The Gospel of Matthew states that magi visited the infant Jesus to do him homage shortly after his birth (2:1–2:12). The gospel describes how magi from the east were notified of the birth of a king in Judaea by the appearance of his star. Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, they visited King Herod to determine the location of the king of the Jews's birthplace. Herod, disturbed, told them that he had not heard of the child, but informed them of a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. He then asked the magi to inform him when they find the infant so that Herod may also worship him. Guided by the Star of Bethlehem, the wise men found the baby Jesus in a house; Matthew does not say if the house was in Bethlehem. They worshiped him, and presented him with "gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh." (2.11) In a dream they are warned not to return to Herod, and therefore return to their homes by taking another route. Since its composition in the late 1st century, numerous apocryphal stories have embellished the gospel's account. Matthew 2:16 implies that Herod learned from the wise men that up to two years had passed since the birth, which is why all male children two years or younger were slaughtered.

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