The Star of Bethlehem on a Coin?

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."   - Matthew 2:1-2 (ESV)

Among the wonders told in the Bible, the mysterious Star of Bethlehem is one that fascinates the imagination. Astronomers have attempted to explain what the star might have been. Among several theories, one theory is the object was a conjunction of planets. We get to see such an event on December 21st, when Jupiter and Saturn will appear so close together they will form a bright star-like light that people haven't seen in 800 years.

Whatever the Magi from the east saw, it signified the most significant event in cosmic history: the birth of our Lord Jesus the Christ. It impressed these astrologers so much that they were willing to risk their lives and travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to worship the divine child.

A few years ago, I came upon a book titled The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi written by Michael R. Molnar. Molnar presented evidence that in Antioch, Syria, the star impacted the region so much that in 6 A.D., Antioch began minting coins showing a star over the astrological sign of Aries (the ram) with the ram looking back toward the star! I just so happened to be fortunate enough to acquire one of the varieties of this coin. (Image below.)


Syria, Antioch circa 56/57 AD
(Reverse) Aries looking back at a star above.

According to Molnar, never before had Antioch included a star on its coinage, but get this: Aries was associated with Judea in ancient times. The magi themselves may have seen the star appear in the constellation Aries and recognized it as the sign of the Christ child's birth.

I love how this ties together with the Bible. It is tangible, historical evidence of the most important celestial event in history. Whatever the Star of Bethlehem was, it was a real event that inspired coins commemorating the occasion. 

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, let us look to the sky in wonder at God's cosmos. On December 21st, let us all look at Jupiter and Saturn's conjunction and see it as a sign of hope in the challenging year 2020 A.D. and an assurance that God is with us into 2021 and beyond. Putting our faith in Christ gives us eternal life and blessing. 


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