Matthew 2 Commentary


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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Charles Swindoll

THE LIFE OF JESUS AS COVERED
BY MATTHEW (shaded area)


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Matthew 2:1  Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,

NET After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem

GNT Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ γεννηθέντος ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἐν ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου τοῦ βασιλέως, ἰδοὺ μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα

NLT Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,

KJV   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,

ESV Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,

NIV  After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem

  • "Fourth year before the account called Anno Domini."
  • Jesus - Mt 1:25 Lu 2:4-7 
  • Bethlehem of Judea - Mt 2:5 Mic 5:2 Lu 2:11,15 Joh 7:42 
  • Herod - Herod the Great. Mt 2:3,19 Ge 49:10 Da 9:24,25 Hag 2:6-9 
  • from - Ge 10:30 25:6 1Ki 4:30 Job 1:3 Ps 72:9-12 Isa 11:10 60:1-22 

Jesus' Birth & Flight to Egypt
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(ESV Global Study Bible)

WISE MEN STILL
SEEK MESSIAH

Then and now the truly wise man or woman seeks for Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior of the World.

Luke gives us more details of the birth of Jesus (keeping in mind that this account in Matthew may be up to 2 years after the actual birth event - see below)

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Lu 2:4-7+)

J C Ryle speaks of the cost of the magi to seek Jesus - The conduct of the wise men described in this chapter is a splendid example of spiritual diligence. What trouble it must have cost them to travel from their homes to the house where Jesus was born! How many weary miles they must have journeyed! The fatigues of an Eastern traveller are far greater than we in England can at all understand. The time that such a journey would occupy must necessarily have been very great. The dangers to be encountered were neither few nor small. But none of these things moved them. They had set their hearts on seeing Him “that was born King of the Jews;” and they never rested till they saw Him. They prove to us the truth of the old saying, “Where there is a will there is a way.”
It would be well for all professing Christians if they were more ready to follow the wise men’s example. Where is our self-denial? What pains do we take about our souls? What diligence do we show about following Christ? What does our religion cost us? These are serious questions. They deserve serious consideration

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea - Note the expression of time after. The question is how long after Jesus was born? If we compare Matthew 2:1 with Matthew 2:7 and Matthew 2:16 this suggests that that the wise men evidently arrived around two years after the birth of Jesus. Why else would Herod kill all the male infants two years or younger? See additional support for this interpretation in notes on Matthew 2:11.

A T Robertson - Matthew does not propose to give biographic details of the supernatural birth of Jesus, wonderful as it was and disbelieved as it is by some today who actually deny that Jesus was born at all or ever lived, men who talk of the Jesus Myth, the Christ Myth, etc. “The main purpose is to show the reception given by the world to the new-born Messianic King. Homage from afar, hostility at home; foreshadowing the fortunes of the new faith: reception by the Gentiles, rejection by the Jews” (Bruce).

Robertson on Bethlehem - There was a Bethlehem in Galilee seven miles northwest of Nazareth (Josephus, Antiquities XIX. 15). This Bethlehem (house of bread, the name means) of Judah was the scene of Ruth’s life with Boaz (Ruth 1:1f.; Matt. 1:5) and the home of David, descendant of Ruth and ancestor of Jesus (Matt. 1:5). David was born here and anointed king by Samuel (1 Sam. 17:12). The town came to be called the city of David (Luke 2:11). Jesus, who was born in this House of Bread called himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the true Manna from heaven. Matthew assumes the knowledge of the details of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem which are given in Luke 2:1–7 or did not consider them germane to his purpose. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem from Nazareth because it was the original family home for both of them. The first enrollment by the Emperor Augustus as the papyri show was by families (κατʼ οἰκιαν [kat’ oikian]). Possibly Joseph had delayed the journey for some reason till now it approached the time for the birth of the child.

Related Resources: 

In the days of Herod the king -  The Herod mentioned here (Mt 2:1, 3, 7, 12, 13, 16, 19, 22) and Lk 1:5+ is known to history as Herod the Great, because of all the great works of building he accomplished, but in reality he was "Herod the Paranoid!" He ruled Palestine from 37 B.C. until he died in 4 B.C. His family was nominally Jewish but actually Idumaean (Edomite, Ge 36:1). He was known for his extensive building projects (including the temple in Jerusalem) and for his cruelty. (See Herod’s Temple in the Time of Jesus and Temple Complex in the Time of Jesus). The Romans had appointed his grandfather, Antipas (died 78 B.C.) governor of Idumaea, and Julius Caesar had made his father, Antipater, procurator of Judea (47 - 43 B.C.). The Roman triumvir, Mark Antony, appointed Herod the Great tetrarch of Galilee in 37 B.C. He greatly increased the splendor of Jerusalem, erecting the Temple, which was the center of Jewish worship in the time of our Lord.

Robertson on in the days of Herod - This is the only date for the birth of Christ given by Matthew. Luke gives a more precise date in his Gospel (2:1–3), the time of the first enrollment by Augustus and while Cyrenius was ruler of Syria. More will be said of Luke’s date when we come to his Gospel. We know from Matthew that Jesus was born while Herod was king, the Herod sometimes called Herod the Great. Josephus makes it plain that Herod died B.C. 4. He was first Governor of Galilee, but had been king of Judaea since B.C. 40 (by Antony and Octavius). I call him “Herod the Great Pervert” in Some Minor Characters in the New Testament. He was great in sin and in cruelty and had won the favour of the Emperor. The story in Josephus is a tragedy. It is not made plain by Matthew how long before the death of Herod Jesus was born. Our traditional date A.D. 1, is certainly wrong as Matthew shows. It seems plain that the birth of Jesus cannot be put later than B.C. 5. The data supplied by Luke probably call for B.C. 6 or 7.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum on Herod the Great -  He was a very clever, ruthless ruler who was constantly on the watch for insurrection and intrigue. His life reads like the worst kind of soap opera of villainy and murder. He became so evil that he killed three or possibly four of his sons, and his favorite wife Miriamne. He had ten wives, and offspring who were constantly conspiring against each other. He was so paranoid that he built incredibly elaborate fortresses in a planned escape route in a line towards Egypt, which included Masada (which he fortified in the 30’s B.C.). He was an Idumean, a race forcibly converted to Judaism earlier in history, and while he practiced Judaism (not eating pork) he was not ethnically Jewish. This is one reason the Jewish people hated him.

