A year or two later, three wise men, gifted in the sciences and the movements of the stars, arrived in Jerusalem from the East with this unusual question: "Where is he who has been born King? For we have seen his birth-star in the East and have come to pay him our respects."

Herod, who then reigned as king of Judea, was troubled by their question, as was all of Jerusalem. Immediately, Herod gathered all of the religious leaders, the chief priests, and scribes, and asked of them, "Where is the one called Christ to be born?"

And they answered him saying, "In Bethlehem, as is written in the prophet (LOOK UP! LOOK UP!)


'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd my people Israel.'"

The adoration of the wise men
Oil on paper on canvas; 45 x 39 cm; c. 1632
St. Petersburg, Hermitage

Then Herod called the three Oriental sages and commanded them, "Go and search carefully for the young child, and when you have found him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship him also."

With this, the wise men departed, and behold, the star that they had seen in the East went before them, till it stood over the place where the young child was. And they came into the house, and saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell prostrate before him, and offered to him their gifts of gold, and the fragrant oils of frankincense, and myrrh, as was the custom of their time.

The angel appears to Joseph
Oil on panel; 20 x 27 cm; c. 1645
Berlin, Gemaldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen

After they had worshipped the newborn king, the wise men prepared to return to the court of Herod. But their dreams were troubled with warnings, and when the morning had dawned, they departed for their own country by an different way.

A warning dream also came to Joseph during the night. An angel appeared to him, saying, "Arise, and take the young child and his mother into the desert of Egypt, and remain there until I bring you word. For Herod is overcome with jealousy, and will seek the child-king to destroy him."

And when he arose from his troubled sleep, Joseph did as the angel had bid of him. Before daylight, he gathered the child, and Mary, and departed for the great wilderness of Egypt. There, the young family remained until the death of king Herod. The words of Hosea were thus fulfilled as well, words spoken centuries before:, "Out of Egypt I have called my Son."

The flight into Egypt Etching;
9.3 x 14.4 cm; c. 1654
London, British Museum