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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Matthew 2:12

And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Heathen;   Jesus, the Christ;   Magi;   Wisdom;   Wise Men;   Scofield Reference Index - Kingdom;   Thompson Chain Reference - Dreams;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Egypt;   Obedience to God;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Herod;   Magi or Wise Men;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Dream;   Edom;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Foreigner;   Jerusalem;   Magic;   Sleep;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Hutchinsonians;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Divination;   Dream;   Herod the Great;   Jesus;   Magic;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Archaeology and Biblical Study;   Bethlehem;   Epiphany;   Fall;   Antiochus IV;   Matthew, the Gospel of;   Midrash;   Wisdom and Wise Men;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Herod;   Interpretation;   Jesus Christ;   Magi;   Magic, Divination, and Sorcery;   Mss;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Admonition;   Birth of Christ;   Dates (2);   Dream;   Dream (2);   Flight;   Infancy;   Magi ;   Night (2);   Star (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Dreams;   Herod the Great;   Herod, Family of;   Magi ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Herodians;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Bethlehem;   Dream;   Gospel;   Magi;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ma'gi;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Eclipse;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Augury;   Dream;   Innocents, Massacre of the;   Zoroastrianism;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;  

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

11. Herod and the Magi (Matthew 2:1-18)

It seems that after the ceremonies in Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary returned with Jesus to Bethlehem. Because most of the travellers had now gone, they were able to move into the house (see Matthew 2:11). Meanwhile, in a country to the east, men known as Magi (people who study the stars) had worked out that a new king was born in Judea and they came to Jerusalem looking for him (Matthew 2:1-2).

Herod the Great was ruler of Judea at the time, and he had no desire to see a rival Jewish king set up. From the Magi he learnt the time of the new king’s birth, and from the Jewish scholars he learnt the place of his birth. He urged the Magi to locate the child then report back to him so that he could go and pay homage (Matthew 2:3-8). The Magi found Jesus and worshipped him, but when they learnt that Herod planned to kill him, they returned home without first reporting to Herod (Matthew 2:9-12). Mary and Joseph also learnt of Herod’s planned treachery, and escaped with the child to the safety of Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15).

When, after some time, the Magi did not return, Herod saw that the only way to be certain of destroying the new king was to kill all male children under two years of age in the Bethlehem area. He fixed the age of the doomed children according to details given him by the Magi, which suggests that Jesus by this time was between one and two years old (Matthew 2:16-18). (For Herod and his family see earlier section, ‘The New Testament World’.)

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 2:12". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/matthew-2.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

Being warned of God in a dream ... the wise men refused to cooperate with Herod. His caution in calling the wise men privily (Matthew 2:7) was of no avail. He that "slumbers not nor sleeps" was watching over the Saviour's cradle. Dreams were often a vehicle of revelation among the Hebrews. They were considered inferior to visions but often played a vital role in protecting the chosen people. Interpretation of dreams always belonged to God alone. See Genesis 40:8; Genesis 41:16; Daniel 1:17.

They returned ... another way. The old ways are forsaken forever by those who truly worship Christ. The return of the wise men by ANOTHER WAY suggests the new and better passage that God gives His worshipers in delivering them from sin and leading them into eternal life.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Matthew 2:12". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/matthew-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Warned of God - This was done, doubtless, because, if they had given Herod precise information where he was, it would have been easy for him to send forth and kill him. And from this we learn that God will watch over those whom He loves; that He knows how to foil the purposes of the wicked, and to deliver His own out of the hands of those who would destroy them.

In a dream - See the note at Matthew 1:20.

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These files are public domain.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 2:12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/matthew-2.html. 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter Two

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king ( Matthew 2:1 ),

This is Herod the Great, that little short monster. He was a little over four feet tall, and as really short little guys probably suffered a tremendous ego problem. And thus significantly everything he did was big. I mean, he built great fortresses out of great rocks. I stood next to a rock that is along the Western Wall in Jerusalem that Herod had built as a retaining wall, to build up the temple mount to place the temple on top. Back underneath where tourists can't go, I stood by a rock that was forty-seven feet long, ten feet high, and ten feet wide. It is estimated to weigh one hundred and seventy tons. This little Herod had that rock put there.

