What Was the Star of Bethlehem?

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Darrell Post's picture

The text of Matthew 2:9 is clear: "After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was." (Matthew 2:9 ESV)

It is hard to imagine how a star could come to rest over the place where the child was if it was located in deep space or even within our solar system. Unless it was hovering just within a few hundred feet above the place where the child was, there would have been no way to positively identify the fact that it was stopped over the child.

Some have tried to explain the "stopping" as the retrograde motion of a planet like Jupiter as earth passes it while orbiting the sun. Jupiter would stop, move backward, stop again, then begin moving forward again as seen from earth against the backdrop of stars. But again, if this was the explanation and a planet was low on the horizon, from the perspective of magi walking side by side, the star would appear to be above a different house on the horizon relative to each's given position.

Others have suggested cloud cover, and a beam of light that broke through a hole in the clouds, and the beam fell on the house where Christ was.

But whatever was seen, only seemed to have meaning to the magi, and not everyone else. So if it was some spectacular object that lit up the sky, there would have been some secular mention of the event. So if the star was a natural phenomenon, it would seem it was probably the positioning of planets, like Jupiter and Venus, together in a constellation like Pisces. Something normal, but full of meaning to these magi. But this still doesn't explain how it stopped over the house where He was.