Barton on Herod the Great (what a sad misuse of the word "great"!) - Herod had expanded and beautified the Jerusalem temple, but he had placed a Roman eagle (picture) over the entrance and also had built pagan temples. When he helped the Jews, it was for political purposes and not because he cared about them or their God. Evil and ruthless, Herod the Great later ordered a massacre of infants (Mt 1:16-18) in a futile attempt to kill the infant Jesus, whom some were calling the new "king of the Jews" (Mt 2:1-2). Herod the Great ruled from 37 to 4 b.c. (Life Application Bible Commentary – Luke)

Related Resources:

BEHOLD - Again the NASB and NET both omit the important demonstrative particle (idou) which means “Lo and behold!”, serving to call attention to something external or exterior to oneself. Behold (2400) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!" In 2Cor 5:17 Paul uses idou, to get his reader's attention as he introduces the truth that the one who in now in Christ is a qualitatively new person. (see also notes above on "behold") Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!" Behold is used by Matthew 62 times. 

(Behold) Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem - From the east is the picture "from the rising of the sun" in this case to the east of Israel, the "orient", the direction east; the part of the horizon where the sun first appears. I see a slight play on words here for men coming from the rising sun were coming to see the newborn Son! Luke makes no mention of the magi. Notice first that they are magi or wise men, not kings. The magi had in some way (NOT SPECIFIED) been made aware of this divine birth and had come seeking the KING OF THE JEWS. Notice also that in Mt 2:2 they asked "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?" but Herod did not know as we see in Mt 2:4 for he himself gathered "together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born." Apparently, the magi were ignorant of the prophecy in Micah 5:2 as was Herod. Fruchtenbaum agrees noting that "The Magi come to Jerusalem, since they did not have the book of Micah which predicts where Messiah was to be born (Micah 5:2). They would have assumed that the Messiah would be born in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem." So how did the magi find their way to the King of the Jews? Mt 2:10-11 tell us "they saw the star (HIS STAR)...and they came into the house and saw the Child." 

Many writers seek to locate where the magi were from and how many there were, but the Bible is silent on both accounts. The beautiful worshipful hymn We Three Kings of Orient has led many to believe there were 3 magi, but that is not absolutely certain. They probably base this presumption on the fact that Matthew mentions 3 gifts. Here is what we can say with certainty -- They were men. The were directed. They came. They acknowledged. They worshipped. And this is what every "wise" man (and woman) should do while today is still called today (cf Jn 9:4). 

Magi (wise men)(3097)(magos) is derived from the Persian word magus meaning "great" (thus "great, powerful men") and in the plural ("magi") as in Mt 2:1, 7, 16, magi referred to the high priestly caste Persians (also Medes and Babylonians) who are affectionately called the "wise men." The other sense of magos is that of a magician or sorcerer, one who used magic crafts or "witchcraft." BDAG adds that magos referred to "a Persian and then also Babylonian wise man and priest, who was expert in astrology, interpretation of dreams and various other occult arts (Herodutus, Josephus 20.142).  The Septuagint uses magos in Daniel 2:2 when King Nebuchadnezzar desired to know the meaning of his dream and called "the magicians (epaoidos - one that uses charms or incantations), the conjurers (magos), the sorcerers (pharmakos)."

East (395) see note below on anatole

John MacArthur adds that the magi "were well-versed in astronomy and astrology, agriculture, mathematics, and history. They were involved in various occult practices and were famous for their ability to interpret dreams (cf. Da. 2:1ff.). Such was their political power and influence that no Persian ruler came to power without their approval....(and in his note on the use in Matthew adds) The magi from the east (the word literally means “from the rising” of the sun, and refers to the orient) who came to see Jesus were of a completely different sort. Not only were they true magi, but they surely had been strongly influenced by Judaism, quite possibly even by some of the prophetic writings, especially that of Daniel. They appear to be among the many God-fearing Gentiles who lived at the time of Christ, a number of whom—such as Cornelius and Lydia (Acts 10:1–2; Acts 16:14)—are mentioned in the New Testament. (For more on magi sermon Matthew 2:1: Who Were the Wise Men?)

J C Ryle on the magi - Whether they were Chaldeans or Arabians we cannot say. Whether they learned to expect Christ from the ten tribes who went into captivity, or from the prophecies of Daniel, we do not know. These verses show us, that there may be true servants of God in places where we should not expect to find them. The Lord Jesus has many “hidden ones” like these wise men. Their history on earth may be as little known as that of Melchizedek, and Jethro, and Job. But their names are in the book of life, and they will be found with Christ in the day of His appearing. 

Guzik - There was a general expectation of a Messiah or great man from Judea. Not very long after Jesus was born, the Roman historian Seutonius wrote: “There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judea to rule the world.” Tacitus, another Roman historian of the general period, wrote: “There was a firm persuasion … that at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers coming from Judea were to acquire universal empire.” (Cited in Barclay) (Enduring Word Commentary)


John Piper summarizes Mt 2:1-12 noting that "There are at least five truths that Matthew wants us to see in this story about Christ and worship

  1. Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and should be honored as such.
  2. Jesus is to be worshiped not just by Jews, but by all the nations of the world, as represented by the wise men from the east.
  3. God wields the universe to make his Son known and worshiped. This is his great goal in all things—that his Son be known and worshiped.
  4. Jesus is troubling to people who do not want to worship him and brings out opposition for those who do.
  5. Worshiping Jesus means joyfully ascribing authority and dignity to Christ with sacrificial gifts. (We Have Come to Worship Him)

POSB has a list of the "Unusual Events" Surrounding the Birth of Jesus (Humanly speaking unusual yes, but divinely sovereign for sure!):

Jesus Christ, Birth: Jesus’ birth was one of the most convulsive and disturbing events in all history (see Lu. 2:1–24).

