterity, since he was to be the father of many nations? Another possibility is God might have been referring to the inherent celestial order that He first revealed to Adam, who taught it to the rest of the Biblical Patriarchs that followed him. Or maybe God wanted Abram to pay attention to the timekeeping aspects of the stars as he numbered them. There is certainly much more to this record than what tradition holds, as we consider it thoughtfully, from its various aspects. The main key to unlocking the truth in this record lies in avoiding private interpretation and allowing God’s Word to speak for itself. In this process of allowing God to speak through His revealed Word in this record, we should take note of the figure of speech polysyndeton, or many (12) “ands,” that emphasizes each aspect of the verses above, separated by the connective “and.”2

The word for “tell” in verse 5, is the Bible’s first usage of the Hebrew word caphar [H5608], meaning to “inscribe, celebrate, narrate, tell, make known, or praise.” It also carries the meaning of “a scribe, or writerwhen used in reference to a person.”3 This word is used in Psalm 19:1; rendered “declare” in the KJV; as The Heavens declare the glory of God… [Psalm 97:6]. God was telling Abram to look up at the heavens and recount, declare, or narrate the truth revealed in the celestial gospel, if he could. Abram not only did this accurately and well enough to please God, He was assuring Abram that although he is of advanced age and without heirs, he would, nevertheless, have many descendants, seeing that the promised seed, prophesied in the stars would come out of his own loins. For Abram’s acts of believing, God counted [H2803] it to him for righteousness. This is the foundation for salvation by faith in the N.T. [Rom. 4:17-22], because God not only mercifully spares us of the wrathful judgement we deserve due to sin, but He also freely shares the Grace of His righteousness with us, which we do not deserve.

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The Word for “counted” in verse 6 above is chashab in Hebrew meaning to reckon or esteem, meditate, combine or devise.It is also an accounting term used in the context of the 7th Sabbath of years and the sacred 50-year Jubilee system of timekeeping in ancient Israel [Lev. 25:27, 50-52, 27:18, 23]. The Levitical Law shows us both cardinal and ordinal applications of “counting,” in this record, but it does not portray them as inter-changable terms. As we will see from its Biblical usage in this record, the ordinal meaning of a number includes much more than just the numerical sequence, or where a particular number occurs in a series. We can see numerous examples of this especially where God utilizes the phi ratio in His organization of Creation.

God’s statement to Abram builds on an earlier promise in Genesis 13:16, where God would make his “seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” This earlier promise from God to Abram established a relationship between Abram’s seed, or offspring, in the earth, while this later promise in Gen. 15:5 connects Abram’s seed with the stars.

The Hebrew word for “number“-(ed), “manah” [*H4487], means to “divide into parts, or arrange, allot or assign, appoint, or order.”5 Here we can begin to see the difference between what mathematics categorizes as the function of Ordinal Numbers, that specify the order and succession in the elements or hierarchy of a group, as opposed to Cardinal Numbers, that refer simply to counting individual parts. In our recognition of both mathematical categories here, related to the Bible’s first usage of the Hebrew words “caphar” and “manah,” we find on one level, regarding the innumerable posterity of his seed, God was showing Abram, simple counting of parts with Cardinal Numbers, compared to the organization of Abram’s seed in groups related to the celestial order, in Ordinal Numbers. As we consider the context of both promises to Abram in Genesis 13 and 15, we find God showing Abram, the Sexegesimal numerical order he applied numbering the stars, would also apply to ordering his seed!

This is the basis of the relation between the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 signs of the zodiac, recorded later in [Genesis 49, Num. 2], regarding the 12 sons of his grandson Jacob.

The Genesis 15 record tells us that Abram was fully aware of these implications of God’s revelation to him, as he affirmed the story of the promised seed written in the heavens, along with God’s promise to him regarding his seed, with believing. God thus credited him with righteousness. Abram was successful because he didn’t try to invent his own celestial order, by counting all the innumerable stars of the heavens, or alter the 12-fold order of the zodiac God revealed to him, on the contrary, he faithfully received the celestial order set up by God, and looked for the wisdom and blessings contained therein, that God graciously pointed out to him. This powerful truth is what set Abram apart from his Sumerian neighbors back in his home town of Ur of the Chaldees, whose fame still persists for their idolatrous practices in Astrology. God found a faithful man in Abram, who trusted and gave the Almighty the proper praise for His Omniscient Wisdom, that He established in the Order of Creation. As a result, God rewarded him with a new name; “Abraham” and made him the “Father of Many Nations.” As he honored the Creator, Abraham accepted the divine numerical and mathematical order contained in God’s promises to him, not as his own idea, but he acknowledged that the basis of God’s Wisdom is found beyond the category of human wisdom, and its roots reside with the Almighty.

