Summary: Dramatic monologue on one of the Magi
TEXT: Matt. 2:1-12
TOPIC: "Balthazar of Baghdad"
AUTHOR: Dr. Bill Groover, East Hill Baptist Church, Tallahassee, Fl.
NOTE: Very little is known about the Magi. The things I have written come from legends (the names and number of the Magi), from history (information about the kings), and straight from my imagination. The healing and attitudes are of my construction. While there is much in this monologue I cannot "prove," I hope there is nothing which can be historically dis-proven. Please feel free to notify me of any inaccuracies. There is, of course, debate over the dating of the death of Herod the Great. Most scholars now date his death prior to the birth of Jesus. I’ve stayed with the traditional. Feel free to change anything you like.
I am Balthazar of Baghdad, seventeenth prince to the throne of Cyrus, Alexander, and Antiochus, master of the stars, advisor to the Arsacid Kings of Parthia, and servant of "El Elyon," the Most High King of Heaven. I have come across many miles, great waters, and thousand of years to tell you my story.
I am a Magi from Persia, once a mighty country where your modern Iran and Iraq now are. Depending on the individual, Magi were what you might call astrologers, astronomers, sorcerers, magicians, priests, or court officials. You get your modern words magician and magistrate from our word Magi.
Persia, in my time, was part of the powerful Parthian Empire, heirs to the ancient Babylonian and Greek Empires of Cyrus, Darius, and Alexander the Great. King Cyrus conquered Assyria around 600 years before I was born. The Assyrians Kings, Tiglath Pileasar and Sennacharib, had conquered the Judeans centuries before my birth, and had moved many of their people to live in my homeland near Bagdad. You may have read of this exile as I have in your holy writings in the scrolls you call Kings and Chronicles. But Kings Cyrus and Darius, were more gracious than the Assyrian Kings, and they allowed the Jews to return to their native home and rebuild their holy Temple.
But some of the Jewish people and some of their holy men stayed in Baghdad with my ancestors. Thus we knew of their religion and their prophecies. We knew one of their ancient holy men had spoken to the people the promises of God:
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9, NIV)
So when I was studying the stars and noticed a new star, the most brilliant in the nighttime sky, had arisen over the land of Judea, I knew! The time must have come!
I petitioned my king, King Phraataces, and he authorized me to go and pay homage to this new monarch, and to determine what threat he may pose to our nation. So I traveled to Jerusalem.
Our caravan consisted of two fellow magi and enough servants to tend to our needs and our animals, and soldiers for security. Melchior was from Arabia, but had been in our court since I was a child. He was well advanced in years, and almost blind. I thought he was far too old to travel, but you couldn’t keep him from going. The other member of our party was a young man, newly admitted to the court, named Gaspar. He was brash and arrogant, and I feared would cause trouble before the journey was over.
We went directly to the Judean capital, Jerusalem. We knew the Roman Governor was the real ruler of the province, but still we went to the Hebrew King, Herod, because the newborn king was to be the "King of the Jews."
The Jews hated Herod because of his successful alliances with Rome, and because they didn’t consider him a true Jew. He was the child of Gentile converts to Judaism. Still he tried to curry the favor of the populace by rebuilding the Temple. He did a magnificent job. Rabbis often said: "He who has not seen the Temple has not seen a beautiful building!" But the people knew he was not building because of his orthodox faith; he made a small fortune off the construction!
We were warned to be careful when we met him and inquired about a new king. He had already killed one wife and two sons whom he thought were trying to take his throne. One saying in Jerusalem was: "It is better to be Herod’s dog than his son!" So when we asked where the new king had been born and Herod was troubled, we thought our lives may be over. Fortunately for us, this schemer devised a plot to use us to help him find the threat to his throne. Herod quickly inquired of his holy men where the king, the Messiah they called him, was to be born. "In Bethlehem," they told him. So he sent us on our way with instructions to return and report to him upon our success, so that he, too, may worship the new king.