  1. There was Mary’s pregnancy—the idea of her being an unwed mother (Mt. 1:18; Lu. 1:26f). Who of that day would ever believe her story? Required was a willingness to be available to God regardless of embarrassment and the opinions of family, friends, and neighbors.
  2. There was Joseph’s discovery of Mary’s pregnancy (Mt. 1:19). The shock of Mary’s apparent broken trust and of personal embarrassment were more than Joseph could bear (Mt. 1:20). Required was a willingness to forget self completely.
  3. There was the child, the Son of God Himself, being born in a smelly manger (Mt. 1:25; Lu. 2:1f). Required was a willingness to be humble.
  4. There was the family’s having to be uprooted and moved to a foreign nation, Egypt (Mt. 2:13f). Required was a willingness to obey at any cost.
  5. There was the slaughter of all children under two years of age (Mt. 2:16f). The heavy weight of feeling some responsibility was bound to attack Joseph and Mary. Required was a willingness on their part to bear anything.
  6. There was the visit of the wise men showing that the foreign relationships of nations were affected (Mt. 2:1f). Required was a willingness to bear the pressure of responsibility and the demands of being in the limelight.
  7. There was the uproar of Herod’s household traumatically affecting the lives of both Joseph and Mary (Mt. 2:7–8, 15–16, 22). Required was a willingness to stand against all odds. (Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible)

John Butler - Sermon Starters - Volume 7 - The Birth of Christ

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

The birth of Christ was a momentous event, yet the world by and large was unaware of the fact. Today the world is more aware of the event, but it does not seem interested in honoring the event. We note three important things about the birth of Christ.

FIRST—THE PLACE OF HIS BIRTH

"Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea." The birth of Christ came about just as it was predicted in Micah 5:2. It did not look like that would happen, for Mary was in Nazareth and that was not Bethlehem. But God moved the greatest power on the earth, the Roman government, to prescribe action (Luke 2) that would get Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of Christ. When God predicts, He will move heaven and earth if necessary to fulfill the prediction. Micah predicted the birth of Christ some 700 years before it happened. This would give the critics plenty of time to scoff at the prediction. The Bible also predicts the second coming of Christ. It has been many years since the prediction was first made, but you can count on it being fulfilled. Scoffers abound about the second coming, as they did about the first coming, but as Vance Havner said, when you see a scoffer you have just seen another sign of His coming (I Peter 3:3).

SECOND—THE PRINCE AT HIS BIRTH

"In the days of Herod the king." God could have picked any other time for the birth of Christ, and it would have been a better time. Herod was a vile, bloody king and did not hesitate to try and kill Christ by his decree to kill all the babies two years old and younger in the Bethlehem area (Matthew 2). God seems to delight to do His greatest works when the opposition is the greatest. This should encourage all of us, for sometimes it seems like all is against us and that God cannot help us as things are just too bad. Don't give up when in those situations, remember that Christ was born in the days of Herod. If Christ could be born during Herod's days and survive, God can deliver us regardless of how dire our situation is.

THIRD—THE PIETY BECAUSE OF HIS BIRTH

"Behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem." When Christ was born, some special people came to worship Him. We note two important things about this piety.

• The wisdom of worship. "Wise men." The word translated "wise men" could also be translated "magician" or even "scientist." But the meaning involves wisdom, hence "wise men." People who worship Christ are wise indeed.
• The way of worship. "From the east to Jerusalem." A great effort was put out to worship Christ. Worship is not necessarily convenient. It can cost much effort and expense. However it is worth i

Matthew 2:2  "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."

NET   saying, "Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

GNT  λέγοντες, Ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ.

NLT  Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him."

KJV  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.

ESV   saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

NIV  and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

  • born - Mt 21:5 Ps 2:6 Isa 9:6,7 Isa 32:1,2 Jer 23:5 Zec 9:9 Lu 2:11 19:38 Lu 23:3,38 Joh 1:49 12:13 18:37 19:12-15,19 
  • His - Nu 24:17 Isa 60:3 Lu 1:78,79 Rev 22:16 
  • worship - Mt 2:10,11 Ps 45:11  Joh 5:23 9:38 20:28 Heb 1:6 

THE PURPOSE OF
THE MAGI - WORSHIP!

Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? - This is the essence of the story - Jesus is to be the King of the Jews. In Mt 2:4 the King of the Jews is equated with the Messiah! Jesus did not assume His throne in His first advent, but rest assured He will be the King of the Jews in His Second Coming for He will return as King of kings (Rev 19:16+), set up His Messianic Kingdom and reign from His throne in Jerusalem. Imagine the threat that such a question posed to Herod the Great, for he considered himself "King of the Jews." (cf "Herod the king" in Mt 2:3) No wonder Herod was "troubled" (Matthew 2:3). 

Notice that for the magi to even ask this question about the King of the Jews clearly indicates that they had divine revelation from some source. They simply could not have known this of their own accord. What was the source? We cannot be certain. There are a number of prophecies that allude to Messiah as King and considering that Daniel was captive in Babylon (in the east), and wrote his prophecies while in Babylon, and Da 2:4-7:28 were in Aramaic, the common language of the land (cf Da 12:4+), it is certainly possible that the magi had access to his prophecies which would have included predictions of a great King such as the ones below:

I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man (THE MESSIAH) was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days (GOD THE FATHER) And was presented before Him. “And to Him (THE MESSIAH) was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom (CLEARLY INDICATING HE WOULD BE THE KING OVER THIS KINGDOM), That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed. (Da 7:13-14+)

‘Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’  (Da 7:27+)

Arnold Fruchtenbaum makes an interesting comment -  Daniel saved the lives of all the astrologers by correctly interpreting the king’s dream, and many must have become believers in Daniel’s God through this. No doubt many of these men turned from worshipping the stars to worshipping the Creator of the stars. So this body of “wise men” most likely had Daniel’s writings from which to determine the time of Messiah’s coming.  As to the knowledge of the star being the herald, they also may have had the book of Numbers. Read Numbers 24:17. Why may they have had this book? There is another Babylonian connection here. Balaam was a Babylonian astrologer (Deuteronomy 23:4 “Balaam son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia- that is on the banks of the Euphrates river in Babylonia). He was probably from the Babylonian School of Astrology.

In addition there are other OT prophecies which speak of Messiah as King:

Psalm 2:6  “But as for Me (GOD THE FATHER), I have installed My KING (GOD THE SON, MESSIAH) Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

Psalm 48:1-2 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, In the city of our God, His holy mountain.  2 Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the great KING

Psalm 110:1-2 A Psalm of David. The LORD (GOD THE FATHER) says to my Lord (GOD THE SON, MESSIAH): “Sit at My right hand Until I make Your (MESSIAH'S) enemies a footstool for Your feet.”  2 The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion (A KING POSSESSES A SCEPTER), saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” 

Isaiah 9:6; 7+  For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom (JESUS THE KING), To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

Isaiah 32:1; 2 Behold, a KING (MESSIAH) will reign righteously And princes will rule justly. 2 Each will be like a refuge from the wind And a shelter from the storm, Like streams of water in a dry country, Like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land. 

Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as KING and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. 

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your KING is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 

Comment - Note that Matthew quotes this passage in Mt 21:4-5 (This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:  5 “SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.’”) as fulfilled by Jesus as He entered Jerusalem riding a colt down the Mount of Olives (Lk 19:37+) to begin His "Passion Week" - "The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting (Ps 118:26), “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” " (Mt 21:9). Luke has the crowd "shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38+)

Notice...

(1) Matthew omits part of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 = "He is just and endowed with salvation." (Mt 21:5) 

(2) Matthew quotes Psalm 118:26 "BLESSED IS HE..." while Luke quotes it "BLESSED IS THE KING...."

But only a few days later the Jews denied Jesus was their KING and "cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your KING?” The chief priests answered, “We have no KING, but Caesar.” " (Jn 19:15)

Can you see the tragic irony - At the beginning of His life on earth, the Gentiles (magi) acclaimed Jesus as KING of the Jews, whereas at the end of His life, the Jews denied He was their KING

Spurgeon observes that "A stir begins as soon as Christ is born. He has not spoken a word; he has not wrought a miracle; he has not proclaimed a single doctrine; but ‘when Jesus was born,’ at the very first, while as yet you hear nothing but infant cries, and can see nothing but infant weakness, still his influence upon the world is manifest. ‘When Jesus was born (PROBABLY NOT IMMEDIATELY AFTER HIS BIRTH AS EXPLAINED ABOVE), there came wise men from the east,’ and so on. There is infinite power even in an infant Savior.” 

For (gar) - Term of explanation. The magi explain to Herod why they have come to see the King of the Jews. Can't you just imagine Herod's jaw drop when they tell him how they were led to come! A star! And not just any star, but they refer to it as "HIS star." Now if their mention of a King did not get Herod's attention, imagine Herod's reaction when he finds out this King has His Own STAR! In a sense, the magi actually have good theology, for we know it was the preincarnate Jesus Who created that STAR (Heb 1:2+, Col 1:16+, Neh 9:6)! So in that sense it is "His star." (Dt 10:14) Oh, how mysterious is this truth. 

John Piper writing on God's power in all the events surrounding His Son's incarnation points out that "Luke shows God influencing the entire Roman Empire so that the census comes at the exact time to get a virgin to Bethlehem to fulfil prophecy with her delivery. Matthew shows God influencing the stars in the sky to get foreign magi to Bethlehem so that they can worship him."

We saw His star in the east -  The identity of HIS STAR is subject of much speculation as discussed below. The point of the STAR guiding the magi is that God is in some way exerting supernatural power to bring about the result that He desires, in this case the worship of His Son by these Gentile magi. Don't miss this because you are "star gazing" so to speak. Focus on the real "Star" of the story, Jesus Christ! East is anatole which is used in Mt 2:1 (magi from the east) and is also used Luke's account of Jesus' birth when John the Baptist's "father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied" (Lk. 1:67+) a prophecy which included the following description of Jesus "Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise (anatole) from on high will visit us (REFERRING TO THE BIRTH OF JESUS)." (Lk. 1:78+)

NET Note on His star - Some have argued that it was a comet, but these are frequent and would hardly be associated with Israel or the Messiah. Most modern evangelicals probably take it as a special supernatural light that guided the wise men from Persia to Jerusalem. This theory, however, does not explain why they followed it at all; there was little reason to connect a sudden, slow-moving light in the sky with the promised Jewish king. The magi, expert astronomers as they were, would hardly call such a light a star. The magi may have been familiar with Scriptures such as Ge 3:15, Nu 24:17 (promised "Star out of Jacob"), Isa 7:14 (promised "God with us").

ED: BUT NONE OF THESE PASSAGES PROPHESY OF A STAR THAT WOULD GUIDE ONE TO THE KING OF THE JEWS. EVEN IF IT WERE A "SUPERNATURAL PHENOMENON," WHICH IS VERY POSSIBLE, HOW WOULD THE MAGI HAVE KNOWN TO FOLLOW IT UNLESS THEY HAD SPECIFICALLY BEEN GIVEN SUPERNATURAL INSTRUCTION? I PERSONALLY THINK WE MUST WAIT UNTIL HEAVEN TO LEARN ABOUT "HIS STAR.")

What was the star of Bethlehem? - (ED: NOTE THAT THE BIBLE NEVER CALLS IT THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM, BUT DOES CALL IT "HIS STAR") (Excerpt) - The star of Bethlehem is associated with the birth of Christ and the visit of the magi (wise men) as recorded in Matthew 2:1–12. The text implies the star of Bethlehem appeared only to the magi in the East (most likely the area of Persia, or modern-day Iran). There is no biblical record of anyone else observing the star of Bethlehem. The magi in the East saw something in the heavens—the star of Bethlehem—that alerted them to the fact that the Jewish Messiah was born. The magi do not call the star of Bethlehem by that name; in Matthew 2:2 they refer to it as being “HIS STAR” since it was a sign to them that a king was born. The star prompted the magi to travel to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. This would be the logical place to start looking for the birth of the King of the Jews for someone who did not know of Micah’s prophecy about Bethlehem. (click full article - What was the star of Bethlehem?)

