The greatest gift of all: The story of the 4th Wiseman

The greatest gift of all

With Christmas fast approaching it seems love, the greatest gift of all, is an appropriate timely theme.

Victorian author Henry van Dyke wrote a story about a 4th Wise Man, Artaban, who set out to honour the baby Jesus. However, because he stopped many times to help the needy, through acts of compassion and love, he missed the Holy Family.

Van Dyke, Henry (1896) The Story of the Other Wise Man. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.

Artaban prepares for his journey

Artaban was a Magi, a group of scholars who studied the prophecies and the stars. They learned that a great star that rose in the East signalled the birth of a baby, born to be King of Israel.

Artaban and his companions Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar decided to follow the star to pay homage to the newborn King.

To prepare for the journey Artaban sold his possessions and bought three jewels, a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl, as presents for the new King. 

Artaban set out on his journey to meet his companions but was delayed as he stopped, in a single act of human love, to help a dying man. The delay meant his companions left without him. He sold his sapphire to buy provisions for the journey he would now undertake alone.

Artaban’s good deeds

On arrival in Bethlehem, he was told by a young mother that the Holy Family had already left. The soldiers of King Herod were killing the male children who might threaten his position.

Artaban used his ruby to agree with the soldiers’ captain to bypass her house.

Artaban wandered for 33 years seeking Jesus.  Now an old man he arrived in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Artaban believed this was the person he had sought all his life and he would offer his pearl as a ransom to stop Jesus’ death.

However, he stops to rescue a young woman being sold into slavery. In a true deed of love, he hands over his pearl.

Artaban’s journey was complete

Artaban’s journey was over. He knew that all was well because he had done the best he could. A faint voice spoke to him, ‘Inasmuch as thou hath done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me’.

His journey had ended. His treasures were accepted. The 4th Wise Man had found the King.  

Have a brilliant Christmas!

Tra for now.


P.S. Still looking for presents? Why not have a look in our Magi Rose shop?