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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Matthew 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-12

The Messiah's Davidic Kingship- Predestination: The Messiah's Davidic Kingship ( Matthew 2:1-12) - Matthew's third testimony of how Jesus' birth was predestined by God the Father to fulfill essentially all Old Testament prophecies is recorded in Matthew 2:1-12 with the story of the visit of the wise men from the East and the prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. This event fulfilled the prophecy of Micah 5:2 and is quoted in Matthew 2:5-6. This event testifies to the fact that Jesus would one day become the King of Israel ( Genesis 49:10, Psalm 45:6-7; Psalm 102:25-27, Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11; Isaiah 10, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Ezekiel 37:24). This passage of Scripture testifies to the fact that Jesus Christ, who is fully man and fully God is also the eternal King of Israel predestined by God, and destined become King of all nations.

Micah 5:2, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."

Matthew 2:5-6, "And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 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."

We should keep in mind that the underlying emphasis of Matthew 1:1 to Matthew 2:23 is on the divine foreknowledge of God the Father in effecting His plan of redemption for mankind. Thus, we see the angel of the Lord intervening in Joseph's life and the life of the three wise men to show them God's divine providence at work in their lives.

Central Theological Application of the Text - The central theological application of Matthew 2:1-12 reveals that God has created, designed, and predestined everyone to rule and reign with Christ Jesus on earth. Within the context of the Gospel of Matthew , the authority given to Jesus Christ at His resurrection and ascension has been delegated to the Church in order to fulfill the Great Commission ( Matthew 28:18-20), working together in discipling the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Coming of the Wise Men Foreshadowing Jesus as King of the Jews - One of the major themes woven throughout the Gospel of Matthew is that Jesus has come into this world as King of the Kings. The major theme of Luke's Gospel is that Jesus is the Saviour of the world. Thus, Matthew records this story of the wise men declaring Jesus as King ( Matthew 2:1-12), while in Luke's Gospel the angels declare to the shepherds that Jesus is the Saviour ( Luke 2:8-20). Both events happened, and both events were recorded by different writers in order to find support for their separate themes.

The story recorded in Matthew 2:1-12 foreshadows the fulfillment of Jesus one day reigning as King of Kings and having all nations coming to the light. According to Isaiah 60:3-6, kings and Gentiles will come to Jesus because of the light, worship Him, and offer Him gifts of gold and incense. All of these events will be fulfilled in Matthew 2:1-12.

Isaiah 60:3-6, "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD."

One day, kings and Gentiles will again come to bow down to Jesus in all of His Father"s glory.

The Coming of the Wise Men Foreshadowing of Jesus' Rejection by the Jews and Acceptance by the Gentiles - The narrative material of the wise men who visited baby Jesus in Matthew 2:1-12 is unique to the Gospels. Arthur Pink says that this story foreshadows Jesus' rejection by the Jews and the acceptance by the Gentile of Jesus Christ as Savior. 296] He says the parts of this story that might foreshadow future events are:

296] Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount (Carlisle, PA: Evangelical Press, 1977) [on-line]; accessed 23February 2010; available from http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Sermon/sermon_intro.htm; Internet, "Introduction, 4th paragraph."

1. Jesus being visited by the Magi outside of the city of Jerusalem.

2. The blindness and indifference of the Jews to accompany the wise men to see Jesus.

3. Strangers from a foreign country seeking Jesus.

4. The civil head, Herod, was full of hatred and determined to put Jesus to death.

Matthew 4:12-16 may also be considered as a foreshadowing of Jesus" rejection by the Jews and acceptance by the Gentiles.

The Star of Bethlehem- Found within the story of the three wise men at Jesus' birth is the comment on what we call today as the Star of Bethlehem. This star appeared to these wise men in the east and guided them to the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures record another occurrence of stars that played important roles in redemption history. Joseph dreamed of the sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to him, which predicted his future rise to leadership over Egypt and his family ( Genesis 37:9).

Genesis 37:9, "And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me."

E. W. Bullinger says,

"It was in all probability the constellation of Coma in which ‘the Star of Bethlehem' appeared. There was a traditional prophecy, well-known in the East, carefully preserved and handed down, that a new star would appear in this sign when He whom it foretold should be born. This was, doubtless, referred to in the prophecy of Balaam, which would thus receive a double fulfillment, first of the literal ‘Star,' and also of the person to whom it referred. The Lord said by Balaam ( Numbers 24:17), ‘There shall come* a star out of Jacob, And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel.'

* i.e, come forth (as in the RV). ‘At' is rendered in Genesis 3:24 ‘There shall come forth a star "at" or "over" the inheritance or possessions of Jacob,' thus indicating the locality which would be on the meridian of this star. 297]

297] E. W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars (London: E. W. Bullinger, c 1893), 36-7.

One of the more intriguing theories in recent years as to the origin of the star of Bethlehem comes from a lawyer named Frederick A. Larson. His research using computer generated astronomy software provides an accurate map of the alignment of the stars during the time of Christ, reveals strong evidence as to the identification of this famous star. He extracts nine characteristics of the star from the biblical text, then eliminates the possibilities of the star being a meteor, comet, or nova based upon this evidence. 298] He explains how the kingly planet Jupiter fulfilled all of these conditions in 3,2 B.C. In September of 3 B.C. Jupiter made a close "conjunction" to the star "Regulus," so that they appeared as one shining object, an event that happens every twelve years. Jupiter then dropped back from Regulus in a phenomenon called "retrograde motion." The conjunction and retrograde of Jupiter and Regulus took place three times, so that Jupiter appeared to "crown" the star Regulus thrice. In addition, this rare event took place within the constellation Leo the Lion, signifying the tribe of Judah. At this was taking place, the constellation Virgo, which follows Leo, would rise with the sun with the moon following. Larson believes this combination of events fits the vision of Revelation 12:1-5 in which the sign in heaven was a woman clothed with the sun. The constellation of the dragon would follow Virgo in the sky. The time of the full moon could be described as being at her feet. In nine months, June of 2 B.C, the planet Jupiter would travel through the starry sky and cross paths with Venus to form a very bright light. If the Magi had made their way to Jerusalem, then turned south to make the five-mile trip to Bethlehem, they would have seen this conjunction of planets as a bright light over this Messianic city in the early hours of the morning. Such astronomical activity may have gone unnoticed by King Herod until it was pointed out to him. Had the star of Bethlehem been a comet or supernova, everyone would have been familiar with these lights in the sky; thus, Herod had to ask the Magi about this star. Regarding the description of the star stopping over Bethlehem, Larson explains that Jupiter would enter another retrograde motion on 25 December of 2 B.C, so that it appears to have stopped in the eyes of the Magi. Such a combination of astronomical events would meet the descriptions of the Star of Bethlehem. 299]

