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After nearly a century of civil wars, the Roman Senate appointed Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus[1] as the first emperor of the Roman Empire and gave him the title Augustus[2] Princeps.[3] Augustus, who ruled from 27 B.C. until his death in 14 A.D., restored unity to the empire and created an orderly government. Historians refer to that era as the Augustan Age.

The Augustan Age brought a time of relative peace and prosperity within most of the territories of the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, Roman Judea suffered exceptional unrest under its corrupt and ruthless king, Herod.

While Joseph and Mary planned their new life together, Augustus planned their taxation. He decreed that Roman officials take a census of the Roman Empire to hold all inhabitants accountable for payment of taxes due.[4] Since Jews maintained family genealogical records in their ancestral towns, all individuals journeyed to the home of their principal ancestor to register in the census. Joseph and Mary, both descendants of King David, traveled to David’s hometown of Bethlehem.

Following their arrival in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Sometime after Jesus’ birth, Magi[5] from a land far northeast of Judea arrived in Jerusalem searching for “the One who has been born King of the Jews.”[6]

[1] Citizens of the Roman Empire came to address all Roman emperors by the title Caesar.
[2] Augustus –  Latin “illustrious one”
[3] Princeps – Latin “first”
[4] Luke 2:1-5
[5] “Magi” forms the plural of magus. For more information about the Magi, see the book "Born to Die" by Chuck Bagby,  “Chapter 4 – The Magi Meet Herod, King of Judea,” heading “Magi from the East (Matthew 2:1).”
[6] Matthew 2:2 BT
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