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What if the Magi were not three, but four? What if one of the four Wise Men failed to reach Bethlehem with the others?
This is the story of Artaban, the fourth wizard king. It is a beautiful Christmas story based on the tale of the American writer Henry Van Dike, which he published in 1896 under the title 'The other wise man'. Perhaps his story is inspired in turn by a Russian legend, which tells of a fourth wizard king who instead of jewels, carries donkeys, oil and wine.
Melchor, Gaspar, Baltasar and Artabán, were four illustrious magicians from the East who loved to observe the stars. The four magicians discovered a star different from the rest. After several studies, they came to the conclusion that this star marked a path for them that ended in Bethlehem, the place where the baby Jesus was about to be born.
The four wizards decided to go there immediately. But first, they had to meet at a specific point in Babylon, to go all together. Melchior would wear gold. Gaspar, frankincense, and Baltasar, myrrh. Artabán decided to bring some precious stones as a gift: a diamond, a ruby and a pearl.
But on the way to Babylon, Artaban came across a poor man who had been robbed by bandits. Moved, he handed her the diamond.
When he reached the rendezvous point, the other magicians had left for Judea. He went behind, but when they got there, they weren't there either. Instead, he was faced with a bleak outlook: Herod had all the newborns killed. Seeing a soldier about to kill a little boy, he offered him a ruby in exchange for letting the boy live. But other soldiers, seeing what he was doing, took him prisoner and imprisoned him in Jerusalem.
After 33 years behind bars, the wizard king Artaban regains his freedom. So they tell him that Jesus is going to be crucified and he decides to go there. But on the way, Artabán meets a woman who is about to be sold, and decides to hand over the pearl that was left to him in exchange for his freedom.
When Artaban, tired and with very little strength, found himself on Mount Golgotha with Jesus, already crucified. They both look at each other and Artabán tells him:
- Sorry, Jesus, because I was late.
Jesus then tells him the following:
- Artaban, today you will be with me in the kingdom of heaven, because when I was hungry, you gave me food, and when I was sick, you took care of me. When they took me prisoner, you released me ...
"But Lord, when did I do all that?" Artaban asked, surprised.
"What you did for your brothers, you did for me," Jesus answered.
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