Three wise men, kings from the East, follow the Star
of Bethlehem to the manger where Mary lay with the
baby Jesus, and present the newborn king with gold,
frankincense, and myrrh. The story is an indelible
part of Christian culture that is renewed with every
singing of ”We Three Kings,“ with every Nativity
display on every lawn at Christmastime, with every
celebration of Twelfth Night, which commemorates
the day that the Magi arrived.
So who were the ”wise men,“ really? Magi is a Latin
word deriving from an Old Persian term for the
Zoroastrian priestly caste; the English word magic
derives from it. Given the significance of the star in
the Gospel story, it is likely that the Magi were
astrologers, highly regarded in that era, and that they
hailed from somewhere within the boundary of the
old Persian Empire. Some historians now believe the
wise men were ambassadors sent by three
contemporary kings: Azes II of Bactria, Gondophares
of Indo-Parthia, and Aretas IV from nearby Nabatea.
This remarkable collection contains coins issued by all
three of these Holy Land kings—each one a genuine
artifact from Biblical times.