Note from H. L. Nigro: I hope you enjoy this month's Christmas trivia, and I hope it encourages you in more ways than one. This is the actual text I used in a sidebar to a secular business-to-business newsletter that I send out to the printing and publishing marketplace.
Believe it or not, there have been no unsubscribes so far resulting from this intrusion of faith. It's just one example of the many ways we can find ways to bring issues of faith into the business world.
Does this overtly share the gospel? No, but it plants the seed that faith is reasonable and that the stories in the Bible can be trusted as historic and factual.
Christmas Trivia: The Real Bethlehem Star?
The Bible tells of three wise men (or magi) who followed a star to the stable where Jesus was laid. Many people think of this story as a fable. But did you know that there were, in fact, unusual signs in the heavens at the time of Jesus' birth?
At that time, eastern astrologers (magi) would have been tracking several highly unusual planetary conjunctions, or rare astronomical occurrences in which the orbits of passing planets place them in the same approximate location in the sky and cause those stars to appear to be a single, extremely bright star. In ancient Mesopotamia, such events were seen as signs heralding great events upon the earth.
At the time of Jesus' birth, astrologers would have been watching two sets of conjunctions. First was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation Pisces in 7 B.C., about the time Jesus was born. The second was the near conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in Pisces in February 6 B. C., after the wise men's visit with King Herod.
The final near-conjunction of the stars would have coincided with the time the Bible records the wise men visited Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem and could account for the famous Star of Bethlehem.
The first conjunction of the 7 B.C.E triple conjunction occurred in late May when the wise men may have started their journey. The second conjunction occurred in late September when they were visiting King Herod and the third conjunction appeared in the south towards Bethlehem in early December after Herod had sent them on their way.
The close grouping of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn to within 8 degrees of each other in Pisces occurs only once every 800 years. Jupiter was the "star" of royalty and luck and Saturn was the star of the Mesopotamian deity who protected Israel. Both of these rare conjunctions could have been predicted by the "wise men from the East'" and could have been interpreted by them that a great king was to be born in Israel (Herod, king of the Jews at the time and very paranoid about being displaced, was therefore upset at this news).
Though Jupiter and Saturn never got close enough together to be confused