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How the Magi were foreshadowed in the Old Testament

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Philip Kosloski - published on 01/07/24

Both the book of Isaiah and the Pslams foreshadow the coming of kings who would bring the Lord gifts.
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Nearly every event in Jesus’ life is a fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy, as God the Father prepared the way for his Son’s arrival.

Even the arrival of the Magi was foreshadowed in the Old Testament.

St. Matthew writes in his Gospel that, “when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem… and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1,11)

Psalm 72 features a similar scene with kings coming from the East, bringing gifts.

May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
    render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!
May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations serve him!

Psalm 72:10-11

The Magi were eventually called the “Three Kings,” and this passage from the Old Testament was used during the Mass on Epiphany.

The book of Isaiah also has a similar scene of gift-giving visitors from afar, including the very gifts that the Magi gave to Jesus.

A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Mid′ian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Isaiah 60:6

Both passages remind us that God was constantly preparing his people to recognize the Messiah when he finally came into the world.

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