Bible Cartoon: Matthew 02 - The Nativity SET 02 - Scene 05 - Wise men seek the new king in Jerusalem

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Bible Book: Matthew
Bible Book Code: 4000200202
Scene no: 5 of 15

Bible Reference & Cartoon Description

Matthew 2:1-2 (NLT)
[1 Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod.] About that time some wise men [1] from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, [2] and we have come to worship him.”

Or, royal astrologers; Greek reads magi; also in 2:7, 16.

Or, in the east.


Unspecified in the Bible narrative, I have set this scene in the late afternoon.

The sun (unseen, low in the sky to the right (West) illuminates this scene, casting shadows below & to the left (East) of figures & objects.

The wise men [3] can be seen in the right foreground of the picture, one leading the three camels on foot, the other two riding.
A black-winged kite is perched I the tree.
A lizard is basking on a rock, looking at the wise men as the walk past.

This scene shows the wise men approaching the city of Jerusalem. They are approaching from the North East, on one of the many roads that converged on the city. The fortified city walls & many pale buildings inside & outside these walls can be seen. Notice the large building, inside the city walls, near the Eastern wall, just to the right of the foreground tree. This is the famous Second Jewish Temple, significantly increased in size & grandeur by Herod the Great (37 B.C. – 4 A.D.) during his reign as king of Judaea. His revitalization of the temple began in 20 B.C. and lasted for 46 years.

Here is the scene without the wise men & camels, but with the tree, bird & lizard in the foreground.
Matthew 02 - The Nativity SET 02 - Scene 05 - Wise men seek the new king in Jerusalem (with Tree) - Background 980x706px col.jpg
Background of Matthew 02 – The Nativity SET 02 – Scene 05 – Wise men seek the new king in Jerusalem (with tree)

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Background of Matthew 02 – The Nativity SET 02 – Scene 05 – Wise men seek the new king in Jerusalem (with tree)

Here is the scene without the wise men, camels, tree or bird in the foreground. This version gives the best, unobstructed view of the first century city of Jerusalem.
Matthew 02 - The Nativity SET 02 - Scene 05 - Wise men seek the new king in Jerusalem (without Tree) - Background 980x706px col.jpg
Background of Matthew 02 – The Nativity SET 02 – Scene 05 – Wise men seek the new king in Jerusalem (without tree)

Click on the colour bar below to view/buy this Background:
Background of Matthew 02 – The Nativity SET 02 – Scene 05 – Wise men seek the new king in Jerusalem (without tree)

I found a photograph on the internet which informed my own drawing of the city of Jerusalem. The photo was dated between 1890 & 1900, & was taken from Mount Scopus or Har HaTsofim (Lookout Mount) in Hebrew. This mountain stands 2709.97 feet (826 metres) above sea level in northeast Jerusalem. Mount Scopus is part of a ridge of mountains that includes the Mount of Olives. Scopus deserves its name as one of the best places to get an overview of Jerusalem. In 66 A.D. the Romans camped on Mt. Scopus as they contemplated their attack on the city. The war resulted in the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple.

The bird in the tree above the wise men is Elanus caeruleus (aka Black-winged kite, the black-shouldered kite (not to be confused with the closely-related Australian species of the same name). This long-winged raptor is predominantly grey or white with black shoulder patches, wing tips and eye stripe. The long falcon-like wings extend beyond the tail when the bird is perched (as in my picture). It is a small diurnal bird of prey in the family Accipitridae best known for its habit of hovering over open grasslands in the manner of the much smaller kestrels.

The little orange lizard basking in the sun on the rock, in the foreground is an Acanthodactylus beershebensis (aka Be’er Sheva Fringe-fingered Lizard), Adults vary in size from 17 to 20 cm (6.7 to 7.9 in), but can get much larger. The species is endemic to the loess scrublands of the Negev desert in Israel and the Palestinian Territories [and sometimes adjacent countries], a biodiversity hotspot. Like all Acanthodactylus, A. beershebensis lays eggs, varying from three to seven eggs at a time.

