There is no getting away from the fact that, if we are to believe Matthew’s account of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, men came looking for Jesus because of what they saw in the heavens. That is, they were astronomers / astrologers. In his book, The Star of Bethlehem, the late Dr. Ernest L. Martin tells us of a number of astronomical events that could have led the Magi to conclude that the Messiah had been born on September 11, 3 BCE. Jupiter could be understood by the Magi for the star pointed to in Matthew 2. It made a number of conjunction combinations with other planets and stars, some of them occurring only once in about 600 years, and this occurred over a period of a year in 3-2 BCE (click HERE to see a simulation).
If the Magi were taught in the same school as Daniel, some or all of them may have been Jews who had remained in the east in the royal court rather than return with Zerubbabel, Nehemiah or Ezra. If this is so, they would have known about Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy, and one or more of them may even have been looking for the coming of the Messiah. Indeed, those in the court of the king had to have special permission to return to their homeland. Nehemiah was the king’s cupbearer and received permission to lead a group of Jews to their homeland, but he could stay only for an agreed amount of time (Nehemiah 2:6). It was similar to Joseph’s receiving permission from Pharaoh to bury his father, Jacob. He could do so, but had to return to the king. Some Jews were not free to leave the east. Nehemiah was one who was not free to leave the king. The Magi of Matthew 2 were probably advisers to a king in the east and would most likely have to return to their kingdom after a presumed agreement concerning their absence from the king’s court.
The Seventy Week’s Prophecy would not be complete until about 34 CE, as we reckon time, but when would the Messiah be born? The text doesn’t say why the Magi were looking in the heavens and concluded that the activity of the star they had seen represented the birth of the King of the Jews, but I think there are implications that show God in some manner revealed to at least one of them that the Messiah would be born soon. In any case, the Magi were alerted to the soon coming of the Messiah and were probably making use of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy also to show the time of his birth was drawing near.
Some scholars have noted that the Hebrew names of particular stars in the various constellations show the Gospel was written long ago in the heavens themselves. According to Revelation 12:1-2, there was a sign in the heavens that was of particular interest, Virgo. This constellation concerns a woman with 12 stars around her head. If she was clothed with the sun and had the moon at her feet as indicated in the text, this could occur in the sign, Virgo, only for a short time on one day in any particular year. It represents the time of the new moon in the 7th month of the Jewish year. That day would have been September 11, 3 BCE.
Actually, as the heavens are viewed from Palestine there was a period of only 1½ hours in which this could have been seen from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. That was between 6:15 PM and 7:45 PM just as the Jewish New Year began, on the 1st day of the 7th month – The Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24). The moon would have been below the western horizon after 7:45 PM, So, if the sign, Virgo, as described in Revelation 12:1, shows Jesus’ birth, he would have to have been born sometime in this 1½-hour period. Jesus would have been circumcised 8 days later on September 20th, assuming the ceremony was done in the morning. Remember the days, according to the Jews begin and end at sundown. Therefore, Jesus was born, according to the data in Dr. Martin’s book and as interpreted from Revelation 12, on the evening of September 11th, not as the day was ending (midnight) but as the day was beginning (according to the Jewish understanding), just after sunset. Mary and Joseph would have stayed in the Bethlehem area for at least 40 days after the birth of Jesus to accomplish the purification and dedication rites concerning Mary and Jesus, as written in the Law (Leviticus 12:2-6).