He was a genius at building. He built, of course, the Herodian. He built Masada. He built another fortress similar to the Herodian that has not yet really been excavated, the Alexandrian. He built, of course, the great temple in Jerusalem. He built the temple mount area. He built Caesarea, and tremendous building projects by this little genius; built the pools over near Bethlehem, and the whole water system for Jerusalem. Today you can still look at many of the building projects of Herod and stand in absolute amazement at the building genius of this little fellow.

He also was horribly cruel and paranoid. He thought that his sons and his wife, Miriam, were plotting against him, so he had them all put to death. Then he began to miss Miriam, so he built a big monument to Miriam because he missed her after he had killed her. They used to say, "It's safer to be Herod's pig than to be his son," because he was always paranoid that his sons were trying to take over his throne. So he was having them killed all the time and wiped out most of his sons because of his paranoia. He was a very insecure little fellow and that is why these big fortresses that he built, and would seek refuge in the fortresses.

Now in time, he realized that as the result of his own cruelty and meanness, no one would weep when he died. And he couldn't stand the thought of no one weeping when he died, so he gave orders that when he died all of his top officials were to be killed, executed, because he wanted people to mourn when he was dead. And he knew they wouldn't mourn for him, so in order that there would be mourning when he died, he ordered all these popular officials to be put to death when he died. Fortunately, when he died, they had enough sense to realize, well, why should we obey his order; he's dead? And the other officials were not executed and thus he went unmourned.

Now in those days when

Herod was king, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, and they said, Where is he that is born the King of the Jews? ( Matthew 2:1-2 ).

Can't you imagine what that would do to this little insecure Herod? These guys are asking. I'm the King of the Jews. What do you mean, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" He was so threatened in his position that when these men came from the east to inquire of the birth of the King of the Jews, he really got shook.

They said,

for we have seen his star in the east, and we are come to worship Him ( Matthew 2:2 ).

Now there is an awful lot that has been written about the star of Bethlehem. They have said it was a conjunction of planets, and they have come up with many different speculations as to what astronomically constituted the star of Bethlehem. In the Griffith Observatory in December, they oftentimes have as that monthly lecture, the star of Bethlehem. And of course with that in the Planetarium there, they can adjust the lights in the ceiling to represent the skies in any period of history. They can take you back through the years to the time of the birth of Christ and show you the constellations, planet alignments, and so forth. They have a very interesting lecture on the star of Bethlehem.

But just exactly what did take place that constituted this special sign in the sky is a matter of many men's speculations. But that, at the present time, as valid as it is, it is the speculation of man, and we do not know for sure. And God did not call me to speculate. So we will just let that go.

we have seen his star in the East, and we have come to worship him ( Matthew 2:2 ).

If they were in the East and saw the star, then it evidently led them westward. So it was some kind of perhaps special and supernatural sign, as I'll point out in a moment.

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

Because when Herod is troubled, everybody is troubled.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and the scribes of the people together, he demanded [not he inquired] of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, [look these fellows know their Scriptures] in Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet [the prophet Micah], 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 2:4-6 ).

They didn't finish the prophecy. But you go back to Micah and you read, "whose going forth is from everlasting" ( Micah 5:2 ). And he speaks about His sitting upon the throne and reigning. So Bethlehem's pinpointed as the birthplace.

So when Herod had privately called the wise men, he inquired of them diligently when they first saw the star ( Matthew 2:7 ).

So they told him when they first saw the star and began their journey. So

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also ( Matthew 2:8 ).

Herod had a very perverted sense of worship.

When they had heard the king [that is king Herod], 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 ).

It is hard to really explain then this star by some kind of a natural phenomenon, in that they saw it in the East. It led them west, but now it is leading them back east, because Bethlehem is actually south and east of Jerusalem.