298] The nine characteristics are "(1) It signified birth. (2) It signified kingship. (3) It had a connection with the Jewish nation. (4) It rose in the east, like other stars. (5) It appeared at a precise time. (6) Herod didn't know when it appeared. (7) It endured over time. (8) It was ahead of the Magi as they went south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. (9) It stopped over Bethlehem." See Frederick A. Larson, "The Star of Bethlehem," [on-line]; accessed 6 January 2010; available from http://www.bethlehemstar.net; Internet.

299] Frederick A. Larson, "The Star of Bethlehem," [on-line]; accessed 6 January 2010; available from http://www.bethlehemstar.net; Internet.

Extra-biblical Accounts of Prophetic Royal Births - The prophetic events surrounding Jesus' royal birth as recorded in Matthew 1:1 to Matthew 2:12 are not unique to ancient literature. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) records the prophetic events surrounding the birth of Cyrus the Great, the Persian king. His father Astyages had several troubling dreams regarding the offspring of his daughter Mandane. The magi interpreted this dream in a way that alarmed the king, who sent her away to be married. At the birth of her Song of Solomon , the king attempted to kill the child, but circumstances prevented his death (see Herodotus 1107-113). 300]

300] Herodotus I, trans. A. D. Godley, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, c 1920, 1975), 139-147.

The Roman statesman Cicero (106-43 B.C.) says that the birth of Alexander the Great was accompanied by prophetic oracles from the magi. He writes, "On the very night that Olympias was delivered of Alexander, the temple of Diana of the Ephesians was burned; and when the morning dawned, the Magi declared that the ruin and destroyer of Asia had been born that night." (On Divination 123) 301]

301] Cicero, The Treatises of M. T. Cicero on the Nature of the Gods; on Divination; on Fate; on the Republic; on the Law; and on Standing for the Consulship, trans. C. D. Yonge (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), 164-165

The Roman historian Suetonius (A.D 70-130) says the birth of Caesar Augustus was accompanied by an omen that led the senate to decree that no male child should be allowed to live that year (The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 94). 302]

302] Suetonius, vol 1 , trans. J. C. Rolfe, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1979), 263-265.

The Jewish historian Josephus records the ancient Jewis tradition that the Pharoah's magicians predicted the birth of Moses and ordered all male children to be killed.

"One of those sacred scribes, who are very sagacious in foretelling future events truly, told the king, that about this time there would a child be born to the Israelites, who, if he were reared, would bring the Egyptian dominion low, and would raise the Israelites; that he would excel all men in virtue, and obtain a glory that would be remembered through all ages. Which thing was so feared by the king, that, according to this man's opinion, he commanded that they should cast every male child, which was born to the Israelites, into the river, and destroy it." (Antiquities 292)

Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Matthew 2:1 — "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king" - Comments- The fact that a statement about Jesus' birth begins each of the three sections of Matthew 1:1 to Matthew 2:12 shows that this passage of Scripture emphasizes the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures concerning Christ's prophetic birth ( Matthew 1:1; Matthew 1:18; Matthew 2:1).

Matthew 1:1, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."

Matthew 1:18, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost."

Matthew 2:1, "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,"

Matthew 2:1"behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem" - Word Study on "wise men" - Strong tells us that the Greek word "wise men," or "magi," ( μά γος) (G 3097) means, "a magian, i.e. Oriental scientist, by implication, a magician." This Greek word is used 6 times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as "wise Prayer of Manasseh 1:4, sorcerer 2." We see the word "magician" used in the Old Testament. These people stood before the Pharaoh of Egypt in the books of Genesis and Exodus. The Old Testament word for these "magicians," as the KJV calls them, is "chartom" ( חַרְטֹם) (H 2748), which means, "sacred scribes, or Babylonian magi" (Gesenius), "a horoscopist, magician" (Strong), "magician-astrologer" (TWOT). Strong says this Hebrew word comes from a primitive root ( חֶרֶט) (H 2747), which means, "to engrave." This Hebrew word is used 11times in the Old Testament ( Genesis 41:8; Genesis 41:24; Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:7; Exodus 8:18-19; Exodus 9:11[twice], Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2). In the book of Daniel the "wise men" ( חַכִּים) (H 2445) of Babylon stood before the king. These "wise men" (2;12, 13, 14, 18, 21, 24[twice], 27, 48; Matthew 4:6; Matthew 4:18; Matthew 5:7-8; Matthew 5:15) are distinguished from the "magicians" mentioned twice in the book of Daniel.

Comment- The origin of the wise men from the east who visited baby Jesus has been associated with the teachings of Zoroastrianism since the time of the early Church. For example, one of the New Testament Apocryphal writings entitled The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy makes a statement about the wise men visiting the baby Jesus because of the prophecy of Zerdusht, or Zoroaster, who lived in the sixth century B.C.:

"And it came to pass when the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem of Judaea, in the time of Herod the King; behold Magi came from the east to Jerusalem, as Zerdusht had predicted: and they had with them gifts, gold, incense, and myrrh; and worshipped him and offered unto him their gifts." (The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy 7) 303]

303] B. Harris Cowper, The Apocryphal Gospels and Other Documents Related to the History of Christ (Edinburgh, London: Williams and Norgate, 1867), 176.