The camels are Camelus dromedarius (aka the dromedary camel, Somalian Camel, Arabian camel, or one-humped camel), an large even-toed ungulate, of the genus Camelus, with one hump on its back. The species’ distinctive features include its long, curved neck, narrow chest, a single hump (compared with two on the Bactrian camel and wild Bactrian camel), and long hairs on the throat, shoulders and hump. The coat is generally a shade of brown.

The dead-looking tree in the foreground is a Quercus calliprinos (aka the Palestine Oak) which is the most common tree in the typical Israeli Maqui. This is a tall evergreen tree or shrub. When it is not damaged it may reach a height of 49.2 Feet (15 metres), a trunk with a diameter of 6.5 Feet (2 metres), a crown with a diameter of 98.4 feet (30 metres) and an age of up to 850 years (as dated for an oak called “Abraham’s Oak” at Alonei Mamre, near Hebron). Its leaves are small, with a length of 0.6-1.57 inches (1.5-4 cm). They are dark green and stiff. It is a typical example of the Mediterranean arboreal trees and shrubs characterized by small and rigid leaves.

Three wise men?
Although the Bible doesn’t specify that there were three wise men, some Bible scholars have reasoned that the three gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) might indicate there number. This is an assumption, of course, & by no means certain. I have illustrated the scene with three wise men, or Magi, as they are also called. No doubt the wise men would have travelled with a significant number of servants, camels, supplies, etc in a large group, which could defend itself in the wilderness, since there were known to be bandits, thieves & all manner of villains on the roads they would have travelled. But for the purposes of focusing the viewers attention on three wise men, I have omitted all these extra people!

I found an interesting little article in my “The Complete Jewish Study Bible” regarding the nationality of the wise me, quoted below.
The Magi Replaced the Jews as First Recipients of the Good News
Matthew 2:1–12 Despite the prophetic nature of Matthew 2, certain Jewish scholars incorrectly
conclude that this is the first anti-Semitic assertion of the New Testament, where God chose the Magi
(presumably Gentiles) over his covenant people (Isra’el) in presenting the Jewish Messiah (v. 7). Jewish scholar Amy-Jill Levine points out, “Matthew’s second chapter has been read as a foreshadow of the passion, in which evil Jews persecute the righteous while good Gentiles seek their well-being” (Farmer 27–28).

Historically, Christian theologians have mistakenly insisted that the term ‘magi’ was used as the name for priests and wise-men among the Medeo-Persians and Babylonians. These persons were supposed to be adept in that secret learning which in remote antiquity had its seat in Egypt, and later in Chaldea, from which latter fact they were often called Chaldeans” (Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua 107). Most Christian scholarship thus argues that the Magi were Gentiles and of pagan origin.

However, recent biblical scholarship and archeological evidence has proven that the Magi were neither Gentiles nor astrologers (stargazers), but in fact were Jewish sages. As noted by Kasdan [Barney Kasdan, rabbi of Kehilat Ariel, a Messianic synagogue in San Diego, USA], “Babylon was still the place of residence for the majority of the Jewish community even as Matthew was writing in the first century” (107). Of the origin of these Magi, scholars agree they are linked to the prophet Dani’el, near 500 B.C., who in the Diaspora waited for the time of return and the restoration of Isra’el. Some have even speculated that these wise men came from a Jewish school that went back to Dani’el’s day, where the prophets looked to the heavens for the promised arrival of the Messiah. The star in the east was in fact a manifestation of ADONAI’s Sh’khinah (Divine Presence), marking the arrival of the Son of Man. The Jewish Midrash Aggadat Mashiach (Bet ha-Midrasch 3:141–43) remarks, “This is the star of the Messiah, and it will abide in the east fifteen days, and if it tarries longer, it will be of the good of Isra’el.” As to the accusation that God providing revelation to the Magi is anti-Semitic, this is refuted in that the wise men of the east were in fact Jewish sages awaiting the arrival of Isra’el’s Messiah.