As we have seen above in God’s promise to Abram regarding his seed, the Hebrew word “manah,” denotes the Ordinal function of numbers. “Manah” is the root for a related Latin word used in the context of a unit of currency, or “money,” and was also “unit of weight called a ‘mina;’ or pound that was divided into 60 shekels.”6 The ancient talent was indeed divided into 50 minas of 60 shekels. There is another related Hebrew root of this word, which carries nuances for divisions of time, seen in the division of the Israel’s calendar into the sacred and civil, on Nisan and Tishri 1. This example is also detailed in our website [www.try-god.com] article “The Calendar of the Biblical Patriarchs,” showing how the divine mathematical standard was adopted in the classical world and handed down to us today. A key to the temporal order is found in the celestial time-keepers, whose orbits, rule over the order of all terrestrial temporal cycles. In this way the stars shed the physical light of their mathematical order upon the Earth, in the universal temporal order of our planet. There is more Biblical evidence of the standard division of currency reflected above in the book of Ezekiel, where Hebrew currency: “maneh” was measured according to a 60 shekel Sexegesimal standard, as a sub-division of the shekel of the sanctuary. God’s divine system is always right “on the money.”

Ezekiel 45:12 And the shekel shall be twenty gerahs: twenty shekels, five and twenty shekels, fifteen shekels, shall be your maneh. (15+ 20+ 25 =60)

Here Ezekiel depicts a pattern of regular counting (3,4,5) of Cardinal Numbers whose totals (multiplied by 5), yield the base 60 Ordinal Number system, which is found consistent throughout multiple levels of Creation and was a dominant Ordinal standard in ancient cultures, from Babylon, to India and Greece, even ancient Mexico. The mathematical organization of this ordinal system is found in the idea that the shekel, as a building block of a Sexegesimal order, was subdivided itself according to a pattern of 20 gerahs. We have already seen this numerical pattern reflected in the celestial order, in the cycle of Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions every 20 years, forming a larger cycle of 60-year unions, in the temporal order of our solar system. This celestial order relating to Jupiter and Saturn is one reason they were deemed the rulers of the temporal world (cronocraters) in many an ancient cosmology. Ultimately, this planetary Conjunction cycle opens a window unto the master base 60 cycle ruling the firmament, the precession of the equinoxes, [25,920/60 yrs=432] gives us an example of God marking the Intelligent Design of His creation with His mathematical Symmetry. God illustrates this principle by His use of the phi ratio, or the mathematics of the golden section, on successively larger scales in Creation, from the micro to the macro [Eph. 2:18-22]. For a detailed treatment of the phi ratio in the Creator’s Intelligent Design of the solar system and many other aspects of Creation, please refer to (www.spirasolaris.ca/sbb4c.html).

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There are other scriptural accounts comparing Israel’s multitude to the innumerable stars and the sands of the sea which are good subjects for further study;  (Gen. 16:1-16, 21:1-3, Gen. 22:17, Gen. 32:4-13)

The Prophet Jeremiah also was inspired with these ancient metaphors conveying God’s assurance that the kingship of David’s family and the service of the priesthood would continue. “Like the host of heaven which cannot be counted, and the sand of the sea which cannot be measured, so will I multiply the offspring of my servant David, and of the Levites who minister to Me.” (Jer. 33:1, 22)

As we claim our place in God’s eternal inheritance, we should never forget that our pathway through the Stars to God’s own Right Hand was mapped out for us in eternity past in the foreknowledge of the Almighty, [Eph. 1:4].

Thanks Be to God for His abundant Grace and Mercy to the Faithful in Christ Jesus this Holiday Season…



1. Companion Bible, E.W. Bullinger -Marginal notes on [Isa. 60:1-3]. 

2. Figures of Speech used in the Bible,- Polysyndeton E.W. Bullinger

3. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon. note on #H5608.

4. IBID note on #H2803.

5. IBID note on #H4487.

6. The Heritage of the Past, from the Earliest Times to 1500. p.93. Stewart C. Easton.

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Rene Fretz

My first interest in Biblical Astronomy was sparked during the study of the celestial signs surrounding the Birth of Christ in the late 70's and early 80's. This grew into a greater interest in Astronomy, resulting in numerous studies, clubs and activities as an amateur astronomer. Starting around 2003 I began working on the Try-God website, as a venue to publish my various articles and studies in Biblical Astronomy, which in the last 10 years, has garnered interest from an audience around the globe. With renewed effort and energy, we are expanding on our initial efforts with the website, for a more effective outreach to our growing audience.