The story is an addition and expansion of the account of the Biblical Magi, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It tells about a "fourth" wise man, a priest of the Magi named Artaban, one of the Medes from Persia. Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born among the Jews. Like them, he sets out to see the newborn ruler, carrying treasures to give as gifts to the child - a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl of great price. However, he stops along the way to help a dying man, which makes him late to meet with the caravan of the other three wise men.