This tradition seems to be based in antiquity. Among the classical writers, the Greek historian Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) identifies the "Magi" ( ΄άγοι) as one of the six tribes of the Median nations that made up a part of ancient Persia. 304] The Greek historian Xenophon (430-354 B.C.) says that King Cyrus used the Magi to sacrifices to the gods. 305] The Greek historian Diodorus (1st c. B.C.) refers to Chaldean Magi. 306] The Greek historian Strabo (63 B.C. to 24 A.D.) describes the Magi as a priestly caste among the Persians, worshiping and sacrificing to celestial bodies. 307] Philo of Alexandria (20 B.C. - A.D 50), a Jewish philosopher, identifies the Magi as Persians who are learned in the natural sciences and on moral virtues. 308] The Zend-Avesta, which is the sacred writing of the Persians who profess the teachings of Zoroaster, believed to have been composed in the early centuries A.D, reflects the ancient views of this religion. James Darmesteter says that this collection of writings was composed by the Magi. He gives a lengthy discussion of references to them in the Zend-Avesta and their role in the history of Zoroastrianism. 309] A casual reading of the Zend-Avesta reveals a great amount of attention that the Magi gave to the admiration of the stars and worship through animal sacrifices. 310] The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (325/330-391 A.D.) describes the Magi as a priestly case of Medes, who worshiped the stars and practiced divination. 311]

304] Herodotus writes, "Deioces, then, united the Median nation, and no other, and ruled it. The Median tribes are these the Busae, the Paretaceni, the Struchates, the Arizanti, the Budii, the Magi: so many are their tribes." (History of Herodotus 1101) See Herodotus, vol 1, trans. A. D. Godley, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, c 1920, 1975), 133.

305] Xenophon writes, "Such being his judgment, he showed himself, in the first place, most anxious to discharge his duties to the gods, at the time when he was in the greatest prosperity; and it was then that the Magi were first established under him; and he used to sing a hymn to the gods always at break of day, and to sacrifice every day to such deities as the Magi directed." (The Institution of Cyrus 8123) See Xenophon, The Cyropaedia, or Institutes of Cyrus, and the Hellenics, or Grecian History, trans. J. S. Watson and Henry Dale (London: George Bell and Sons, 1880), 238-239.

306] See Diodorus Siculus (Bibliotheca Historica 231) in Ludovici Dindorfii, ed, Diodori Bibliotheca Historica, vol 1 (Libsiae: Aedibus B. G. Teubneri, 1866), 189.

307] Strabo writes, "Such is the nature of the countries of Persis and Susiana. The manners and customs of the Persians are the same as those of the Susians and the Medes, and many other people; and they have been described by several writers, yet I must mention what is suitable to my purpose. The Persians do not erect statues nor altars, but, considering the heaven as Jupiter, sacrifice on a high place. They worship the sun also, whom they call Mithras, the moon, Venus, fire, earth, winds, and water. They sacrifice, having offered up prayers, in a place free from impurities, and present the victim crowned. After the Magus, who directs the sacrifice, has divided the flesh, each goes away with his share, without setting apart any portion to the gods; for the god, they say, requires the soul of the victim, and nothing more. Nevertheless, according to some writers, they lay a small piece of the caul upon the fire. But it is to fire and water especially that they offer sacrifice. They throw upon the fire dry wood without the bark, and place fat over it; they then pour oil upon it, and light it below; they do not blow the flame with their breath, but fan it; those who have blown the flame with their breath, or thrown any dead thing or dirt upon the fire, are put to death. They sacrifice to water by going to a lake, river, or fountain; having dug a pit, they slaughter the victim over it, taking care that none of the pure water near be sprinkled with blood, and thus be polluted. They then lay the flesh in order upon myrtle or laurel branches; the Magi touch it with slender twigs, and make incantations, pouring oil mixed with milk and honey, not into the fire, nor into the water, but upon the earth. They continue their incantations for a long time, holding in the hands a bundle of slender myrtle rods." (Geography of Strabo 1512-14) See The Geography of Strabo, vol 1, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library, ed. Henry G. Bohn (London: George Bell and Sons, 1903), 136-137.

308] Philo writes, "Among the Persians there is the body of the Magi, who, investigating the works of nature for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the truth, do at their leisure become initiated themselves and initiate others in the divine virtures by very clear explanations." (A Treatise to Prove that Every Man who is Virtuous is also Free 11) See C. D. Yonge, The Works of Philo Judaeus, the Contemporary of Josephus, vol 3 (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1855), 522-523.

309] James Darmesteter, The Zend-Aesta, part 1: The Vendidad, in The Sacred Books of the East, ed. F. Max Mller (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1880), xxxviii. xlvi-lii.

310] F. Max Mller, ed, The Zend-Aesta, 3vols, in The Sacred Books of the East (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1880-87).

311] Ammianus Marcellinus writes, "On the left, Media is bounded by the Hyrcanian Sea; a country which, before the reign of the elder Cyrus and the rise of Persia, we read was the supreme mistress of all Asia after the Assyrians had been conquered; the greater part of whose cantons had their name changed into one general appellation of Acrapatena, and fell by right of war under the power of the Medes...In these districts the lands of the Magi are fertile; and it may be as well to give a short account of that sect and their studies, since we have occasion to mention their name. Plato, that most learned deliverer of wise opinions, teaches us that Magiae is by a mystic name Machagistia, that is to say, the purest worship of divine beings; of which knowledge in olden times the Bactrian Zoroaster derived much from the secret rites of the Chaldasans; and after him Hystaspes, a very wise monarch, the father of Darius, Who while boldly penetrating into the remoter districts of upper India, came to a certain woody retreat, of which with its tranquil silence the Brahmans, men of sublime genius, were the possessors. From their teaching he learnt the principles of the motion of the world and of the stars, and the pure rites of sacrifice, as far as he could; and of what he learnt he infused some portion into the minds of the Magi, which they have handed down by tradition to later ages, each instructing his own children, and adding to it their own system of divination...Of this class the number among the ancients was small, and the Persian sovereigns employed their ministry in the solemn performance of divine sacrifices, and it was profanation to approach the altars, or to touch a victim before a Magus with solemn prayers had poured over it a preliminary libation." (Roman History 2327-35) See The Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus During the Reigns of the Emperiors Constantius, Julian, Jovianus, Valentinian, and Valens, trans. C. D. Young, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: George Bell and Sons, 894), 335-336.

