What do we know about the three wise men in the Bible?
The wise men from the east are mentioned in Matthew chapter 2. It only says “wise men from the east.” No number is given. Nor are they named. The idea of three came from the fact that three gifts are mentioned. There could have been more or less but the Bible gives no number.
Another factlet: the wise men did not come at Jesus’ birth but came later, perhaps as much as two years later since Herod ordered the slaughter of all Jewish male babies age two or younger.
Bible fiction (popular stories or songs) lead people to believe the fiction rather than the Bible. Think of the song “we three kings of orient are” or popular books, opera or made for television movies such as “The Fourth Wise Man” or “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” All show three or four wise men. Stories such as these go back as far as writings of the sixth century AD.
Photo used under Creative Commons license accessed 12/4/2012