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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Magi

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(ma' gi) Eastern wise men, priests, and astrologers expert in interpreting dreams and other “magic arts.”

1. Men whose interpretation of the stars led them to Palestine to find and honor Jesus, the newborn King (Matthew 2:1 ). The term has a Persian background. The earliest Greek translation of Daniel 2:2 ,Daniel 2:2,2:10 uses “magi” to translate the Hebrew term for astrologer (compare Daniel 4:7 ; Daniel 5:7 ). The magi who greeted Jesus' birth may have been from Babylon, Persia, or the Arabian desert. Matthew gives no number, names, or royal positions to the magi. Before A.D. 225 Tertullian called them kings. From the three gifts, the deducation was made that they were three in number. Shortly before A.D. 600 the Armenian Infancy Gospel named them: Melkon (later Melchior), Balthasar, and Gaspar. The visit of the magi affirms international recognition by leaders of other religions of Jesus' place as the expected King.

2. In Acts 8:9 the related verb describes Simon as practicing sorcery, with a bad connotation. Such negative feelings had long been associated with some uses of the term.

3. In Acts 13:6 ,Acts 13:6,13:8 Bar-Jesus or Elymas is designated a sorcerer or one of the magi as well as a false prophet. Paul blinded Simon, showing God's power over the magic arts.


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Magi'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/m/magi.html. 1991.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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