Among the early Church fathers, Justin Martyr, 312] Tertullian 313] and Epiphanius 314] said they came from Arabia. Origen, 315] Maximus of Turin, 316] and Theodotus of Ancyra 317] associate the Magi with Chaldaea. Clement of Alexandria, 318] Chrysostom, 319] Cyril of Alexandria, 320] and Prudentius 321] said they came from Persia. Juvencus mentions them in his poetry as well. 322] Thus, the Magi were well known in ancient history. Meyer explains that the Magi "formed…a distinguished priestly caste, and occupied themselves principally with the knowledge of the secrets of nature, astrology, and medicine." 323]

312] Justin Martyr writes, "Now this king Herod, at the time when the Magi came to him from Arabia…" (Dialogue of Justin 78)

313] Tertullian writes, "Moreover, respecting that gift of gold, David also says: ‘And there shall be given to Him of the gold of Arabia;' and again: ‘The kings of Arabia and Saba shall offer to Him gifts.' For the East generally regarded the magi as kings; and Damascus was anciently deemed to belong to Arabia…" (Against Marcion 313)

314] See Epiphanius on Expositio Fidei Catholicae et Apostolicae 8 (PG 42col 785D).

315] Origen writes, "See now in this instance the blunder of one [Celsus] who cannot distinguish between Magi and Chaldeans…" (Against Celsus 158) Origen also writes, "After this, it seemed proper to Celsus to term the Chaldeans a most divinely-inspired nation from the very earliest times, from whom the delusive system of astrology has spread abroad among men. Nay, he ranks the Magi also in the same category, from whom the art of magic derived its name and has been transmitted to other nations." (Against Celsus 680)

316] See Maximus of Turin (Homilia 18) (PL 57 Colossians 261B).

317] See Theodotus of Ancyra (Homilia in die Nativitatis Domini 110) (PG 77 Colossians 1364C).

318] Clement of Alexandria writes, "First in its ranks were the prophets of the Egyptians; and the Chaldeans among the Assyrians; and the Druids among the Gauls; and the Samanaeans among the Bactrians; and the philosophers of the Celts; and the Magi of the Persians, who foretold the Saviour's birth, and came into the land of Judaea guided by a star." (The Stromata 115)

319] John Chrysostom writes, "And why did they at all worship one who was in swaddling clothes? For if He had been a grown Prayer of Manasseh , one might say, that in expectation of the succor they should receive from Him, they cast themselves into a danger which they foresaw; a thing however to the utmost degree unreasonable, that the Persian, the barbarian, and one that had nothing in common with the nation of the Jews, should be willing to depart from his home, to give up country, and kindred, and friends, and that they should subject themselves to another kingdom." (Homilies on Matthew 6:2)

320] See Cyril of Alexandria's comments on Isaiah 49:8-12 (PG 70 Colossians 1061B).

321] Prudentius writes, "In Persici ex orbis sinu, Sol unde sumit januam, Cernunt periti interpretes Regale vexillum magi." (Hymn For the Epiphany 1225-28) (PL 59 Colossians 902A) The translation by R. Martin Pope reads, "Lo! from the regions of the morn Wherein the radiant sun is born, The Persian sages see on high God"s ensign shining in the sky." See R. Martin Pope, The Hymns of Prudentius (London: J. M. Dent and Co, 1905), 137.

322] See Juvencus, Historia Evangelica 1259, 276-281 (PL 19 cols 94A-98A).

323] Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Gospel of Matthew , vol 1, trans. Peter Christie, ed. Frederick Crombie, in Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, trans. and eds. Willam P. Dickson and Frederick Crombie (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1880), 81.

Matthew 2:2 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.

Matthew 2:2"Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews" - Comments- How did the message of a coming Messiah spread to the East? It is possible that the news of God's promise to Abraham spread to Rebecca and Rachel's family in ancient times, but this probably is too far in antiquity to relate to the culture Magi. We also know from 2 Kings 17:6 that Assyria took many Jews into captivity into the cities of the Medes in the eighth century B.C. These Jews took with them their faith in God and the Scriptures into the land of the Medes.

2 Kings 17:6, "In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes."

More likely, the deportation of the Jews to Babylon in the sixth century B.C. spread God's promise of the Messiah abroad through men like the prophet Daniel. One ancient tradition associates Daniel with the teachings of Zoroastrianism. E. W. Bullinger says:

"Thomas Hyde, an eminent Orientalist (1636-1703), writing on the ancient religion of the Persians, quotes from ABULFARAGIUS (an Arab Christian Historian, 1226-1286), and says that ZOROASTER, or ZERDUSHT, the Persian, was a pupil of Daniel the Prophet, and that he predicted to the Magians (who were the astronomers of Persia), that when they should see a new star appear it would notify the birth of a mysterious child, whom they were to adore. It is further stated in the Zend Avesta that this new star was to appear in the sign of the Virgin. Some have supposed that this passage is not genuine. But whether it was interpolated before or after the event, it is equally good evidence for our purpose here. For if it was written before the event, it is evidence of the prophetic announcement; and if it was interpolated after the event it is evidence of the historic fact." 324]

324] E. W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars (London: E. W. Bullinger, c 1893), 36-7.

Baruch -Hebraeus, (Abu ‘l-Faraj), (1226-1286), also called "Abulfaragius" by Bullinger in the quote above, was a Syrian scholar and bishop of the Jacobite Church. He writes:

"In this age, there lived Zorodasht, the teacher of the sect of majicians [i.e. Magi]…He taught the Persians about the coming of Christ and directed them to offer up gifts to him. He proclaimed to them: In the last days, a virgin will conceive a child and when it is born, a star will appear that shines during the day, and in its midst will be visible the form of a virgin…So when you behold that star, make ready to go where it will lead you and, adoring it, offer up your gifts to the child. The child is the ‘Word' which has established the heavens." 325]

325] Bernard Nesfield-Cookson, The Mystery of the Two Jesus Children: And the Descent of the Spirit of the Sun (Forest Row, London: Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), 32-33. See Gregory Baruch -Hebreaus, History of the Dynasties, ed. Edward Pocock (Oxford, 1663, Beruit, 1890).

W. St. Clair Tisdall comments on the "wise men from the East":

"Sargon"s settlement of Israelites in Media (circa 730-728 BC ( 2 Kings 17:6)) accounts for the large Hebrew element of thought which Darmesteter recognizes in the Avesta (ISBE, IV, Intro, chapter vi). Median astronomers would thus know Balaam"s prophecy of the star out of Jacob ( Numbers 24:17). That the Jews expected a star as a sign of the birth of the Messiah is clear from the tractate Zohar of the Gemara and also from the title ‘Son of the Star' (Bar Kokhebha) given to a pseudo-Messiah (130-35 AD)" 326]

326] W. St. Clair Tisdall, "The Magi," in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, c 1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Matthew 2:2"for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him" - Comments- There are a number of Old Testament prophecies that associate stars or light to the coming of the Messiah ( Numbers 24:17, Isaiah 60:3).

