The mysterious Magi and the Bible
The mysterious Magi who came "from the east" (Matthew 2:1) to worship Jesus Christ after his birth were actually from the Parthian Empire. They were high-level dignitaries who possessed a great deal of power and influence.
The Magi were, according to The Lost Tribes of Israel . . .Found! by Stephen Collins, descendants of those from the Israelite priestly tribe of Levi who were taken captive (along with many others) by the Assyrians in the early parts of the 8th century B.C. At the time of Christ's birth, the area controlled by the Parthian dynasty ran south from the Caspian Sea all the way to the Euphrates river (including the cities of Nineveh and Babylon) were once part of the Assyrian Empire.
Not only are Magi or wise men mentioned in the Bible in places other than Matthew 2, Parthians in general are also referenced either directly or indirectly. The prophet Daniel was considered one of the 'wise men' in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The King was so impressed with his God-given ability to interpret dreams that he gave him a special promotion.
48 Then he (King Nebuchadnezzar) gave Daniel a high position . . . and made him the head of all the royal advisers. (Daniel 2:48, TEV)
The Chaldean word translated as "royal advisers" in the above verse is chakkiym, Strong's Concordance #H2445, which means "wise" or "Magi." Daniel was not only one of the Babylonian Magi, he was made their leader.
In 30 A.D. the streets of Jerusalem are beginning to fill with people from around the world who have come to the city to observe Pentecost. As 120 of Jesus' disciples begin to meet the holy spirit is poured out on them and they begin to speak in many different known languages. Marvelled by what is happening people begin to say,
'Behold, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8. Then how is it that we hear each one in our own language in which we were born? 9. PARTHIANS and Medes and Elamites . . . ' (Acts 2:7 - 9)
Notice that those from this part of the world are mentioned first. At the close of his first epistle in the Bible, the apostle Peter states where he is located.
13. The church in Babylon, chosen together with you, greets you, as does Mark, my son.
The city of Babylon was within the territory of the Parthian Empire at the time of Peter's writing. Both he and Mark were, no doubt, preaching the gospel in the city and helping the local church to grow.
A long lasting power
When compared to several well-known ancient world powers, the duration of the Parthian empire was quite long.
Ancient World Empires
Number of Years
(new kingdom period)
|c. 1550 to 1069||431|
less than 230
|Assyrian||884 to 612||272|
612 to 539
|Persian||549 to 330||249|
454 to 404
|Alexander the Great|
(Macedonian / Greek)
|334 to 323||11|
247 B.C. to 224 A.D.
|Roman||27 B.C. to 1453 A.D.||1,478|