Lectionary Calendar
Monday, May 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 2

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-17

1 David 1 Ozias

2 Solomon 2 Joatham

3 Roboam

3 Achaz

4 Abijah 4 Hezekiah

5 Asaph

5 Manasseh

6 Josaphat 6 Amos

7 Joram 7 Josiah

[Ahaziah]

[Jehoahaz]

[Jehoash]

[Jehoiakim]

[Amaziah] [Jechoniah]

18 Compare Luk_1:26-38

19 The law was very strict in an ordinary case of this kind, and demanded that the woman be taken to the entrance of her father's house and the men of her city be required to stone her until she died ( Deu_22:21 ). Joseph could not bring himself to this, so intended to divorce her according to the law that when a man had taken a wife and has found some uncleanness in her then he was to write her a bill of divorcement and send her out of his house ( Deu_24:1 ).

23 In Isaiah, the prophet does not use the usual word for virgin, But olme, damsel ( Isa_7:14 ). It is not likely that it was a virgin when it first came to pass in the prophet's day. But in this, the proper fulfillment , the spirit changes the word to virgin , as it is in the Septuagint also.

Mat_2:1-6 Bethlehem, the House of Bread, can be traced back in the family of our Lord to the time of Boaz and Ruth ( Rth_1:1-2 ). Here David dwelt. It was so insignificant that it is not even mentioned among the cities of Judah by Joshua or Nehemiah. This is seized on by the prophet ( Mic_5:2 ) to form a background for its future greatness. Nor has any other event of importance transpired there. Its solitary and surpassing glory is the birth of the Shepherd of Israel.

1 The magi represent those who are learned in the lore of nature. All nature leads the true devotee to the worship of Him Whose handiwork it is. Many attempts have been made to explain the star of Bethlehem as a purely normal occurrence-a meteor, a comet, the conjunction of a number of planets, etc. But no such star could guide the magi for a long period and then take its place above Bethlehem, as distinct from Jerusalem. It is much easier to believe that it was an extraordinary star, for it heralded the birth of a most extraordinary Babe.

3 Herod the Great, as this king was usually called, may have been of Philistine extraction, his ancestors having been brought to Idumea as prisoners of war. He was the first sovereign of the Edomites who reigned over Judea, under Roman supremacy, and began about 40 B.C. His father, Antipater, had been procurator of Judea when Hyrcanus II., the Maccabean, was king. He died not long after these events. He received his kingdom from Antony and the Roman Senate. After the fall of Antony he found favor with the emperor Augustus. His actions tell us that he feared for his throne when the Messiah should come. In this he was in striking contrast with the Maccabean dynasty which he displaced. They took the royal authority with the express reservation of the rights of the Messiah (1 Macc.14:41). He massacred helpless infants in a futile effort to murder the Messiah.

7 It is evident, from the anxiety of Herod to get the exact time when the star first appeared, and his order to kill all the babes under two years, that the magi did not visit Bethlehem when Christ was born, but a long time afterward. He is now a little Boy, and Herod does not consider it safe to allow any child under two years to live. It is probable that they saw the star in the east at His birth, and, after some time for preparation, took their slow journey to Judea.

12 There is a startling contrast between the worshipful adoration of the magi, and the cruel conduct of His own people. The priests and scribes and populace should have exulted at His coming, but they are disturbed and uneasy. The priests should have worshiped Him, but they would not go a two-hours' journey to see Him. The magi traveled for months and brought Him presents. The scribes knew where be was born, but none went thither. The people followed their leaders. His own received Him not!

13 The khan at Bethlehem was the starting point of caravans for Egypt. Such it was in the days of Jeremiah, who lodged with Chimham at Bethlehem on his way to Egypt ( Jer_41:17 ). And in his day many Jews went down into Egypt so that there were large Jewish colonies there to which Joseph could go during his exile. Here the true Image of God would find the first objects to strike His dawning intelligence, and these would probably be the false images and gigantic temples of their idolatrous worship. Here was the center of the world's wisdom, but we do not read that any of the wise men recognized Him in Whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are concealed ( Col_2:3 ). But here also was the home of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the sacred scrolls which He used in His ministry. From here He, like the nation before Him, was called out of Egypt ( Hos_11:1 ).