Numbers 24:17, "I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth."

Isaiah 60:3, "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."

Matthew 2:2Comments- In Matthew 2:2 we see evidence that the book of Matthew is emphasizing Jesus as the Messiah and as the King of Kings.

Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Matthew 2:3Comments- Herod's troubled heart seems to foreshadow Jesus' death, burial and resurrection?

Matthew 2:6 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.

Matthew 2:6"And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda" - Comments (1) - The name "Bethlehem" literally means, "house of bread" (Strong). Jesus is the living bread from Heaven.

John 6:51, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

Comments (2) - Every city and township has it mayors and civic leaders. Each group of leaders is conscience of the importance of their particular city in respect to its neighboring cities and region of a nation. The people of some cities take great pride in having something special above other cities. So it was with Bethlehem, which measured it contribution to its society and nation and people by what it had to contribute. This prophecy declares that out of Bethlehem will come a leader who will rule over the nation, and even more importantly, over the people of God as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

Matthew 2:6Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - The prophecy of Matthew 2:6 is taken from Micah 5:2 :

Micah 5:2, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."

Matthew 2:9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

Matthew 2:9 — "and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them" - Comments- To say that the star that appeared to the magi was a supernova or the meeting of two planets creating a bright star is a statement that does not fit Matthew 2:10, which describes this star as moving. Perhaps this "star" was a physical manifestation of a host of angels guiding these men to the very house where Jesus was staying with Mary and Joseph.

Matthew 2:9"till it came and stood over where the young child was" - Comments- God will guide us all the way to where he sends us, to our destination- to Jesus. The Old Testament was somewhat like this guiding star that always points to Jesus Christ ( John 5:39).

John 5:39, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

Matthew 2:11 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.

Matthew 2:11"And when they were come into the house" - Comments- Jesus had been born in a stable in the town of Bethlehem. Now, approximately two years later, Joseph and Mary were living in a home in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:11 — "they saw the young child with Mary his mother" - Comments- The Gospel of Matthew continues the emphasis of Mary as Jesus" biological mother, and not on Joseph as the biological father. This is contrary to the Old Testament, where the mother is rarely mentioned, but rather the father, as in genealogies.

Matthew 2:11"and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh" - Comments- Commentators have long attempted to attach symbolic meanings to the gifts given to Jesus by the magi.

"gold" - Gold is often associated with kings in the Bible, thus this offering of gold could be symbolic of the baby Jesus being the King of Kings.

"frankincense" - E. W. G. Masterman says the Greek word "frankincense" ( λί βανος) (G 3030) is derived from a root word that means "white," because of "the milky color of the fresh juice." 327] This Greek word is often translated as "incense" in the KJV. Smith says, "It was called frank because of the freeness with which, when burned, it gives forth its odor. It burns for a long time, with a steady flame. It is obtained by successive incisions in the bark of a tree called Arbor thuris. The first incision yields the purest and whitest resin, hence its name, while the product of the after incisions is spotted with yellow, and loses its whiteness altogether as it becomes old." It was an odorous resin imported from Arabia ( Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20), yet also growing in Palestine ( Song of Solomon 4:14). Easton says, "It was one of the ingredients in the perfume of the sanctuary ( Exodus 30:34), and was used as an accompaniment of the meat-offering ( Leviticus 2:1; Leviticus 2:16; Leviticus 6:15; Leviticus 24:7). When burnt it emitted a fragrant odour, and hence the incense became a symbol of the Divine name ( Malachi 1:11, Song of Solomon 1:3) and an emblem of prayer ( Psalm 141:2, Luke 1:10, Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3)." Thus, frankincense can be symbolic of the divinity of the baby Jesus.

327] E. W. G. Masterman, "Frankincense," in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, c 1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Isaiah 60:6, "The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD."

Jeremiah 6:20, "To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me."

Song of Solomon 4:14, "Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:"

Exodus 30:34, "And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet — spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:"

Leviticus 2:1, "And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon:"

Leviticus 2:16, "And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD."

Leviticus 6:15, "And he shall take of it his handful, of the flour of the meat offering, and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense which is upon the meat offering, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour, even the memorial of it, unto the LORD."

Leviticus 24:7, "And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD."

Malachi 1:11, "For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts."

Song of Solomon 1:3, "Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee."

Psalm 141:2, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."

Luke 1:10, "And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense."

Revelation 5:8, "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints."

Revelation 8:3, "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne."

"myrrh" - In Mark 15:23, it is offered mingled with wine as an anesthetic to the suffering Redeemer, and in John 19:39 a "mixture of myrrh and aloes" is brought by Nicodemus to embalm the sacred body. Thus, myrrh could represent the humanity of the baby Jesus.

Mark 15:23, "And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not."

John 19:39-40, "And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury."

Song of Solomon , we have gold representing Jesus as the King of Kings, frankincense representing the divinity of Jesus, and myrrh representing the humanity of Jesus. Jesus always was, is and will be God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and worthy to be worshipped, whether as a newborn child, or in all of His heavenly splendor and glory.

This valuable treasure must have been the Lord's provision for Joseph and Mary and Jesus to flee into Egypt. It gave them the money to stay until King Herod was dead. God always provides for His own.

Matthew 2:11Comments- With reference to this act of the three Magi, some of the greatest men of faith in the Bible were non-Jews: Job ,, Ruth , the centurion, the Syrophoenician woman, and Cornelius.

Matthew 2:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Matthew 2:12Comments- The wise men were planning to report to Herod their good news until the angel warned them to do otherwise. They had sown a seed by offering gifts unto the Saviour, gifts that would finance the flight of Joseph and Mary and Jesus into the Egypt. The Lord in turn gave to them supernatural wisdom that saved their life, as they had contributed in saving the life of baby Jesus.


