In the previous blog article, I have shared my initial thoughts when I first heard the sermon regarding the richness of Jesus spoken by a famous pastor who believes in the prosperity theology.

We would look into the points talked about by the pastor.

Pt 1. Jesus is rich because he was showered with great treasures at the time he was born.

The pastor based this point from the visit of the wise men to Bethlehem on the day Christ was born. (Matt 2:1-12). These men brought with them tributes that are befitting for a king, so the pastor described them with huge treasure chests of gifts as tributes to the new born king of the Jews.

In that story, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they departed for home using another way.

Preliminary Findings  

As I was researching on the topic, I found some interesting facts.

  1. Most Christians pictured the magi as 3 men, even though the bible did not indicate their numbers. Most people base their assumption base on the fact that there are 3 types of gifts, therefore each man must be bearing one gift.
  2. Some stories like Ben-Hur actually contains the name of the wise men. Church traditions claimed that they came from India, Persia and Arabia , some feels that they are Persians, while some even believe they came from China.
  3. As these men travelled great distances from Persia, India and China, many guess that  the gifts were purchased just before their arrival into the land of Israel, most likely from trading posts like Petra in Jordan.
  4. Some scholars felt that the individual gifts testified the status of Jesus
    1. Gold is tribute for the King
    2. Frankincense is used in the incense used by the Priest
    3. Myrrh is a burial spice, indicating the death and burial of Jesus 

Personally, I felt that these facts cannot be proven and disproven, hence I just decided to list them out for interest sake.  

Discrepancies In The Nativity Story  In The Gospel Of Matthew And Luke

If one were to examine the record of the birth of Jesus written by Matthew and Luke one would notice a few differences

  1. Matthew Recorded that Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt after the wise men visited.  (Matt 2:13-14). He did not talk about the Circumcision of Jesus
  2. Luke mention Joseph going into the temple in Jerusalem on the 7th Day after Christ is born and ran into Simeon and Anna (Lk 2:21-38)
  3. Luke did not talk about Joseph going to Egypt, but said he return to Galilee straight
  4. Matthew said that an angel appeared to Joseph while he is in Egypt and then he returned to Galilee
  5. Matthew mentioned of the massacring of children in Bethlehem soon after the birth of Christ 

Most people used this to question if the records are conflicting. But here are my thoughts regarding what would have possibly happened.  

  1. Fact : It only take roughly 2 hours to walk from Bethlehem to Jerusalem
  2. Joseph could have stayed in Jerusalem for 7 days before fleeing to Egypt, as Mary would have been weak to travel (Especially after childbirth) ,
    1. The circumcision of Jesus on the seventh day of childbirth is done there  before fleeing to Egypt.
    2. Luke compiled the gospel of Luke for  Theophilus by compiling eyewitness accounts  of Jesus life,  there is a possibility that not everyone aware of   Joseph fleeing to Egypt.
  3. While hiding in Egypt, he was instructed by an angel to return to Nazareth straight.
  4. It is not possible to determine how long did Joseph hid in Egypt.
  5. Although the bible did not mention it , I would agree that Joseph most likely needed a donkey at least to bring the heavily pregnant Mary to the town of Bethlehem. it is a fair assumption base on the circumstances of their travel.
    1. It is highly possible that that is needed to help them flee to Egypt as well.

How Much Treasure Did They Bring?

According to the pastor, they bought tribute enough for a king, and in his option that means a huge treasure chest. Most art  depicts the magi coming as a huge caravan  bearing gifts for Jesus.

The fact is that the word used for “Treasure” in the verse was  θησαυρους and it just means “wealth”. The same word could be use figuratively as well.  The fact is, the bible did not specifically indicate the amount of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh that was given as a gift.

Even if it is true that Joseph did receive truckloads of treasures,  he would have problems carrying them away.  Especially when he was fleeing Herod.

This assumption is made base on the fact that soon after the magi visit, Joseph had to pack up and flee to Egypt. He may or may not have a donkey to help carry the gifts.  even if the donkey is present, the poor animal have to carry Mary with Baby Jesus as well as the gifts.

How much load can a donkey bear?  (super donkey anyone?). Therefore I do not think that Joseph would have the capability to  carry a huge amount of gifts even if they are presented.

The real purpose of the gifts?

I once wrote about Joseph in this blog article, and in it I shared that perhaps Gods work for Joseph to accomplish includes the following

  1. To bring Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem safely
  2. To Help Mary and Baby Jesus flee to Egypt away from Herod who wanted to kill him
  3. To safely bring Mary and the child Jesus back to Nazareth from Egypt
  4. To educate and to care of Jesus until he is ready for ministry.

Once I heard in the sermon that perhaps it is possible that the gifts from the Magi was God’s providence to aid Joseph in the work.  This is why most of my friends and I feel that the gifts from the Magi were the items that help sustained the life of Joseph and Mary during the time they were in Egypt.

Personally I feel that those provision would have ran out by the time Joseph return to Nazareth.

Did Joseph became a rich man after receiving the gifts?

I guess the answer is a straight NO, although some people claimed that the work of Joseph and Jesus are known as “τεκτονος” (AKA Tekton) meaning a craftsman, and they suggest that Joseph and Jesus made have participate in building the nearby Roman town of Tzippori (ancient "Sepphoris").

But the social standing of Joseph is indicated clearly when he offered sacrifice for Mary Lev 12:8 tells us that a woman would have to offer a sacrifice to God after 7 days of her childbirth. If they unable to provide a lamb, they are allowed to bring turtledoves for the sacrifice  they can be caught at no cost). Joseph offered 2 turtledoves on the day of Jesus circumcision Lk 2:22-24.

If the gifts of the Magi was as “enormous” and generous as prosperity teacher suggest, than I guess Joseph must be a super miser to offer 2 turtledoves instead of a lamb. But I feel such sweeping conclusion is really unfair to Joseph.

Conclusion

While the bible did not tell us how much gifts the Magi bought with them. It is evident that Joseph could only carry a small amount and for sure neither Joseph or Jesus became rich because of the Magi and their “tribute befitting for a king”

Hence to present the offering of the Magi as evidence to prove that Jesus was rich man. Is a weak point by itself. For the fact is that they remained poor despite the “huge gifts” given to them.

But as I was In the midst of studying this , I did came to an conclusion that God will indeed provide and take care of his servants at all times. God have specially provided provisions to help Joseph in his task to protect and to care for Mary after her childbirth.

From here we know that no matter how difficult the work God has given to us, we can safely say that he will provide for us and that he will see us through the difficulty at all times.

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