Real Christmas: So, where DID the Magi come from?

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 2.34.36 PMAfter 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 when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

Have you ever wondered why Magi would come from the East to worship a king that was not their own? Wouldn’t it have been easier to worship royalty in their own country? Why were they searching so hard for someone of a different culture and religion?

They traveled so far because this Jewish King was personal to them.

It’s like someone from Brazil caring about the University of Alabama’s American football team. The probability of that happening is really, really slim.

But it could happen.

Different cultures.
Different environments.
Wouldn’t they have had different gods?

No one knows for sure where the magi came from, except “from the East”. Due to a culture pocket of African’s who have a very similar back-story as the Jewish nation, some think they could have been from Ethiopia. Others think it could have been the orient.

We won’t know this side of heaven, but I did hear an interesting theory I’d love to share with you.

Let’s go back to the Tower of Babel. Remember how God confused the people and made everyone speak in a different tongue, and afterwards the people dispersed and went all over the world?

At that same time in world history, a god named Shang Di appeared in China.

Shang Di was hailed as the creator of the universe. His creation account is exactly like the judeo-Christian account in Genesis, even down to the serpent and the fall of man. The religion also talked about two brothers identical to the Cain and Abel account. Shang Di was the creator god of the universe, and it was forbidden for an idol to represent him. He was a loving and caring God who desired a high moral standard from his people. There were no cultic forms of worship allowed, but instead had a sacrificial system of bulls and lambs just like the Jews. His followers were looking for the coming “Messiah” who was the “Son of God”.

And, if that’s not enough, here’s a zinger…

When you translate Shang Di into Hebrew, it translates phonetically as
El Shaddai.

Could the worshippers of Shang Di been people who believed in the God of the Universe, just with an oriental name?


The background certainly has merit to give that thought some weight.

Eventually, the Shang Di worshippers started to swing mythical with their beliefs. But the early form was still a pure form of worship to a creator god who was sending a savior to the world.

It would explain why they would come so far to worship another nation’s King. It would explain why they brought the gifts they did to Jesus (come back next blog to read about that!). And, it explains why they believed the angel and avoided Herod when told to do so.

*To learn more about Shang Di, check out the book “Faith of our Fathers: God in Ancient China” by Dr. Chan Kei Thong. You also can go this website ( to read more about Shang Di. Both of these gave me info for todays blog.

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  1. Pingback: Real Christmas (Part 7): Meaningful Gifts | Janey's Blog

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