Verses 13-23

Calling: The Infancy and Childhood of Jesus the King - The narrative material in Matthew 2:13-23 is unique to the Gospel of Matthew as it records Joseph's flight into Egypt and return to Nazareth. While Matthew 1:1 to Matthew 2:12 places emphasis upon the predestined nature of Jesus Christ through the testimony of Scripture, Matthew 2:13-23 emphasizes His divine. Scholars generally view this passage of Scripture as a single unit because of its common theme of the infancy and childhood of Jesus Christ. With God's intervention in the affairs of Joseph and his family, Grant Osborne says one of the central ideas of this passage is "divine sovereignty in salvation history," 328] and David Turner mentions "the sovereignty of God" in his comments on Matthew 2:15 b and "divine providence" in his comments on Matthew 2:16-18, 329] while Donald Hagner refers to "divine providence" in this passage of Scripture. 330] Closer to the concept of divine calling, Charles Erdman uses the phrase "divine guidance," 331] and Bernhard Weiss uses the phrase "divine command" 332] regarding this passage. Willoughby Allen captures the concept of divine calling well by saying, "Just as of old the Israelite nation, Jehovah"s firstborn ( Exodus 412), had been called out of Egypt to be the chosen people; so Jesus the Son of God by supernatural conception was called out of Egypt to save His people." 333] While the concepts of divine sovereignty, providence, and guidance are more easily recognized and commonly expressed by commentators regarding this passage, more specifically, Matthew 2:13-23 records three occasions in which God intervenes as He spoke to Joseph in a dream and "called" him to relocate his family into Egypt because of Herod's wrath and back to Nazareth. Thus, the concept of "divine calling" is more easily recognized as divine sovereignty, intervention, or providence.

328] Grant R. Osborne, Matthew , in Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 94.

329] David L. Turner, Matthew , in Baker Evangelical Commentary on the New Testament, eds. Robert Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein (Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 90, 92.

330] Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 33A, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004), 34-35.

331] Charles Erdman says, "Two facts, however, are emphasized by the writer: the story, like that of the Magi, is one of divine guidance, and, secondly, all its incidents are declared to be in fulfillment of inspired prophecy." He then says, "Thus by means of his own choosing God is ever guiding those who are devoted to the interests of his Son." He again says, "Yet his [Jesus] dwelling there [Nazareth] was due to divine guidance." See Charles R. Erdman, The Gospel of Matthew An Exposition (Philadelphia: PA: The Westminster Press, 1920), 31-32.

332] Bernhard Weiss, A Commentary on the New Testament, vol 1, trans. George H. Schodde and Epiphanius Wilson (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1906), 12.

333] Willoughby C. Allen, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew , in The International Critical Commentary, eds. Charles Augustus Briggs and Samuel Rolles Driver (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907), 18.

The Literary Evidence of the Theme of Matthew 2:13-23 - The literary evidence of the theme of divine calling in Matthew 2:13-23 is seen in the use of the same Greek word καλέω used in Romans 8:30 that is also used in Matthew 2:15 in a similar sense, "Out of Egypt have I called my Song of Solomon ," and in Matthew 2:25, "He shall be called a Nazarene." Therefore, Matthew 2:15 interprets this divine intervention in the life of Joseph and his family as a divine "calling."

Romans 8:30, "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

During these three callings in which God spoke to Joseph ( Matthew 2:13; Matthew 2:19-20; Matthew 2:22), Matthew records the fulfillment of three Old Testament prophecies as a further testimony of His calling as the Messiah: (1) Joseph's flight into Egypt in Matthew 2:13-15 is in fulfillment of Hosea 11:1; (2) Herod's massacre of the Jewish children in Matthew 2:16-18 fulfills Jeremiah 13:11; and (3) Joseph's return to the city of Nazareth where Jesus was raised ( Matthew 2:19-23) testifying of the fulfillment of Scripture that He would be called a Nazarene, the exact reference being uncertain. Scholars recognize that these three sections ( Matthew 2:13-15, Matthew 2:16-18, Matthew 2:19-23) are clearly divided by the fact that each unit ends with an Old Testament quotation. 334] Matthew inserts the following fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures within their respective sections:

334] David Turner says, "Though the analysis here divides the rest of the chapter into three sections (13-15, 16-18, 19-23) coinciding with three formula quotations, Matthew 2:13-23as a whole should be viewed as a unit containing the withdrawal and return of the Messiah." See David L. Turner, Matthew , in Baker Evangelical Commentary on the New Testament, eds. Robert Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein (Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 88; R. T. France believes Matthew 1:18 to 2:23 is structured around the Matthean formula quotations derived from ἵνα πληρωθῇ, saying, "Sometimes the appeal to Scripture is overt, as in the five quotations which form the structural basis of 1:18-2:23…" See R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew , in New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2007), 25.

Matthew 2:15, "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."

Matthew 2:17-18, "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 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."

Matthew 2:23, "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."

The Literary Evidence of the Structure of Matthew 2:13-23 - The literary evidence that supports the divisions within Matthew 2:13-23 is the fact that the three sections ( Matthew 2:13-15; Matthew 2:16-18; Matthew 2:19-23) begin with participial clauses, with 13-15,19-23also beginning with the Greek genitive absolute construction. These three prophecies that were fulfilled during His childhood confirm God's divine calling of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and King. Matthew is careful to quote each of the three prophecies that were fulfilled during His infancy and childhood. The rest of Matthew's Gospel (chapters 3-28) deals with the fulfillment of specific Old Testament prophecies regarding His earthly ministry, His passion, and resurrection.

Outline- Here is a proposed outline:

1. O.T. Fulfillment of Calling from Egypt — Matthew 2:13-15

2. O.T. Fulfillment of Herod Massacres the Children — Matthew 2:16-18

3. O.T. Fulfillment of Calling as a Nazarite — Matthew 2:19-23

Comparison of Narrative Material Regarding Jesus' Childhood in Luke and Matthew - Luke 2:39-40 tells us how Jesus and His family returned to Nazareth after His birth. However, we must be able to reconcile this account with that of Matthew 2:13-15, which describes Joseph's flight to Egypt until the death of King Herod before returning to Nazareth. Apparently, the family did not go immediately to Nazareth, but first fled to Egypt and later made their way to Nazareth. We know from Luke 2:22 that His parents stayed in the area of Bethlehem at least one month, during which time they dedicated baby Jesus in the Temple. We do not know precisely the time of the visit of the wise men from the East, but it was within the first two years of Jesus' birth. A popular way to harmonize the Gospel narratives on Jesus' childhood is give the following order of events: Jesus' birth ( Luke 2:1-7), the visit by the shepherds ( Luke 2:8-20), Jesus' dedication in the Temple ( Matthew 2:22-23), the visit by the wise men ( Matthew 2:1-12), His flight to Egypt and the killing of the children in Bethlehem ( Matthew 2:13-18), Jesus' return to Nazareth ( Matthew 2:19-23, Luke 2:39), His childhood in Nazareth ( Luke 2:40). 335]

335] A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ Based on the Broadus Harmony of the Revised Version (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1922), xiv.

