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Balthazar in the Bible – An angel of Heaven

As well as Caspar and Melchior, Balthazar in the Bible is believed to be one of the three wise men of the East who visited the newborn Jesus. According to tradition, he was known as the king of Arabia and brought myrrh to Jesus as a gift. His position is considered to be a saint within the Western Church. Along with the two other wise men (and, according to legend, the three wise men). However, the New Testament Gospels do not give the names of the Magi (nor their numbers). Their traditional names derive from a Greek manuscript of 500 AD. Translated into Latin and are generally accepted as the source of the characters.

Can we learn something about Balthazar from worldwide tradition?

Balthazar in the Bible was initially referred to as Bithisarea. A name changed to Balthazar in Western Christianity after it was renamed in the original manuscript. By the 8th century, Saint Bede described Balthazar as having “a dark complexion. And a large beard” and told how “the myrrh in his hand foretold the death of the Son of Man.”

Following the Star of Bethlehem, the Magi were led for the first time by the star to the palace of Herod the Great. They were asked to find the baby Jesus and then to tell him the good news. They went to the place of Jesus’ birth, and when they came to the spot of Jesus’ birth, they offered him a gift, and Baltazar offered him myrrh. Since myrrh was very expensive then, it acted as a symbol of the king’s death in the future.

One of Christian art’s very first narrative images is the scene in which the Magi gift the baby Jesus with gifts. Balthazar in the Bible is believed that when he returned to his country in 54 AD, he managed to evade King Herod by telling him that he had gathered with other Magi to celebrate Christmas in the Kingdom of Armenia. He died on January 6, 55 AD, at the age of 112 years.

What happened to Balthazar’s relics?

It is believed that Balthazar’s relics, along with those of the other two Magi, were brought to Milan from Constantinople by Bishop Eustorgius I in 314 AD along with those of the other two Magi. After that, they were buried in the Sanctuary of the Magi in the Cathedral of Cologne.

During the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1164, the relics were transferred to the city of Cologne. As well as celebrating Balthazar with the other Magi on January 11, the Epiphany Catholic Church celebrates him separately on the day of his birth. In continental European countries where Magi are represented, Balthazar in the Bible is most often depicted as a black-faced figure due to St. Bede. According to a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages, when dark-skinned people were called the bearers of gold. This is based on a historical fact.

Recently, a series of campaigns have been launched in Spain to have a black actor play Baltazar instead of a person with a painted face. They broke the tradition of having a local councilman play the role until the 21st century. According to others, blackface paintings in Spain were not controversial. Because many small towns in Spain were not composed of sub-Saharan people until relatively recently. So blackface paintings in Spain were not a source of controversy. As part of this custom, figures with painted black faces were used to represent the magicians of the magi cavalry. As part of their representation.

There are still many Spanish cities where this custom is observed today. There are also instances where natives of African descent are chosen to play this role in holiday parades. Usually, players from the local team.

Balthazar in the Bible


How is Balthazar in the Bible depicted throughout history?

A magus revolutionized art in the course of his life. Black was used in painting Balthazar from the 14th century onwards. Renaissance art depicts the Magi in a cosmopolitan style. It is often associated with a cosmopolitan outlook at the end of the Renaissance period. Several artists, such as Jan Gossaert, Albrecht Dürer, and Hieronymus Bosch, depict the magician Balthazar in the Bible as an African. The Black Balthazar, however, was not well documented before 1400. Probably because medieval Europeans were ignorant of African culture at the time.

A painting from the early 16th century is one of the most iconic representations of Balthazar as a black man. It is striking to see Balthazar in the Bible as an Arabian. They are bringing the gift of myrrh to baby Jesus with such a pensive expression and melancholy face. A unique Renaissance depiction of the magician Balthazar appears on millions of Christmas cards worldwide today. Still, very few people know just how valuable and revolutionary this painting is.

As part of Sensing the Unseen at the National Gallery in London, an exhibition focuses on the event of Christmas. Through soundscapes, high-resolution digital images, and gesture-based interaction, the show provides unprecedented insight into the visual richness of the event. In Albrecht Dürer’s painting depicting the Adoration of the Magi, painted in 1504, we see a young black figure holding a golden chalice filled with myrrh. Balthazar in the Bible stands elegantly, having a golden chalice with short hair and red trousers.

What is the meaning of gold, frankincense, and myrrh? 

There is no doubt that the gold that the Magi gifted to Jesus  (as Balthazar in the Bible) was a symbol of his royal support. There was no more remarkable tribute to his divinity than the frankincense offered. As the redeemer of humankind, the myrrh was a manifestation of his suffering to redeem humanity.

You might also want to know.

If you are curious, you should know in the first place that the Bible does not contain expressions such as “three kingdoms” and “three kings,” which refer to those who visited Jesus after his birth, which is common in Christmas traditions. These expressions are not found in the Bible. (See Matthew 2:1) Rather than using the Greek word “mago” to refer to those who visited Jesus.

In the second place, what we find pretty interesting is the fact that Balthazar’s name is not written directly in the Bible. But only in several Gnostic Gospels.

Thank you for reading our article about Balthazar in the Bible. If you would like to test your Bible knowledge, you can click on the link next to the name of the following link to play Bible Characters Quizzes.