„In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage“….“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path.“ Matthew 2:1–12.
The (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings, were, in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who folowed the „Star of Betlehem“ and visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The three wise men who came to seek and honor the infant Jesus were named Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior. They were philosophers, the counselors of rulers, learned in all the wisdom of the ancient East. The idea that they were also kings came from the Isaiah 60:3.
In European art they appear in the “Adoration of the Magi” related to the commemoration of the Adoration of the Magi (Holy 3 Kings, Wise men) – Epiphany, with subordinate commemorations of the Baptism of Jesus and the Wedding at Cana.
Paintings reference: Web Gallery of Art (www.wga.hu)
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