Luke 2:39, "And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth."

Matthew 2:13-15 — The Messiah's Childhood: Calling from Egypt - Matthew's first testimony of how Jesus' childhood calling fulfilled Old Testament prophecy is recorded in Matthew 2:13-15, where he records the story of Joseph's flight into Egypt until the death of Herod, and calling back to Israel. This event fulfilled the prophecy of Hosea 11:1 and is quoted in Matthew 2:15.

Hosea 11:1, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt."

Matthew 2:15, "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."

We should keep in mind that the underlying emphasis of Matthew 1:1 to Matthew 2:23 is on the divine foreknowledge of God the Father in effecting His plan of redemption for mankind. Thus, we see the angel of the Lord intervening in Joseph's life to show him God's divine providence at work in his life.

Matthew 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Matthew 2:13"saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother" - Comments- Notice that it did not say, "Joseph's child." The Gospel of Matthew is careful not to imply that Joseph is the biological father.

Matthew 2:13 — "and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word" - Comments - The angel of the Lord brought Joseph word to return to Israel in Matthew 2:19-20, "But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child"s life."

Matthew 2:13 — "for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him" - Comments - The Greek phrase μέλλει ζητεῖν (about to seek) carries a greater note of imminence than the future tense. Some modern English translations bring out this sense of urgency better than the KJV.

ESV, "for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."

NCV, "because Herod is starting to look for the child so he can kill him."

NRSV, "for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."

Matthew 2:13Comments - Matthew 2:13 serves as a clear illustration of how the Lord guides us in our spiritual journey. My experiences has been that the Lord has always been faithful to speak to me in a supernatural way, usually in a dream, when a major change or decision was coming in my life. Thus, an angel of the Lord warned Joseph of what to do in a dream. I have also learned to continue on the same path of God's last supernatural instruction until a season of change comes, and the Lord directs me otherwise. Thus, did the angel tell Joseph to stay in Egypt until the Lord instructed him otherwise.

As long as I follow this simple principle, I have found that I am in the Lord's plan for my life. It is when I make major changes without the Lord's direction that I am in danger of missing God's will. It is important to note that the Lord does not speak to us in such strong ways regarding every little issue in our life. It is just when a major change is coming that the Lord is always faithful to instruct us, just as He did with Joseph.

Also, although Mary was a godly person as was Joseph, the Lord will give the head of a household instruction, realizing that those under that household will follow.

Matthew 2:14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

Matthew 2:15 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.

Matthew 2:15Comments- Comments- The phrase ἵνα πληρωθῇ (that it might be fulfilled) is unique to the Gospel of Matthew , being used nine times ( Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 2:23; Matthew 4:14; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:4), with similar phrases being used loosely three times in other places in Matthew ( Matthew 13:14; Matthew 26:56; Matthew 27:9). 336] The reason this phrase is unique to the Gospel of Matthew is because the primary theme of this Gospel is the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, which states that Jesus Christ is the coming Messiah, who will reign as King of the Jews. Thus, the Gospel of Matthew continually declares that Jesus Christ fulfills Old Testament Messianic passages.

336] A tenth Matthean ἵνα πληρωθῇ formula can be found in Matthew 27:35 in the KJV. However, the rules of modern textual criticism require the omission this phrase from the UBS4 because it is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts. Thus, only nine ἵνα πληρωθῇ formulae will be considered in this commentary.

Matthew 2:16-18 — The Messiah's Childhood: Herod Massacres the Children - Matthew's second testimony of how Jesus' childhood calling fulfilled Old Testament prophecy is recorded in Matthew 2:16-18, where he records the story of Herod's massacre of the Jewish children. This event fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15 and is quoted in Matthew 2:17-18.

Jeremiah 31:15, "Thus saith the LORD A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not."

Matthew 2:17-18, "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 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."

Extra-biblical References to Herod's Massacre of the Jewish Children - Donald Hagner believers there is one possible reference to Herod's massacre of the Jewish children recorded in Matthew 2:16-18. The Roman author Macrobius (A.D 5th c.) writes, "When he heard that the boys were in Syria, King Herod ordered the murder of the Jews, within two years of age, his son was killed, said: It is better to be Herod"s pig than his son." (Saturnalia 2411) 337]

337] Macrobius, Macrobii Ambrosii Theodosii Opera quae supeersunt, vol 2, ed. Ludwig von Jan (Quedlinburghi et Lipsiae: Typis ed sumptibus GG. Bassii, 1852), 235.

Matthew 2:16 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.

Matthew 2:16 — "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth" - Comments- Having worked for years in a developing nation, where corruption is still an issue, I have seen corrupt and immature leaders and managers make emotional, impulsive decisions like Herod does here. They tend to take no counsel from advisors. These types of decisions are not for the good of the people that these leaders serve, but are based on ego and fear of losing power and control.

Matthew 2:16Comments- Suetonius (A.D 70-130), the Roman historian, records a similar event prior to the birth of Octavius Augustus (b 63 B.C.), the Roman emperor from 31 B.C. to A.D 14. 338] Perhaps King Herod was familiar enough with this previous event to follow it by killing the children when confronted with a similar situation.

