The Star - part 2
Matthew has highlighted the prophetic riddle of the Old Testament so much so, that we are barely into chapter 2 and had to skip over much of chapter 1 to get here. He is excited to share the prophetic riddle. This is important as the Star of Bethlehem is examined closely. In Matthew's genre of riddle, does he intend to tell us that there is a literal star? or does he use it as a figure as well?
Not a literal star?
If the star was a normal star in a constellation, then it wouldn't hover over a single point such as Bethlehem. It would move in a arc like the rest of he stars save Polaris, which hovers over the north pole. In order to use it to get to Bethlehem you would need:
- To know its path precisely, through the sky
- The precise time
- A clean horizon
- Altitude above sea level or a floating mirror
- An accurate measure of angle from the horizon
- Since no one know s what star it was, it is unlikely they knew the precise path of it. Others have been well known for millennia.
- Accurate time pieces did not exist
- As strangers, even if they could see the Mediterranean sea , it is unlikely they knew their altitude
- The distance from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is less than 5 miles. To navigate with this precision would require a measurement of angle from the horizon to the star with an accuracy of 5 minutes of a degree.
It is improbable that it was a normal celestial star.
Not a ball of lightning?
If the star was a special phenomenon, a ball of light, which literally led them step by step to Bethlehem, then:
- Why didn't anyone else see it and follow it?
- Why did they stop to see Herod, when it was leading them to Bethlehem?
- Why didn't they point it out to Herod and say, "See! We're just following this thing."
It is improbable that it was a special ball of light.