"It stood", notice, "over where the young child was." Notice it didn't stand over the manger. It didn't stand over where the baby was, but it stood over where the "young child was". Here is where our Christmas cards and our Christmas pageants throw us off, because it makes such a glorious climax to the Christmas pageantry to have the wise men coming to the manger on their camels, and laying down their gifts before the baby in the manger, while the shepherds are peering on wild-eyed. It's something typical of Christmas cards, or of the Christmas pageantry, but the wise men were latecomers. By the time that they had arrived, Joseph and Mary had moved out of the manger and had moved into a house in Bethlehem. The wise men, I am sorry, did not come to the manger, but actually arrived later on, perhaps a year or as much as two years later. When the wise men finally arrived and they found the young child, by this time Jesus was probably walking around and saying a few words.

And when they were come into the house, [not into the manger, but 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 [befitting the king], and frankincense, and myrrh ( Matthew 2:11 ).

Myrrh was a spice for burial--quite significant that it would be given to "the young child."

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

They didn't bother to go back to Jerusalem because God warned them not to.

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph ( Matthew 2:13 ),

Now again, Joseph is really in contact with the Lord and the Spirit.

and the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word: for Herod is going to seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And there he was until the death of Herod: [in order] that it might be fulfilled ( Matthew 2:13-15 ),

Notice how Matthew over and over is showing that these aspects of the life of Christ were in reality a fulfillment of prophecy,

which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, he sent forth, and killed all of the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the area around, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men ( Matthew 2:15-16 ).

Remember, they said, "when did you first see the star?" So they told him when they first saw the star and that's why he killed the children two years old and under, because they had first seen the star some two years earlier, which again shows Christ was not a baby in a manger when the wise men arrived.

Then Herod when he killed all the children,

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, of lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, as Rachel was weeping for her children ( Matthew 2:17-18 ),

Now of course, it's significant that Rachel actually died there just on the outskirts of Bethlehem and her tomb is there at Bethlehem. She died in childbirth at the birth of Benjamin. You remember she called his name Benoni, because of the grief. And so the prophecy of Rachel who had died there in Bethlehem. The people, of course, around Bethlehem revere the place of her burial, her tomb there. "Rachel weeping for her children and would not be comforted because they are not," because they have been killed.

But when Herod was dead,[he died shortly thereafter], behold, an angel of the Lord appeared 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. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and they came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there: notwithstanding, he was warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the area of Galilee ( Matthew 2:19-22 ):

He went back up into the area where he originated from, actually in Galilee where Mary had first received the word from Gabriel that she was to become the mother of the Christ child.

And they came and they 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 ).

All the way through, Matthew is showing you that Christ is the fulfillment of prophecy. Matthew is a prophecy buff.

"



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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 2:12". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/matthew-2.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. The prophecy about Bethlehem 2:1-12

 

The Old Testament not only predicted how Messiah would be born (Matthew 1:18-25) but where He would be born (Matthew 2:1-12).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 2:12". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/matthew-2.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

C. The King’s childhood ch. 2

There is nothing in chapter 2 that describes Jesus Himself. Therefore Matthew’s purpose was not simply to give the reader information about Jesus’ childhood. Rather he stressed the reception that the Messiah received having entered the world. The rulers were hostile, the Jewish religious leaders were indifferent, but the Gentiles welcomed and worshipped Him. These proved to be typical responses throughout Jesus’ ministry, as Matthew’s Gospel reveals. This literary device of presenting implication and then realization is common in the first Gospel. Also in this chapter there are several references to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (Matthew 2:5-6; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17-18; Matthew 2:23). Matthew wanted to continue to prove that Jesus was the promised Messiah who fulfilled what the prophets had predicted. In chapter 1 the emphasis is more on how Jesus’ identity fulfilled prophecy, but in chapter 2 it is more on how Jesus’ geographical connections fulfilled prophecy. To prove that Jesus was the Christ, Matthew had to show that Jesus was born where the Old Testament said Messiah would be born. Another purpose of this chapter was to show God’s providential care of His Son.

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These files are public domain.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 2:12". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/matthew-2.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Perhaps "the" star (Matthew 2:2), whatever it was, was so bright that the wise men could see it as they traveled in daylight. Travel at night was common to avoid the heat, so they may have made the five-mile trip south to Bethlehem at night. Nevertheless this would have been winter, so they probably traveled during daylight hours. [Note: Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, pp. 25-26.]

