What was the Star of Bethlehem and what did the wise men or Magi actually see?!
There are only 12 verses in the Bible about the wise men and the star!
What the Bible Says: Matthew 2:1-12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 'In Bethlehem in Judea,' they replied, 'for this is what the prophet has written: "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.'
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
So what was the Star?
The wise men or Magi came from an area which is now in either Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or the Yemen (then known as Persia, Arabia and Sheba). They're often called the 'Three Kings', but the Bible doesn't say how many there were, or that they were even kings! They became three because of the gifts they brought with them.
They were indeed 'wise men'. The Magi were 'Magupati', a title given to priests in a sect of the ancient Persian religions such as Zoroastrianism. Today we'd called them astrologers. Back then astronomy and astrology were part of the same overall studies (and 'science') and went hand in hand with each other. The magi would have followed the patterns of the stars religiously. They would have also probably been very rich and held in high esteem in their own society and by people who weren't from their country or religion. Find out more about the Magi in the Christmas Story.
They had seen an unusual new star in the sky, and knew that it told of the birth of a special King in Israel. But what did they see? The Bible says they 'saw it in the east' and then when they were in Jerusalem that it 'went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was'.
A very accurate translation of 'saw it in the east' is 'in the first light of dawn', so not just in the East, but early in the morning. And when the Magi were in Jerusalem it would have been in the south, over Bethlehem.
Taken from https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/advent.shtml.