What alternate route might the Wise Men have taken from Bethlehem to avoid King Herod? Let’s look…
5 Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths [in the case of the Magi, literally].
In reviewing the Christmas story, I began to ponder this verse:
12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2:12
What route did they take coming to Jerusalem? What other routes were available to them going home? I googled a few websites and came up with this scenario. There is a road coming out of Babylon that angles Northwest following the Euphrates River and intersects with a road at Resafa going south to Damascus. At Damascus, it becomes the Via Maris and travels down the Mediterranean Coastline to Egypt.
There was a straighter and shorter route through the desert, but the other road was much more desirable because of the availability of water all along the route. At Joppa (or Appolonia) they could have gone East to Jerusalem.
Bethlehem is four miles Southeast of Jerusalem. When the Magi were warned not to go back through Jerusalem, their best route was to go South to Herodiom (sp?) and then Northeast to Jericho, cross the Jordan, and hit the King’s Highway. From the King’s Highway, they could have gone East along the desert route or North to Damascus, thus putting them back on a reverse route home. King Herod, knowing that they had come down the Via Maris and would probably take that way back home, would most likely have sent his troops West looking for them.
I don’t know about you, but it helps me to see the maps and possible routes. It helps me visualize the events, thus making the story not just possible, but plausible in my mind. Of course, I believe the account because I believe in Jesus and the accounts given to us by Matthew and Luke. Still, I like the way history, astronomy*, and geography all work together to give us a detailed and accurate account of Jesus’ birth.
May we all dig deeper and discover more nuggets of wisdom.
Abba, thank You for nudging me to do this research. I found it very gratifying and pertinent. May we all use this knowledge to make the Christmas account more real to us, our families, and friends. Thank You for coming to rescue us. We surely needed it! Amen.
*For a detailed account of the stars concerning the birth of Jesus Christ, go to Bethlehemstar.com and take the study guide.