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Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
To do him homage — To pay him that honour, by bowing to the earth before him, which the eastern nations used to pay to their monarchs.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
The chief priests — That is, not only the high priest and his deputy, with those who formerly had borne that office: but also the chief man in each of those twenty-four courses, into which the body of priests were divided, 1 Chronicles 24:6-19. The scribes were those whose peculiar business it was to explain the Scriptures to the people. They were the public preachers, or expounders of the law of Moses. Whence the chief of them were called doctors of the law.
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Thou art in nowise the least among the princes of Judah — That is, among the cities belonging to the princes or heads of thousands in Judah. When this and several other quotations from the Old Testament are compared with the original, it plainly appears, the apostles did not always think it necessary exactly to transcribe the passages they cited, but contented themselves with giving the general sense, though with some diversity of language. The words of Micah, which we render, Though thou be little, may be rendered, Art thou little? And then the difference which seems to be here between the prophet and the evangelist vanishes away. Micah 5:2.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
And if ye find him, bring me word - Probably Herod did not believe he was born; otherwise would not so suspicious a prince have tried to make sure work at once?
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Seeing the star — Standing over where the child was.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
They presented to him gifts — It was customary to offer some present to any eminent person whom they visited. And so it is, as travellers observe, in the eastern countries to this day.
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh — Probably these were the best things their country afforded; and the presents ordinarily made to great persons. This was a most seasonable, providential assistance for a long and expensive journey into Egypt, a country where they were entirely strangers, and were to stay for a considerable time.
And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
That it might be fulfilled — That is, whereby was fulfilled. The original word frequently signifies, not the design of an action, but barely the consequence or event of it.
Which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet — on another occasion: Out of Egypt have I called my Son - which was now fulfilled as it were anew; Christ being in a far higher sense the Son of God than Israel, of whom the words were originally spoken. Hosea 11:1.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
Then Herod, seeing that he was deluded by the wise men — So did his pride teach him to regard this action, as if it were intended to expose him to the derision of his subjects.
Sending forth — a party of soldiers: In all the confines thereof - In all the neighbouring places, of which Rama was one.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
Then was fulfilled — A passage of Scripture, whether prophetic, historical, or poetical, is in the language of the New Testament fulfilled, when an event happens to which it may with great propriety be accommodated.
In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Rachel weeping for her children — The Benjamites, who inhabited Rama, sprung from her. She was buried near this place; and is here beautifully represented risen, as it were out of her grave, and bewailing her lost children.
Because they are not — that is, are dead. The preservation of Jesus from this destruction, may be considered as a figure of God's care over his children in their greatest danger. God does not often, as he easily could, cut off their persecutors at a stroke. But he provides a hiding place for his people, and by methods not less effectual, though less pompous, preserves them from being swept away, even when the enemy comes in like a flood. Jeremiah 31:15.
But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
He was afraid to go thither — into Judea; and so turned aside into the region of Galilee - a part of the land of Israel not under the jurisdiction of Archelaus.
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
He came and dwelt in Nazareth — (where he had dwelt before he went to Bethlehem) a place contemptible to a proverb. So that hereby was fulfilled what has been spoken in effect by several of the prophets, (though by none of them in express words,) He shall be called a Nazarene - that is, he shall be despised and rejected, shall be a mark of public contempt and reproach.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Matthew 2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25