John Piper has a good exhortation regarding the natural human tendency to want to try to explain the nature of the STAR - The answer is: We do not know. There are numerous efforts to explain it in terms of conjunctions of planets or comets or supernovas or miraculous lights. We just don’t know. And I want to exhort you not to become preoccupied with developing theories that are only tentative in the end and have very little spiritual significance. I risk a generalization to warn you: people who are exercised and preoccupied with such things as how the star worked and how the Red Sea split and how the manna fell and how Jonah survived the fish and how the moon turns to blood are generally people who have what I call a mentality for the marginal. You do not see in them a deep cherishing of the great central things of the gospel—the holiness of God, the ugliness of sin, the helplessness of man, the death of Christ, justification by faith alone, the sanctifying work of the Spirit, the glory of Christ’s return and the final judgment. They always seem to be taking you down a sidetrack with a new article or new tape or book.(We Have Come to Worship Him)

East (395)(anatole from anatello = to rise -  ana = up, again + tello = to make to rise) means rising (as of a star or the sun). In some context anatole refers to the rising of the sun or "breaking of the dawn" which means East or Orient (used with this meaning especially in the Lxx - Ge 2:8, 10:30, 11:2, 12:8;  used of the Magi from the east who saw the star in the east - Mt 2:1, 2, 9, those who come into God's kingdom will be from "east and west" = Mt 8:11, Lk 13:29, "lightning comes from the east" = Mt 24:27). Here Luke is using anatole to refer to the coming of Christ. John uses anatole to describe the "angel ascending from the rising of the sun." (Rev 7:2), to describe "kings from the east" as they assemble at Armageddon (Rev 16:12), and lastly to describe the "three gates on the east" of the holy city of Jerusalem that will come down out of heaven from God (Rev 21:13). Anatole - east(7), east*(1), rising(1), Sunrise(1). 10v - Matt. 2:1; Matt. 2:2; Matt. 2:9; Matt. 8:11; Matt. 24:27; Lk. 1:78; Lk. 13:29; Rev. 7:2; Rev. 16:12; Rev. 21:13

Related Resource: 

And have come to worship Him -  They had come to bow down in adoration & reverence to the King of kings. How is it that these Gentiles recognized what His own people refused to accept (Jn 1:11+, Mt 27:37)?

Worship (bow down) (4352)(proskuneo from pros = before + kuneo = kiss or adore) means to prostrate one’s self, to kiss the hand to (towards) one in token of reverence, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence (to make a salam), by kneeling or prostration to do homage to one or make obeisance, either in order to express respect or make supplication. When Jesus Christ was born into this world, He was attended and worshipped by angels. (Lu 2:13f+). Proskuneo represents the most common Near Eastern act of adoration and reverence and also carries the idea of profound awe and respect. Some believe that the root word kuneo may be related to kuon which is the Greek word for dog and which then could be picturing a dog licking his master's hand. Proskuneo literally means to kiss toward someone, to throw a kiss in token of respect or homage, to prostrate oneself in homage, to do reverence to, to adore and so to worship and show respect. In the ancient Oriental (especially Persia) the mode of salutation between persons of equal rank was to kiss each other on the lips. When the difference of rank was slight, they kissed each other on the cheek. When one was much inferior, he fell upon his knees touched his forehead to the ground or prostrated himself, and as he was bowing down he would be throwing kisses toward the superior. It is this latter mode of salutation that is intended by the Greek writers in the use of the verb proskuneo . Matthew's uses of proskuneo - Matt. 2:2; Matt. 2:8; Matt. 2:11; Matt. 4:9; Matt. 4:10; Matt. 8:2; Matt. 9:18; Matt. 14:33; Matt. 15:25; Matt. 18:26; Matt. 20:20; Matt. 28:9; Matt. 28:17

THOUGHT - And this should be our ultimate purpose in life even as we serve Him, doing so with an attitude of worship. And one cannot miss the striking contrast that while Gentile magi adore Jim as the King of the Jews, and the king of the Jews attempts to murder Him! It is interesting that Matthew gives few details surrounding the actual birth of Jesus but says more about what happened after His birth in Bethlehem. 


J C Ryle speaks of the amazing faith of the magi -  The conduct of the wise men is a striking example of faith (ED: HOWEVER AS ALLUDED TO ABOVE, THE MAGI MUST HAVE HAD SOME SPECIAL REVELATION ON WHICH TO BASE THEIR FAITH FOR AS PAUL TEACHES "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Ro 10:17+). They believed in Christ when they had never seen Him;—but that was not all. They believed in Him when the Scribes and Pharisees were unbelieving;—but that again was not all. They believed in Him when they saw Him a little infant on Mary’s knee, and worshipped Him as a King. This was the crowning point of their faith.—They saw no miracles to convince them. They heard no teaching to persuade them (ED: HERE I WOULD SLIGHTLY DISAGREE. SOMEHOW THE MAGI HAD RECEIVED SPECIAL REVELATION THAT HE WOULD BE KING OF THE JEWS). They beheld no signs of divinity and greatness to overawe them. They saw nothing but a newborn infant, helpless and weak, and needing a mother’s care like any one of ourselves. And yet when they saw that infant, they believed that they saw the divine Saviour of the world. “They fell down and worshipped Him.” It is a faith that deserves to be placed side by side with that of the penitent thief. The thief saw one dying the death of a malefactor, and yet prayed to Him, and “called Him Lord.” (cf Lk 23:39-43+) The wise men saw a new-born babe on the lap of a poor woman (Mt 2:11), and yet worshipped Him and confessed that He was Christ (ED: THE TEXT DOES NOT SAY THEY ACTUALLY CONFESSED HIM AS CHRIST BUT THAT WOULD BE A REASONABLE ASSUMPTION). Blessed indeed are those that can believe in this fashion! (cf Jn 20:28) This is the kind of faith, let us remember, that God delights to honor. Wherever the Bible is read the conduct of these wise men is known, and told as a memorial of them. Let us walk in the steps of their faith. Let us not be ashamed to believe in Jesus and confess Him, though all around us remain careless and unbelieving. Have we not a thousand-fold more evidence than the wise men had, to make us believe that Jesus is the Christ? Beyond doubt we have. Yet where is our faith? (All Ryle's Expository Comments on the Gospels on one page)


John Butler - Sermon Starters - Volume 7 - Wise Men See Herod

  • Matthew 2:2  "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).

The wise men had gotten as far as Jerusalem and could go not farther without help. So they went to the logical place for directions, namely, Herod who was the then "king of the Jews." The wise men said three things to Herod, none of which pleased this very wicked man.

FIRST—THE SEEKING

"Where is he that is born king of the Jews?" This question was very revealing. It revealed the dumbness of Herod, and it disclosed the birth of Christ.

Dumbness of Herod. Herod the Great, as he was known in Israel did not know about the most important birth that ever occurred. He is like the king of England who wrote in his diary on the 4th of July 1776, the day of the declaration of Independence, that nothing important happened that day. Little did he know. Ask famous politicians today about Jesus Christ and all they will say will add darkness to the subject. They seldom, if ever, know anything about Christ.
Declaration of Christ's birth. Though born in a lowly manger, yet his birth is announced in the palace and by men of high standing. Christ may be despised and ignored but He is the most important being ever to set foot on this earth!!!

