Current tradition suggests the Gospel of Matthew was written in Syria. Bacon proposed the Gospel of Matthew had its origins at Edessa, Mesopotamia. There star worship (astrology) was held in high regard.(Bacon, Benjamin, Studies in Matthew, 1930, New York: Henry Holt & Co., p. 36.)
Communities to the northwest of Edessa on the border of the ancient Kingdom of Commagene were deeply invested in star worship. Inscriptions on throne backs were discovered at Nemrut Dağ in the ancient Kingdom of Commagene about 60 miles northwest of Edessa. It revealed a decree made by Antiochus I (c. 70 BC to 30 BC), sovereign of Commagene. The decree stated that the King had commissioned a priesthood known as the Magi to oversee the work conducted at the ancient observatory of Nemrut Dağ. (Crijins, Maurice, CIMRM 32, Inscriptions on Throne-backs, Nemrut Dağ, International Nemrud Foundation, September 1999.).
The studies of the heaven by the Magi at Nemrut Dağ may have given rise to a birth horoscope associated with the Jewish Messiah. Commagene was located in a sub region called Anatolia of what is today modern Turkey. Anatolia came from a Greek word ἀνατολῇ (anatolē) which meant “the East.” The word ἀνατολῇ (anatolē) also appeared in the Midrash, Matthew 2:2b, “For we saw of Him the Star in the East.” “In the East,” was primarily associated with a helical rising of a transient, wandering or fixed star. These stars rose on the eastern horizon or from the abyss along the Ecliptic and among Zodiacal constellations shortly before sunrise.
Matthew described ἀνατολῇ (anatolē) as the location of the Magi’s homeland; the Kingdom of Commagene and a connection to the observatory at Nemrut Dağ! The observatory at Nemrut Dağ was orientated toward the East. This also explained a connection with the phrase, “a helical rising.” It should be noted that the author used the Greek words, ἀνατολῶν, for the Magi’s homeland (Matthew 2:1) and ἀνατολῇ, for a star that had undergone a helical rising (Matthew 2:2b). These two words shared a common meaning. They were interconnected.
In Matthew 2:9-10, the author again used the same Greek word (ἀνατολῇ) to describe the Star that stood over Bethlehem. This did not imply that all three observations spoke about one star. Neither did it suggest that the Mag made all three observations at the observatory at Nemrut Dağ. Instead, these Greek words likely described a location where a record of these observations may have been kept, in the Magi’s homeland at the ancient observatory of Nemrut Dağ. These two Greek words shared a common meaning, that is, “a rising of light, i.e. Dawn, by implication, the East.” While the gospel writer made no distinction between the meanings of these two words other than in the context in which they appeared, the observations found in the Midrash pointed to a record about the visit of the Magi to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. . . . If so, the gospel writer may have had access to those observations at Nemrut Dağ. While a record may have existed in the author’s time, the record is no longer extant.
The observations in the Midrash should provide a wealth of information about the Magi. It should tell us something about the observatory at Nemrut Dağ. It should reveal whether or not the Magi made a visit to Jerusalem and later Bethlehem. Finally, it should disclose whether or not the observations were historical and factually accurate and in what location these observations were made. These observations may have also described a date and a particular time of day or night when the Star of Bethlehem appeared directly over the village of Bethlehem.
On another note, roughly fifty miles southeast, stood the ancient city of Haran. Haran was home to seven temples erected in honor to the Sky gods. The wandering stars were also identified with the Sky gods. The wandering stars were the Sun, Moon and five unaided eye planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These wandering stars were associated with star worship. As divine beings in the heavens they shaped religious, political and secular life in Mesopotamia. Haran was believed to be the same city where Abram (Abraham) and his wife Sara (Sarah) from the Old Testament Book of Genesis migrated. They migrated there after leaving the city of Ur of the Chaldeans and before finally settling at Canaan (Genesis 11:31).
From pages 7-8, The Stars of Bethlehem: A Scribe Who Studied the Kingdom of Heaven