A Matthean Christmas Story
15 December, 2007
A long time ago, in the lands of the Parthians, a group of mages studied the night skies. This was their job as astrologers, they would watch the motions of the planets and stars in order to determine the future. As above, so below. Since they were working for rich people they watched for the stars who’s rising foretold the death of empires, or the birth of kings, rather than checking to see if it was a good night for romance. On this occasion they saw a star which foretold the birth of a king in the house of David, that long dead dynasty that had once ruled parts of Judea. After a couple of years of faffing about (as mages tend to do), a group of twelve of the astrologers headed to Jerusalem to pay homage to the new king. Stopping only to pick up a few gifts in duty free they arrived at King Herod’s palace.
“Mighty King, ” one of the mages said, “where is this newborn son of yours that the stars say is the King of Judah?”
Herod had no recently born sons and was a tad perplexed. Not wishing to offend this group of cultured foreigners, Herod checked with an adviser then said “Er, tell you what, there’s no child here, but why don’t you go to Bethlehem, that’s where David was born after all, maybe the new king is there. Oh and when you find him, let me know so I can give him a present. I wont kill him, honest.”
The magi headed off to Bethlehem though they had no idea how they were to find this new king. But then, but fortunate coincidence a star appeared and floated around like a demented firefly, leading the astrologers to a small house. They burst in and saw a young child playing with his mother. The mages prostrated themselves and left their gifts. Realising that the young prince had no royal court to hang around with, the mages returned home, deciding not to revisit Herod since he had given them such awful directions.
The child’s father suddenly announced that he has seen an angel who had told him that Herod was about to try and kill their child! Also the angel had pointed out that the sudden appearance of a large amount of gold may raise questions at the tax office. So they fled as tax exiles to Egypt.
Herod meanwhile, had been reading his Torah and decided that the Pharaoh had the right idea when he had ordered all the hebrew children killed. Also that Moses had been correct when he ordered all the Midianite children killed. And that Kansa, who ordered the killing of infants in order to prevent the prophecy that one of them would kill him, had the right idea too. And so, like many unrightful kings he ordered the death of all children under the age of two, hoping that this ‘true king’ would not have had time to escape to Egypt. And so the innocents were slaughtered and Herod had a long life until he met his doom from chronic kidney disease.