SECOND—THE STAR

"We have seen his star in the east." The wise men came from the east. The star had to be west of them if its purpose was to guide them. What a great privilege these wise men had. But privilege brings responsibility which can be very costly, the the wise men were indeed very responsible in that they came (at great cost and inconvenience) many miles to worship Christ. If you have not received divine privileges lately, or ever, maybe it is because you do not treat privilege with responsibility. Our day wants privilege (they call it 'rights') but they do not want the responsibility that comes with privilege.

THIRD—THE SUBSERVIENCE

"Are come to worship him." There are at least three lessons in this statement of devotion to Christ. They all have to do with the worship by the wise men.

The prudence of worship. "Wise men." The words "wise men" are a translation of the word 'magi' which is applied to various groups, from scientist to magicians and by implication means they were exceptionally wise. And wisdom is found in worshipping Christ. This is not evidenced in football stadiums or other sports arenas which schedule their games at church worship times which keeps many from worship.
The plebian of worship. "Worship him." Worship requires humility, for it is bowing before some one else regardless of your rank.
The Person of worship. "Him." This speaks of Christ's Deity. Only God is to be worshipped (Matthew 4:10; Revelation 19:10; 22:9).


Ian Paisley in his devotional A Text A Day Keeps the Devil Away - 

They Saw His Star

"We have seen his star"
I think that it is right to believe that the wise men were kings in their own right. A star appeared to them in the east. It was certainly the far east for it took them two years to make their journey. The star was worth following for it was to lead them to their king. Though foreigners they were to become His subjects.
They saw His star and watched it!

They Saw His Would—Be Slayers

"When Herod the king had heard these things, be was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him."
Herod was vile, wretched, old in crime and crooked in soul. He decided he would soon wipe the new king off the face of the earth. He reckoned without God. He pretended to show interest in the child so that he too could also worship Him. This was but a rouse, for his mind was made up to slay Him.
They saw Herod and worried him!

They Saw Himself

"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."
If they had kept following the star they would not have been sidetracked to Herod. Now having found the King they fell down and worshipped Him alone (Mary rightfully excluded) and presented gifts—gold, for royalty; frankincense, for sacrifice; myrrh, for burial. They saw Himself and worshipped Him.

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

NET When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him.

GNT  ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης ἐταράχθη καὶ πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ,

NLT   King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.

KJV   When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

ESV   When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;

NIV   When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

  • he - Mt 8:29 23:37 1Ki 18:17,18 Joh 11:47,48 Ac 4:2,24-27 5:24-28 Ac 16:20,21 17:6,7 

When Herod the king heard this - What is this? The question of the magi about another King (Mt 2:2)! Herod the king Herod had been called “king of the Jews” by the Senate in Rome for almost 40 years. Herod the king is also known as "Herod the Great." This designation of "great" is clearly in the eyes of men, but it will carry no weight with God at the Great White Throne judgment for John records "And I saw the dead, the GREAT and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds...And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Rev 20:12,15+)

D A Carson says Herod "was wealthy, politically gifted, intensely loyal, an excellent administrator, and clever enough to remain in the good graces of successive Roman emperors. His famine relief was superb and his building projects (including the temple, begun 20 B.C.) were admired even by his foes. But he loved power, inflicted incredibly heavy taxes on the people, and resented the fact that many Jews considered him a usurper. In his last years, suffering an illness that compounded his paranoia, he turned to cruelty and in fits of rage and jealousy killed close associates.”

Barclay on Herod's evil disposition - “Augustus, the Roman Emperor, had said, bitterly, that it was safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son. (The saying is even more epigrammatic in Greek, for in Greek hus is the word for a pig, and huios is the word for a son).”

He was troubled - NLT = "was deeply disturbed" Just the thought of a rival King of the Jews would have been sufficient information to give him quite a fright. One can almost see him shaking which is the literal meaning of the Greek verb tarasso. This picture recalls another king named Belshazzar, who became frightened by the sudden appearance of a hand writing on the wall (Da 5:5+) and as a result "the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together." (Da 5:6+

Troubled (disturbed) (5015)(tarasso) literally means to shake back and forth, be agitated (like water boiling) and stir up (like the pool in John 5:4,7, Lxx = Isa 51:15 = "stirs up the sea";  Ps 46:2, 3, 6 referring to earth, water, nations; 2Sa 22:8 = of earth shaking). Most of the NT uses of tarasso are figurative and describe the state of one's mind as stirred up, agitated or experiencing inward commotion. The passive voice is always used in the NT with a negative meaning, and refers to an unsettled mind, as here when Herod heard of the birth of the King of the Jews. Tarasso is used in two commands (present imperative with a negative - stop this or do not let it begin) from Jesus to disciples (and applicable to all believers) in Jn 14:1 "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me." and Jn 14:27 "“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." Sometimes we need to hear Jesus say this twice to us also, don't we! 

And all Jerusalem with him - Notice the adjective "ALL" while probably hyperbole is clearly speaking of the majority of the unholy populace of the Holy City! Why would the Holy City be so disturbed by the birth of the Holy One? Probably because they were not living holy lives. Certainly the religious leaders would have been disturbed as this true King of the Jews would threaten their power base and their false "religion" based on rabbinical traditions and not on the Word of Truth, the Bible. 

J C Ryle - These verses teach us, that it is not always those who have most religious privileges, who give Christ most honor. We might have thought that the Scribes and Pharisees would have been the first to hasten to Bethlehem, on the slightest rumor that the Saviour was born. But it was not so. A few unknown strangers from a distant land were the first, except the shepherds mentioned by St. Luke, to rejoice at His birth. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (Jn 1:11) What a mournful picture this is of human nature! How often the same kind of thing may be seen among ourselves! How often the very persons who live nearest to the means of grace are those who neglect them most! There is only too much truth in the old proverb, “The nearer the church the further from God.” Familiarity with sacred things has an awful tendency to make men despise them. There are many, who from residence and convenience ought to be first and foremost in the worship of God, and yet are always last. There are many, who might well be expected to be last, who are always first.