Verses 18-23

18 Compare Jer_31:15 .

18 The name “Rama” was a common one for a site on a hill. There was probably such a place near Bethlehem beside the tomb of Rachel, who died there in sorrow ( Gen_35:19-20 ). There is a beautiful connection between her sorrow and that of the bereaved mothers whose infants Herod slew.

23 “He will be called a Nazarene” was spoken prophecy. There is no reason to believe it was written or is to be found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Much that was spoken by the prophets was never committed to writing, but was preserved by tradition.

1-12 Compare Mar_1:1-8 , Luk_3:1-18 ; Joh_1:6-8 ; Joh_1:10-34 .

3 The wretched roads in the East were seldom repaired unless in preparation for some royal visitor. To see the peasants employed in removing the stones and straightening the road, and leveling its rough places was a sure sign that some one of high rank was expected. John the baptist was the herald of the King, calling on His subjects to prepare His path before Him ( Isa_40:3 ).

4 There is no reason why this should not be taken literally. The Arabs of those regions still feed on locusts. The American Indians of the western deserts have been known to subsist for weeks on locusts alone. The insect was included among those which it was lawful for a Jew to eat ( Lev_11:22 ). The monks of the dark ages thought this incredible, so they planted locust trees near the grotto in the desert which was supposed to be John's home. The carob is also found in this region and pilgrims have given it the name “St. John's bread” in order to shield him from the charge of eating insects.'

6 Baptism, or ceremonial washing, was a recognized rite in the Jewish ritual. It was usually performed by the person himself. Since Moses consecrated Aaron and his sons ( Exo_29:4 ) no one did it for another. The priests washed themselves at the laver ( Exo_40:31 ) Defiled clothes were to be washed by the man himself ( Lev_11:40 ). Naaman dipped himself in the Jordan ( 2Ki_5:14 ). But, because John did the baptizing, he was called “the baptist”.

7 John came in the spirit and power of Elijah ( Mat_11:14 ; Luk_1:17 ). The superficial ceremonial without a corresponding condition of the heart was offensive to his spirit. He loathed hypocrisy. So he refused to baptize the religious zealots whose lives were not in accord with their profession. True repentance alone could avail to prepare them for the Coming One. Water could only symbolize the inward cleansing. It was not a substitute.

9 Compare Joh_8:33-39 .

11 See Act_1:5 ; Act_11:16 ; Act_19:1-4 ).

11 There are three baptisms here, water, spirit, and fire. John used water only. This method was continued during our Lord's ministry. But after His resurrection He told them “John, indeed, baptizes in water, yet you shall be baptized in holy spirit after not many of these days ( Act_1:5 ). From Pentecost onward two baptisms obtained. At first, those who were baptized in water received the baptism of the spirit also. Cornelius received the spirit before he was baptized in water ( Act_10:44-48 ). Now there is only one baptism ( Eph_4:5 ). In one spirit we all were baptized into one body ( 1Co_12:13 ). It is for cleansing, not for power.

12 The baptism of fire is the burning of the chaff. Such was the only baptism which the Pharisees and Sadducees deserved. Those whom He does not baptize in holy spirit, in grace, He will baptize in fire, in judgment. All of this is eonian, and does not determine their ultimate destiny after the eons have passed by.

13-17 Compare Mar_1:9-11 ; Luk_3:21-22 .

13 The Lord needed no cleansing, for He had no sin. But He needed to identify Himself with those who were cleansed. It was a foreglimpse of His baptism on Golgotha, when He became sin for the sake of His own.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 2". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/matthew-2.html. 1968.
 
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