338] Suetonius writes, "According to Julius Marathus, a few months before Augustus was born a portent was generally observed at Rome, which gave warning that nature was pregnant with a King for the Roman people. Thereupon the Senate in consternation decreed that no male child born that year should be reared. But those whose wives were with child saw to it that the decree was not filed in the treasury, 2since each one appropriated the prediction to his own family." (Octavius Augustus). See Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, trans. Joseph Gavorse (New York: The Modern Library, 1931), 108

Matthew 2:17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

Matthew 2:17Comments- Comments- The phrase ἵνα πληρωθῇ (that it might be fulfilled) is unique to the Gospel of Matthew , being used nine times ( Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 2:23; Matthew 4:14; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:4), with similar phrases being used loosely three times in other places in Matthew ( Matthew 13:14; Matthew 26:56; Matthew 27:9). 339] The reason this phrase is unique to the Gospel of Matthew is because the primary theme of this Gospel is the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, which states that Jesus Christ is the coming Messiah, who will reign as King of the Jews. Thus, the Gospel of Matthew continually declares that Jesus Christ fulfills Old Testament Messianic passages.

339] A tenth Matthean ἵνα πληρωθῇ formula can be found in Matthew 27:35 in the KJV. However, the rules of modern textual criticism require the omission this phrase from the UBS4 because it is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts. Thus, only nine ἵνα πληρωθῇ formulae will be considered in this commentary.

Matthew 2:18 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.

Matthew 2:18Comments- While praying in October 1987 about where the Lord would have me to go and to minister the name of Jesus, the Lord seemed to quicken this verse about "Rama," to go to a land where death and destruction, weeping and wailing, prevailed. Little would I realize that in July 1997, ten years later, I would be in Uganda, East Africa, a land where the most awful atrocities to mankind were ever committed during the dictatorships of Idi Amin and Milton Obode, who ruled their nation with an iron fist from the early 60's until the mid 80's, after which such atrocities took place in northern Uganda by Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army rebels from the mid 80's until the late 2000's.

Matthew 2:19-23 — The Messiah's Childhood: Joseph's Return to Nazareth - Matthew's third testimony of how Jesus' childhood calling fulfilled Old Testament prophecy is recorded in Matthew 2:19-23, where he records the story of Joseph's return from Egypt to the city of Nazareth where Jesus was raised. Matthew 2:23 testifies to the fulfillment of the prophecy that He would be called a Nazarene, the exact Old Testament reference being uncertain.

Matthew 2:23, "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."

We should keep in mind that the underlying emphasis of Matthew 1:1 to Matthew 2:23 is on the divine foreknowledge of God the Father in effecting His plan of redemption for mankind. Thus, we see the angel of the Lord intervening in Joseph's life to show him God's divine providence at work in his life.

Matthew 2:19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

Matthew 2:19Comments - King Herod ruled over Jewish Palestine from 37-4 B.C. There are no credible records of the age of Jesus at the timeof his death in 4 B.C.

Matthew 2:20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child"s life.

Matthew 2:20Comments - The Lord made a similar statement to Moses when telling him to return to Egypt to lead God's children out of bondage.

Exodus 4:19, "And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life."

Matthew 2:21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

Matthew 2:22 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:

Matthew 2:23 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.

Matthew 2:23"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth" - Comments- Why did he go to Nazareth of Galilee? The Gospel of Luke reveals that this was their former home. So naturally they would have a tendency to return to people whom they knew. Note:

Luke 1:26-27, "And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin"s name was Mary."

Luke 2:3-4, "And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)"

Luke 2:39, "And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth."

Matthew 2:23 — "that it might be fulfilled" - Comments- Comments- The phrase ἵνα πληρωθῇ (that it might be fulfilled) is unique to the Gospel of Matthew , being used nine times ( Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 2:23; Matthew 4:14; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:4), with similar phrases being used loosely three times in other places in Matthew ( Matthew 13:14; Matthew 26:56; Matthew 27:9). 340] The reason this phrase is unique to the Gospel of Matthew is because the primary theme of this Gospel is the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, which states that Jesus Christ is the coming Messiah, who will reign as King of the Jews. Thus, the Gospel of Matthew continually declares that Jesus Christ fulfills Old Testament Messianic passages.

340] A tenth Matthean ἵνα πληρωθῇ formula can be found in Matthew 27:35 in the KJV. However, the rules of modern textual criticism require the omission this phrase from the UBS4 because it is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts. Thus, only nine ἵνα πληρωθῇ formulae will be considered in this commentary.

Matthew 2:23 — "which was spoken by the prophets" - Comments- On twelve occasions the Gospel Matthew uses a set of similar "quotation formulas" in reference to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. On six occasions he identifies the prophet by name ( Matthew 2:17; Matthew 3:3; Matthew 4:14; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17; Matthew 27:9); on five occasions Matthew refers to "the prophet" without a proper name ( Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:5; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:11); and on one occasion he uses the plural "by the prophets" ( Matthew 2:23). Since Matthew 2:23 contains no direct quotation from an Old Testament prophet, nor does this phrase occur "in any pre-Christian extra-biblical writings known to us," Donald Hagner suggests that Matthew has in mind "a motif common to several prophets." 341]

341] Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol 33A, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Matthew 2:23.

Matthew 2:23 — "He shall be called a Nazarene" - Comments- Because scholars do not clearly identify an Old Testament passage in Matthew 2:23, several possible views have been set forth.

1. A Nazarite- Matthew may have been referring to the Nazarite in Judges 13:5, "…for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb…" The Hebrew word "naw-zeer" ( נָזִיר) (H 5139) ( ναζιραῖον in the LXX in Judges 13:5; Judges 13:7) is similar to the Greek word ναζωραῖ ος "Nazarene" ( Matthew 2:23). Hagner notes that although John the Baptist was identified with as a Nazarite ( Luke 1:15), Jesus was accused of being "a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners" ( Matthew 11:19). 342]

342] Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol 33A, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Matthew 2:23.

Judges 13:5, "For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."

Judges 13:7, "But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death."

Luke 1:15, "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother"s womb."

Matthew 11:19, "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."

2. The Branch - On popular view attempts to associated the Nazarene with the Hebrew word "neser" ( נֵצֶר) (H 5342) in Isaiah 11:1, which refers metaphorically to Jesus as the "Branch" of Jesse. This Hebrew word is similar as well. Isaiah 53:2 repeats the Messianic branch/plant metaphor. Hagner notes that although this Hebrew term "the Branch" is used only once in the Old Testament, it developed into an important motif that became woven in the ancient rabbinical writings. 343]

343] Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol 33A, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Matthew 2:23.

Isaiah 11:1, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:"

Isaiah 53:2, "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."

 


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Matthew 2:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/matthew-2.html. 2013.

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Sunday, December 8th, 2019
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