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OF THE COMING OF THE MAGI FROM PERSIA.
WHEN Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judah, and the star appeared to the Magi in the east, twelve Persian kings took offerings--gold and myrrh and frankincense--and came to worship Him. Their names are these: Zarwândâd the son of Artabân2, and Hôrmîzdâd the son of Sîtârûk (Santarôk), Gûshnâsâph (Gushnasp) the son of Gûndaphar, and Arshakh the son of Mîhârôk; these four brought gold. Zarwândâd the son of Warzwâd, Îryâhô the son of Kesrô (Khosrau), Artahshisht the son of Holîtî, Ashtôn`âbôdan the son of Shîshrôn; these four brought myrrh. Mêhârôk the son of Hûhâm, Ahshîresh the son of p. 85 Hasbân, Sardâlâh the son of Baladân, Merôdâch the son of Beldarân; these four brought frankincense. Some say that the offerings which the Magi brought and offered to our Lord had been laid in the Cave of Treasures by Adam1; and Adam commanded Seth to hand them down from one to another until our Lord rose, and they brought (them), and offered (them) to Him. But this is not received by the Church. When the Magi came to Jerusalem, the whole city was moved; and Herod the king heard it and was moved. And he gathered together the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired about the place in which Christ should be born; and they told him, in Bethlehem of Judah, for so it is written in the prophet2. Then Herod called the Magi, and flattered them, and commanded them to seek out the Child diligently, and when they had found Him to tell Herod, that he also might go and worship Him. When the Magi went forth from Herod, and journeyed along the road, the star rose again suddenly, and guided them until it came and stood over (the place) where the Child was. And when they entered the cave, and saw the Child with Mary His mother, they straightway fell down and worshipped Him, and opened their treasures, and offered unto Him offerings, gold and myrrh and frankincense. Gold for His kingship, and myrrh for His burial, and frankincense for His Godhead. And it was revealed to them in a dream that they should not return to Herod, and they went to their land by another way. Some say that the Magi took some of our Lord's swaddling bands with them as a blessed thing3.
Then Longinus the sage wrote to Augustus Caesar and said to him, 'Magians, kings of Persia, have come and entered thy kingdom, and have offered offerings to a child who is born in Judah; but who he is, and whose son he is, is not known to us.' Augustus Caesar wrote to Longinus, saying, 'Thou hast acted wisely in that thou hast made known to us (these things) and hast not hidden (them) from us.' He wrote also to Herod, and asked him to let him know the story of the Child. When Herod had made enquiries about the Child, and saw that he had been mocked by the Magi, he was wroth, and sent and slew all the children in Bethlehem and its borders, from two years old and downwards, according to the time which he had enquired of the Magi. The number of the children whom he slew was two thousand, but some say one thousand eight hundred. When John1 the son of Zechariah was sought for, his father took him and brought him before the altar; and he laid his hand upon him, and bestowed on him the priesthood, and then brought him out into the wilderness. When they could not find John, they slew Zechariah his father between the steps2 and the altar. They say that from the day when Zechariah was slain his blood bubbled up until Titus the son of Vespasian came and slew three hundred myriads of Jerusalem, and then the flow of blood ceased3. The father of the child Nathaniel also took him, and wrapped him round, and laid him under a fig-tree; and he was saved from slaughter. Hence our Lord said to Nathaniel, 'Before Philip called thee, I saw thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree.'
1 In the Oxford MS. chap. xliii.
2 The Cave of Treasures (Brit. Mus. Add. 25,875, fol. 40 b, col. 2; Bezold, Die Schatzhöhle, p. 57) gives the names of three kings only: 'Hôrmîzdâd of Mâkhôzdî, the king of Persia, who was called "king of kings" and dwelt in lower Adhôrgîn; and Izdegerd the king of Sâbâ, and Pêrôzâd the king of Shabâ in the East.'
1 The Oxford MS. adds: 'They were laid in the ark, and afterwards in the land of Persia.'
2 Micah v. 2.
3 See Hone, Protevangelion, Infancy, chap. iii. 4-10. The passage from the History of the Virgin Mary, given in the notes, is as follows: 'And Mary took one of the swaddling bands of Jesus, and gave it to the Persian Magi, and they received it from her in faith as a sublime gift . . . . . . They held a Magian feast, and made a huge fire, and cast the swaddling band into the fire, which they worshipped; and the swaddling band became like fire, and quenched that fire. Then they brought it out from the fire when it was like snow, even purer than at first. And they took it and kissed it and laid it upon their eyes, saying, "Verily without doubt this is the God of gods, for the fire of our god was not able to burn it or injure it." And they took it with faith and great honour.'
1 See Hone, Protevangelion, chap. xvi. 9-28; Tischendorf, Evangelia Apocrypha, p. 45; Cowper, Apoc. Gospels, p. 24; Thilo, Coli Apoc., p. 265; Wright, Contributions to the Apoc. Lit. of the New Test., p. 5.
2 See above, p. 73, note 3.
3 See Taanîth, fol. 69, Tal. Jer., and Sanhedrîm, fol. 96, Tal. Babli.