Magi’s journey would have been arranged according to well-known travel and trade routes that had already been established for a long time.
Here I have written about how a nakshatra can guide the sages, noting the phenomenological language of astronomy (conjunctions and constellations), the “movements” of the nakshatra, and where they came from. “Who” they are (priests of Zoroastrianism; not “magicians” or magicians).
The skeptics of the story—mostly atheists these days and those who delight in ridiculing Christianity at every turn and making Christians look ridiculous—believe that such a journey as that of the sages could not be thought of by mere mortals. Aided by a star in the west. But it was “not rocket science” (then or now) to know and understand that Jerusalem was west of Persia. A star in the west associated with a king (Jupiter and Regulus associated with a king) and a lion (of Judah) – the constellation Leo – would logically lead those familiar with Judaism geographically and contextually to Jerusalem. Existing religions.
I looked at my globe of the world and saw that Jerusalem was almost due west from northwestern Persia, where the Magi probably came from, because they belonged to the Medes who lived in northwestern Persia (today’s Iran). On current maps, Baghdad and Amman, Jordan are roughly on a line west of this area. Baghdad was built in the 8th century. Ancient Babylon is about 53 miles south of Baghdad, but it was captured by the Persians in 539 BC and never recovered, eventually becoming a desolate wasteland.
So the Magi were not driven from Babylon (by the signs they believed they read in the stars). Ammon (ancient Ammon, in the region of the Ammonites in present-day Jordan) was not sufficiently religiously important at this time, and after the 4th century BC it was conquered by the Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans. Therefore, it is not unusual astronomical inference to conclude that some important event is taking place West was to take place in (or near) Jerusalem.
Then the question arises: how Did they travel from Persia to Jerusalem? Was it just a fly-by-night random affair or were there known patterns? The latter was indeed the case. An ancient “superhighway” known as the Royal Road dates back to BC. Built (or rebuilt) by the Persian king Darius the Great in the 5th century AD, the course of this road was determined from the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus, an archeologist. and other historical records. Areas in Persia were also close to or similar to the famous Silk Road.
The Royal Road was north of Israel – even north of Damascus, Syria. So it couldn’t have been Full Path of the Wise. Much of the rest would have been an equally famous ancient road: the King’s Highway. The UNESCO site describes the connection between these two major roads:
Although the idea for such a highway arose out of military and political considerations, the Royal Road served as an integral link in the Silk Roads. It was greatly improved by the modernization of Darius’ own road, with the introduction of formal military checkpoints near Caravanserai. Thus the travelers were not only provided with a place to sleep for the night and an opportunity to change horses, but safety was guaranteed. In the years following the fall of the Persian Empire, these protected merchants ensured that merchants and traders continued to use the road crossing the route.
Wise men would have to follow one or the other major road (Royal Road/Silk Road) and then travel to Jerusalem via the King’s Highway. These were the “great highways” of the ancient world in the Near East. Between the three and additional necessary connecting routes (for example, the Oregon Trail and various “crossroads” in the American West), the entire trip can be visualized and mapped with a reasonable degree of probability or probability: most car travelers in the United States are likely to take interstate freeways on long trips.
In any case, they are not following a star Literally every moment. The Bible does not insist That. “The star which they saw in the east went before them” (Matthew 2:9, RSV), refers only to the five-mile journey between Jerusalem and Bethlehem – and it means the very bright Jupiter. (According to astronomical calculations proposed by some, December 2, BC) and then to go south from Jerusalem, so that it seemed to go ahead of them as they traveled.
My point is that “celestial navigation” played a relatively minor role in the journey of the sages. Much of it was already laid out along long-established well-known travel and trade routes. To travel from Persia to Jerusalem, most travelers crossed the Arabian Desert and the Syrian Desert via the Fertile Crescent. They did not need a star to guide them, but instead followed the water and fertile land outside the desert, with the understanding that they were going to Jerusalem.
The most difficult and interesting question about their journey is: Which way did they go? Again? The Bible says, “They were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and went by another way to their own country” (Matthew 2:12). They may have followed the coastal route of the Mediterranean until they reached Herod (probably), or they may have actually crossed the Arabian Desert (see map showing both routes in 1300 BC). Even in the desert there are many ways to find water. As their land may lie to the east, the rising sun is all they need for extensive navigation – especially taking a more direct route across the desert. The camels did the rest.