The star could have identified Bethlehem as the town where Jesus abode, and the Magi could have obtained His exact location from the residents. On the other hand, the star may have identified the very house where Joseph and Mary dwelt. This seems more likely in view of Matthew 2:11. God supernaturally guided the seekers so they found the Messiah. God’s provision gave them great joy (Matthew 2:10; cf. Luke 2:10).

The reaction of the wise men to discovering "the child" and His mother was to bow and worship Him. Notice that they did not worship Mary nor did they worship Jesus through Mary.

It was customary in the ancient Near East to present gifts when approaching a superior (cf. Genesis 43:11; 1 Samuel 9:7-8; 1 Kings 10:2). The wise men produced these from their "treasures" or coffers. The expensive gifts reflected the great honor the Magi bestowed on the Christ child. The gold probably financed Joseph and Mary’s trip to Egypt (Matthew 2:14-21). Frankincense is a gum obtained from the resin of certain trees that was particularly fragrant. Myrrh was also a sap-like substance that came from a tree that grew in Arabia. People used it as a spice and as a perfume often in embalming as well as in other applications. Many commentators, ancient and modern, have seen symbolic significance in these three gifts. Some have said gold suggests royalty while others have seen deity. Some say incense represents deity while others believe it better represents perfect humanity. Most expositors view myrrh as prefiguring Jesus’ death and burial. It is unlikely that the Magi saw this significance, but Matthew may have intended his readers to see it. This act by Gentile leaders also prefigures the wealth that the Old Testament prophets said the Gentiles would one day present to Israel’s Messiah (Psalms 72:10-11; Psalms 72:15; Isaiah 60:5; Isaiah 60:11; Isaiah 61:6; Isaiah 66:20; Zephaniah 3:10; Haggai 2:7-8). This will occur in the fullest sense at the Second Coming of Christ.

God supernaturally intervened to keep the Magi from returning to Herod who would have then been able to target Jesus precisely. Dreams were a common method of divine guidance during the Old Testament economy in which Jesus lived (cf. Numbers 12:6).

Several contrasts in this section reveal Matthew’s emphases. Herod, the wicked Idumean usurper king, contrasts with Jesus, the born righteous king of Israel. The great distance from which the Magi traveled to visit Jesus contrasts with the short distance Israel’s leaders had to travel to see Him. The genuine worship of the wise men contrasts with the feigned worship of Herod and the total lack of worship of the chief priests and scribes. The Gentile Magi’s sensitivity and responsiveness to divine guidance also contrast with the insensitivity and unresponsiveness of Israel’s leaders.

"The first to worship the King in Matthew’s Gospel are Gentiles, an implication of the last command of the Messiah. The supernatural stellar manifestations attest the divine character of the person of Jesus. Matthew also notes the fact that the Magi who worship the Messiah of Israel are forced to take refuge from Bethlehem. This, too, is a hint of the future antagonism of Israel to their King." [Note: Toussaint, p. 51.]

". . . he [Matthew] contrasts the eagerness of the Magi to worship Jesus, despite their limited knowledge, with the apathy of the Jewish leaders and the hostility of Herod’s court-all of whom had the Scriptures to inform them. Formal knowledge of the Scriptures, Matthew implies, does not in itself lead to knowing who Jesus is . . ." [Note: Carson, "Matthew," p. 86.]

"Even though Israel is cognizant of the prophecies, they are blind to spiritual realities. The King of Israel is worshiped by Gentiles, while His own people do not bother to own Him as their King. The condition of Israel is clearly implied in the early verses of Matthew’s Gospel. They are cold and indifferent." [Note: Toussaint, p. 52]

"The Gentile wise men worship the King of the Jews; the Jews are apathetic; and Herod is concerned only for his throne. Herod’s interest in his own political well-being marks the attitude of the governmental authorities throughout the remainder of the Gospel." [Note: Ibid., p. 53.]

