In Matthew chapter 2, where the magi seek the child, the Greek word μάγος (magos) strongs G3097 is used. It is defined as
- A magus
- The name given by the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers, sorcerers etc.
- The oriental wise men (astrologers) who, having discovered by the rising of a remarkable star that the Messiah had just been born, came to Jerusalem to worship him
- A false prophet and sorcerer
In Daniel chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar has had a dream, one which greatly disturbs him but he can’t understand it. So he calls his advisors to interpret the dream but he also wants them to tell him what the dream was. Take special note of who he calls in:
[Dan 2:1-2 NLT] 1 One night during the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn't sleep. 2 He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king,
They were unable to fulfill the request, but look closely at their reply:
[Dan 2:10 NLT] 10 The astrologers replied to the king, "No one on earth can tell the king his dream! And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer!
Magicians (chartom), astrologer, and sorcerers. You may have noticed all three titles among the official definition. It is likely these are all synonyms of the same group, the Magi. This group failed to interpret the King’s dream but God gave the answer to Daniel who presented it to the king who then rewarded Daniel. Pay close attention to what that reward was.
[Dan 2:48 NLT] 48 Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men.
Move ahead to Daniel 4 where we see Daniel called by the new position he gained in chapter 2:
[Dan 4:8-9 NLT] 8 At last Daniel came in before me, and I told him the dream. (He was named Belteshazzar after my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.) 9 "I said to him, 'Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too great for you to solve. Now tell me what my dream means.
Daniel is now the Rab-mag, master of the magicians, chief over all the wise men. Again here the original word used is חַרְטֹּם (chartom). His unusual career included being a principal administrator in two world empires: the Babylonian and the subsequent Persian Empire. The magi were a hereditary priesthood and now there were being lead by someone not of their tribe, a Jew. Their resentment over his new position resulted in the plots leading to the lion’s den.
There is little doubt, thanks to the witness of Daniel to various kings recorded in his book that he also witnessed to the Magi that he was now in charge of. He would have shared with them his knowledge of God and the Scriptures and he would have shared with them his visions as well. One of those visions is what is known as the seventy weeks of Daniel. It is a timer starting at the decree to restore the temple in Jerusalem pausing at the cross and resuming in the last days. Since they did not know how old Jesus would be when He would be killed, this timeline would not have given them an exact year for the birth of the messiah but rather a general idea of when to start looking. (Daniel 9:24-27)