Let the Eastern Sages Rise (The Star of Bethlehem)
DESCRIPTION: "Let the eastern sages rise At a signal in the skies, Brighter than the brightest gem, 'Tis the star of Bethlehem." "Balaam's mystic words appear, Full of light, divinely clear." "Now the holy wise men meet At the royal infant's feet."
AUTHOR: Words: Jehoiada Brewer / Music: Samuel Stanley
EARLIEST DATE: 1929 (Ralph Dunstan, _Cornish Song Book_)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Peters, p. 73, "The Star of Bethlehem" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [153 words]: The "eastern sages" are presumably the Magi of chapter 2 of Matthew.
Balaam's mystic words are less clear, but the high probability is that this is a reference to Numbers 24:17, "A star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; It shall crush the corners of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth." This is frequently taken to be a reference to Jesus, but the oracle refers to Moab and Edom and Amalek and the Kenites and Asshur (Assyria) and Eber. Edom still existed as a people in New Testament times (Herod himself was an Idumean/Edomite), but most of the others were long gone -- not just destroyed as nations but vanished as peoples.
It is generally agreed among modern Bible scholars that Balaam's oracle refers not to Jesus -- who in any case did not go about smiting people! -- but to David, in whose time all these peoples existed, and who successfully fought most of them. - RBW
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