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 2:12". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/matthew-2.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Being warned of God in a dream,.... It is likely they made a short stay at Bethlehem, might lodge there a night; at least laid themselves down a while to take some refreshment in sleep, after they had paid their respects to him that was born king of the Jews, and performed the whole business they came about; when in a dream they received a divine oracle, were admonished and counselled by God,

that they should not return to Herod: which would have been going back again, and out of their way; there being a nearer one from Bethlehem to their own country, than to go by Jerusalem, though Herod had charged them to return to him. Whether they had promised him they would, is not certain; it is probable they might; however, they thought it most advisable to hearken to the divine oracle; wherefore,

they departed into their own country another way. What became of these persons afterwards, and whether they were spiritually and savingly enlightened into the knowledge of Christ; what a report they made of him when they came into their own country, and the success thereof, we have no account of, either in sacred or profane history.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 2:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/matthew-2.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Wise Men Worship Christ.


      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.   10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.   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.   12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

      We have here the wise men's humble attendance upon this new-born King of the Jews, and the honours they paid him. From Jerusalem they went to Bethlehem, resolving to seek till they should find; but it is very strange that they went alone; that not one person of the court, church, or city, should accompany them, if not in conscience, yet in civility to them, or touched with a curiosity to see this young prince. As the queen of the south, so the wise men of the east, will rise up in judgment against the men of that generation, and of this too, and will condemn them; for they came from a far country, to worship Christ; while the Jews, his kinsmen, would not stir a step, would not go to the next town to bid him welcome. It might have been a discouragement to these wise men to find him whom they sought thus neglected at home. Are we come so far to honour the King of the Jews, and do the Jews themselves put such a slight upon him and us? Yet they persist in their resolution. Note, We must continue our attendance upon Christ, though we be alone in it; whatever others do, we must serve the Lord; if they will not go to heaven with us, yet we must not go to hell with them. Now,

      I. See how they found out Christ by the same star that they had seen in their own country, Matthew 2:9; Matthew 2:10. Observe, 1. How graciously God directed them. By the first appearance of the star they were given to understand where they might enquire for this King, and then it disappeared, and they were left to take the usual methods for such an enquiry. Note, Extraordinary helps are not to be expected where ordinary means are to be had. Well, they had traced the matter as far as they could; they were upon their journey to Bethlehem, but that is a populous town, where shall they find him when they come thither? Here they were at a loss, at their wit's end, but not at their faith's end; they believed that God, who had brought them thither by his word, would not leave them there; nor did he; for, behold, the star which they saw in the east went before them. Note, If we go on as far as we can in the way of duty, God will direct and enable us to do that which of ourselves we cannot do; Up, and be doing, and the Lord will be with thee. Vigilantibus, non dormientibus, succurit lex--The law affords its aid, not to the idle, but to the active. The star had left them a great while, yet now returns. They who follow God in the dark shall find that light is sown, is reserved, for them. Israel was led by a pillar of fire to the promised land, the wise men by a star to the promised Seed, who is himself the bright and morning Star,Revelation 22:16. God would rather create a new thing than leave those at a loss who diligently and faithfully sought him. This star was the token of God's presence with them; for he is light, and goes before his people as their Guide. Note, If we by faith eye God in all our ways, we may see ourselves under his conduct; he guides with his eye (Psalms 32:8), and said to them, This is the way, walk in it: and there is a day-star that arises in the hearts of those that enquire after Christ, 2 Peter 1:19. 2. Observe how joyfully they followed God's direction (Matthew 2:10; Matthew 2:10). When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Now they saw they were not deceived, and had not taken this long journey in vain. When the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Now they were sure that God was with them, and the tokens of his presence and favour cannot but fill with joy unspeakable the souls of those that know how to value them. Now they could laugh at the Jews in Jerusalem, who, probably, had laughed at them as coming on a fool's errand. The watchmen can give the spouse no tidings of her beloved; yet it is but a little that she passes from them, and she finds him,Song of Solomon 3:3; Song of Solomon 3:4. We cannot expect too little from man, nor too much from God. What a transport of joy these wise men were in upon this sight of the star; none know so well as those who, after a long and melancholy night of temptation and desertion, under the power of a Spirit of bondage, at length receive the spirit of adoption, witnessing with their spirits that they are the children of God; this is light out of darkness; it is life from the dead. Now they had reason to hope for a sight of the Lord's Christ speedily, of the Sun of righteousness, for they see the Morning Star. Note, We should be glad of every thing that will show us the way to Christ. This star was sent to meet the wise men, and to conduct them into the presence chamber of the King; by this master of ceremonies they were introduced, to have their audience. Now God fulfills his promise of meeting those that are disposed to rejoice and work righteousness (Isaiah 64:5), and they fulfill his precept. Let the hearts of those rejoice that seek the Lord,Psalms 105:3. Note, God is pleased sometimes to favour young converts with such tokens of his love as are very encouraging to them, in reference to the difficulties they meet with at their setting out of the ways of God.

