This picture was taken around 1900, and Bethlehem can be seen in the background on the hill. Not much had changed in the area from the time of Christ to when the picture was taken, so it gives an idea of what the area looked like at the time of the first Christmas. While we popularly think of the Maji being in the manger with the shepherds at the time of Christ's birth study of the text would indicate it would have had to have been some time after his birth. Also, the Bible does not say there were three wise men, it says that wise men, or maji, (plural) brought three gifts. Since they had traveled a great distance, it might have been a large caravan. I find it fascinating that these wise men had discerned the signs of the times, and knew that it was the season for the Savior to be born, and where to find him. The Old Testament was filled with clues as to when, where and how the savior would come, but it appears that few put the pieces together successfully to both anticipate and recognize the arrival of the Messiah. The maji appear to have diligently studied the scriptures to have the wisdom to put the story together. One clue the maji could have used would be from Micah 5:2 -
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
So one could see that the text that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but how they knew the time was much more difficult. There is a fascinating book written in 1881 by Sir Robert Anderson called the Coming Prince in which he analyzed prophecy from the book of Daniel and showed that the time of the Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and his rejection by the religious establishment was predicted to the precise day by Daniel's 70 weeks prophecy. Perhaps the maji had used those prophecies to then deduce what the season of His birth must be.
One of the things that remains a mystery to me is what the "star" was that they saw as the sign of the birth of the Messiah. What was this mysterious astronomical sign, and how did they deduce that this particular event was "The" sign that they should pack the caravan and look for the Messiah.
So, things to continue to study and ponder. In any event, I hope you all have a blessed Christmas, and take time to reflect on the true and profound meaning of Christmas. . . the Birth of the Savior Jesus Christ.