      II. See how they made their address to him when they had found him, Matthew 2:11; Matthew 2:11. We may well imagine their expectations were raised to find this royal babe, though slighted by the nation, yet honourably attended at home; and what a disappointment it was to them when they found a cottage was his palace, and his own poor mother all the retinue he had! Is this the Saviour of the world? Is this the King of the Jews, nay, and the Prince of the kings of the earth? Yes, this is he, who, though he was rich, yet, for our sakes, became thus poor. However, these wise men were so wise as to see through this veil, and in this despised babe to discern the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father; they did not think themselves balked or baffled in their enquiry; but, as having found the King they sought, they presented themselves first, and then their gifts, to him.

      1. They presented themselves to him: they fell down, and worshipped him. We do not read that they gave such honour to Herod, though he was in the height of his royal grandeur; but to this babe they gave this honour, not only as to a king (then they would have done the same to Herod), but as to a God. Note, All that have found Christ fall down before him; they adore him, and submit themselves to him. He is thy Lord, and worship thou him. It will be the wisdom of the wisest of men, and by this it will appear they know Christ, and understand themselves and their true interests, if they be humble, faithful worshippers of the Lord Jesus.

      2. They presented their gifts to him. In the eastern nations, when they did homage to their kings, they made them presents; thus the subjection of the kings of Sheba to Christ is spoken of (Psalms 72:10), They shall bring presents, and offer gifts. See Isaiah 60:6. Note, With ourselves, we must give up all that we have to Jesus Christ; and if we be sincere in the surrender of ourselves to him, we shall not be unwilling to part with what is dearest to us, and most valuable, to him and for him; nor are our gifts accepted, unless we first present ourselves to him living sacrifices. God had respect to Abel, and then to his offering. The gifts they presented were, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, money, and money's-worth. Providence sent this for a seasonable relief to Joseph and Mary in their present poor condition. These were the products of their own country; what God favours us with, we must honour him with. Some think there was a significancy in their gifts; they offered him gold, as a king, paying him tribute, to Cæsar, the things that are Cæsar's; frankincense, as God, for they honoured God with the smoke of incense; and myrrh, as a Man that should die, for myrrh was used in embalming dead bodies.

      III. See how they left him when they had made their address to him, Matthew 2:12; Matthew 2:12. Herod appointed them to bring him word what discoveries they had made, and, it is probable, they would have done so, if they had not been countermanded, not suspecting their being thus made his tools in a wicked design. Those that mean honestly and well themselves are easily made to believe that others do so too, and cannot think the world is as bad as it really is; but the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation. We do not find that the wise men promised to come back to Herod, and, if they had, it must have been with the usual proviso, If God permit; God did not permit them, and prevented the mischief Herod designed to the Child Jesus, and the trouble it would have been to the wise men to have been made involuntarily accessory to it. They were warned of God, chrematisthentes--oraculo vel responso accepto--by an oracular intimation. Some think it intimates that they asked counsel of God, and that this was the answer. Note, Those that act cautiously, and are afraid of sin and snares, if they apply themselves to God for direction, may expect to be led in the right way. They were warned not to return to Herod, nor to Jerusalem; those were unworthy to have reports brought them concerning Christ, that might have seen with their own eyes, and would not. They departed into their own country another way, to bring the tidings to their countrymen; but it is strange that we never hear any more of them, and that they or theirs did not afterwards attend him in the temple, whom they had worshipped in the cradle. However, the direction they had from God in their return would be a further confirmation of their faith in this Child, as the Lord from heaven.

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Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Matthew 2:12". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/matthew-2.html. 1706.