John Butler - Sermon Starters - Volume 7 - Agitation Of Christmas Matthew 2:3 

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

The word "troubled" in our text means to be agitated, agitation as water that is boiling. It is a strong word and shows hostility here.

FIRST—THE MESSAGE THAT TROUBLED

"Heard these things." The message that agitated was at least fourfold.

  • The coming of Christ. The wise men had said Someone important was born. The birth of Christ was not meant with much joy in the world to which He came.
  • The crown for Christ. The wise men had said that Christ was to be the "king of the Jews." (Matthew 2:2). This manifested rank and power for Jesus Christ. Herod especially would not like this.
  • The celebration of Christ. The wise men were going to worship Him. Worship means reverence, respect, deference, honor. It makes the person worshipped very honored especially when the worshippers have come a long distance to worship Him. This would upset Herod.
  • The communicants for Christ. Because the wise men had come a long distance to worship Him, they were obviously very dedicated and devoted to Christ. The world does not adore such people.

SECOND—THE MONARCH THAT WAS TROUBLED

"Herod." Several things about Herod are in the context of this text. No wonder he was troubled at the news of Christ's birth and worship. All of this was contrary to him.

  • His character. He was very deceitful to the wise men, for he pretended to also want to worship Christ, when in fact, he wanted to do away with Christ. History is not kind to Herod. He was jealous, self-serving and proud. While alive he was called 'Herod the Great,' but death changed the 'Great' to 'Guile.' The Bible never calls him 'Great' but it does call John the Baptist and Jesus "Great." (Luke 1). He was ignorant of important spiritual truths, was hypocritical (feigned himself a worshiper of Christ), cruel (as we will note in more detail next), and contemptible.
  • His cruelty. Herod lashed out in and effort to kill the Christchild by killing all the children two years and younger in the Bethlehem vicinity. History verifies his cruelty. At his death he wanted a group of people to be slain so there would be sorrow in the land when he died. He was so cruel he knew people would rejoice at his death so made this horrible decree for sorrow (which was not carried out).

THIRD—THE MUNICIPALITY THAT WAS TROUBLED

"And all Jerusalem with him." A world that calls a Herod 'Great' will not rejoice over the coming of Christ. You would expect Jerusalem, of all places, to rejoice, but it was filled with sin. We give ourselves away by what we rejoice in, criticize and compliment. Evil likes evil, not righteousness. The world despises Christianity.

Matthew 2:4  Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

NET  After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

GNT καὶ συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ ἐπυνθάνετο παρ᾽ αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ Χριστὸς γεννᾶται.

NLT  He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, "Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?"

KJV  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

ESV   and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

NIV  When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

  • the chief priests- Mt 21:15,23 26:3,47 27:1 1Ch 24:4-19 2Ch 36:14 Ezr 10:5 Ne 12:7 Ps 2:2  Joh 7:32 18:3 
  • the chief priests- Mt 7:29 13:52 2Ch 34:13,15 Ezr 7:6,11,12 Jer 8:8 Mk 8:31 Lu 20:19 Lu 23:10 Joh 8:3 Ac 4:5 6:12 23:9 
  • he inquired of them - Mal 2:7 Joh 3:10 

Gathering together all the chief priests : These were the temple hierarchy (the high priest and his associates) and were mostly Sadducees (Mt 3:7).  At this time the high priest was appointed by the Romans. These men preferred the recognition of the political power than the recognition of the One with Power. Imagine how honored these religious leaders would be to be invited by King Herod to give spiritual advice. However is notable that Sadducees and Pharisees (most scribes were pharisees) did not get along, but this was an exceptional case which makes me think of the enemy of my enemy is my friend

John 12:42-43 says "Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God."  (This is a tough one! Were the rulers true believers or were they like those in John 2:23-24+? Compare Paul's teaching in Ro 10:9-10+, Mk 8:34-37, 38, with other passages like Jn 19:38-39, Mk 15:43, Lk 23:50-51 - Certainly  Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea did confess, but were there others?)

Gathering together (4863)(sunago from sun = with + ago = to lead, ) means literally to lead together. To gather (in) or gather (up) It is a bit ironic that this verb gives us the word synagogue the place where Jews gathered to worship. Here they gathered for what would prove to the the antithesis of worship of God, as Herod would seek to kill the King of the Jews on finding out His birthplace.

Chief priests (749)(archiereus from arche = first in a series, the leader or ruler, idea of rank or degree + hiereus = priest - hieros is that which is determined, filled or consecrated by divine power) refers to the priest that was chief over all the other priests in Israel. In the plural archiereus refers to all the ruling priests, the members of the high-priestly families as a group, the upper echelons of the priestly class, especially those who served on the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court (Lk 9:22, Mk 8:31).

And scribes of the people Scribes were primarily Pharisees, authorities who were interpreters of the Jewish law. Sometimes they are referred to as “lawyers” (see Lu 10:25). They were professional scholars, "teachers of the law" so called because it was their office to make copies of the Scriptures, to classify and teach the precepts of the oral law, and to keep careful count of every letter in the O.T. writings.. They knew exactly where the Messiah was to be born (Mt 2:5), but lacked the faith to accompany the magi to actually go to the place where He was. To know about Christ is not enough! One must go to Christ! Many today in America know, but fail to go in repentance and faith and will be sadly shocked in the day of judgment (cf Mt 7:21-23+). 

Scribes (1122)(grammateus from grapho = to write) was one skilled in Jewish law and theology scribe, expert, scholar (Mt 2.4). Grammateus also referred to a chief executive officer of a governmental entity such as a town official secretary, town clerk (Acts 19.35). Jesus gives a long rebuke including 8 WOES primarily to the Scribes and Pharisees which should be read to help understand how this group of Jewish religious men functioned (See Mt 23:1-39, 13, 14, 15, 16, etc). Most sources consider the lawyers (nomikos - meaning one skilled in the Mosaic law) to be scribes specialized in the jurisprudence of the Law of Moses. Finally the scribes in Lk 5:17 (nomdidaskalos) were teachers of the Jewish law who were equal to the lawyers and scribes MacArthur adds that "Not all Pharisees were scribes, but the scribes were primarily Pharisees, who were interpreters and teachers of the law of Moses and the traditional rabbinic writings. Their teaching provided the theological framework for the Pharisees’ legalistic system of works-righteousness. The scribes were the dominant force in Judaism, not only theologically, but socially. Their views affected every aspect of life, and they also handled all legal matters, including property, estates, and contracts. They were revered, and given the respectful title of Rabbi (Mt. 23:7). That title was sometimes given to Jesus because He was a teacher (cf. John 1:38, 49; 3:2, 26; 6:25). It was commonly believed that Moses received the law, then gave it to Joshua, who gave it to the elders, who gave it to the prophets, who gave it to the scribes. (Luke Commentary on Lk 20:46)

He inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born - KJV has demanded (for inquired) which is a poor translation for the word means simply to seek to learn something by asking. Inquired is in the imperfect tense indicating he asked them again and again. Although they obviously eventually did give the right answer, perhaps a number of them did not know the answer. As King he could have demanded but that is not the sense with this verb. Messiah is actually the word usually translated Christ and not the Greek word messias which means Messiah and is used only in John 1:41 and John 4:24. What do we learn from this passage? If we compare it with the question of the magi in Mt 2:2 "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?" it is clear that the King of the Jews is the Messiah! The phrase was to be born is literally "where the Christ is born" which Robertson calls the "prophetic present" which does imply certainty or states with assurance that which is predicted. The idea is that events which are future are pictured as if present. It is worth noting that Herod actually seems to believe the Scriptures, but still seeks to destroy the King of the Jews. He was Satan’s puppet.

Constable adds that "Some of the Jews—particularly the Essenes whom Herod did not consult, but not the Sadducees and Pharisees—were expecting a Messiah to appear soon because of Daniel 9:24–27. Daniel had been a wise man in the East also."

Messiah (literally Christ)(5547)(Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office) describes one who has been anointed with oil, one who has been consecrated. The majority of the NT uses refer to Jesus. Christos describes Jesus as the "Anointed One" the Greek synonym for "Messiah (Anointed One)

Inquired (ask)(4441)(punthanomai means to inquire, ask, seek to learn usually from someone (Mt 2:4; Lk 15:26; 18:36; Jn 4:52; Acts 4:7; 10:18, 29; 21:33; 23:19f. The word carries the sense of asking by inquiry, rather than asking by making a request to receive


Inquiry Of Ignorance

  • Matthew 2:4 "And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born" 

The wise men had asked where this special person was bom and Herod would find out for them in spite of his spiritual ignorance.

FIRST—HIS SYCOPHANTS

"He . . . gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together." Herod had the religious leaders as sycophants. They fawned his person for special favors. Therefore it was no trick for him to gather the religious leaders together to learn where the Christ-child was born. There are always those ministers who are more interested in political clout then they are in spiritual clout. They prefer the recognition of the powers that be to the recognition of the Power that is, namely, God. "They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:43). If they prefer Christ, they will be secret disciples like Joseph of Arimathaea. They equate respect for high office with fawning of high officers (though evil). We could do without this kind. One can easily imagine how honored these religious leaders would be to be invited to give Herod some spiritual advice. In their long and decorative robes they would vie with one another to be the closet to wicked Herod so they could boast about it at the next Sanhedrin meeting.

SECOND—HIS SERIOUSNESS

"Demanded." The translation is a bit strong. It means simply to inquire, to seek information etc. But the tense of the verb gives away the seriousness of Herod. It is in the perfect tense which means Herod continually asked them where Christ would be born. You can see why the translators used "demanded." Herod was a worried man. "King of the Jews" (Matthew 2:2) upset him and he looked at Christ as an usurper. He must know where Christ is to be born so he can take immediate action to stop the Christ-child from taking Herod's prestigious and powerful throne. Herod was very serious in his inquiry. He did not 'demand' as we think of 'demanding' today, but his continual repeating of his request showed his agitation.

THIRD—HIS STUPIDITY

"He demanded of them where Christ should be born." Herod was spiritually a dunce. He did not know the important facts spiritually. He obviously knew how to politic. He curried Rome into making him a very powerful ruler over Israel. But he did not know much spiritually. He would get along well with our politicians today. Be they Republican or Democrat, they all have one thing in common—they know little, if anything about spiritual matters. They know how get elected again and again but they do not know anything much where it really matters. They approve of things the Bible condemns (abortion, homosexualism, gambling, and booze) and do not seem to realize that the solution to the world's problems is being in deference to Christ. (John Butler - Sermon Starters - Volume 7)

Matthew 2:5  They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

NET   "In Bethlehem of Judea," they said, "for it is written this way by the prophet:

GNT  οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας· οὕτως γὰρ γέγραπται διὰ τοῦ προφήτου·

NLT  "In Bethlehem in Judea," they said, "for this is what the prophet wrote:

KJV   And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

ESV  They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

NIV"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:

  • Ge 35:19 Jos 19:15 Ru 1:1,19 2:4 4:11 1Sa 16:1 

BORN IN THE VERY CITY
GOD PREDICTED

They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet - This is interesting. They did not answer, we need to go back to our Scriptural scrolls and check this one out. They seem to know the answer (after Herod had inquired several times - see notes on Mt 2:4). This is sad when religious leaders know the answers but fail to communicate (much less even believe) the truth to those under their tutelage! The priests were to teach the people and they did apparently know the facts but there was a problem ( Ezek 44:23) There is no record of them going to Bethlehem! They know but refuse to go! Wow!

John Walvoord - Matthew adroitly answers Jewish unbelief concerning Jesus Christ by quoting their own official body to the effect that the prophecy of His birth in Bethlehem was literal, that the Messiah was to be an individual, not the entire Jewish nation, and that their Messiah was to be a King who would rule over them. (Matthew - Thy Kingdom Come)

J C Ryle - These verses teach us, that there may be knowledge of Scripture in the head, while there is no grace in the heart. Mark how king Herod sends to inquire of the priests and elders “where Christ should be born.” Mark what a ready answer they return him, and what an acquaintance with the letter of Scripture they show. But they never went to Bethlehem to seek for the coming Saviour. They would not believe in Him, when He ministered among them. Their heads were better than their hearts.—Let us all beware of resting satisfied with head-knowledge. It is an excellent thing, when rightly used. But a man may have much of it, and yet perish everlastingly. What is the state of our hearts? This is the great question. A little grace is better than many gifts. Gifts alone save no one. But grace leads on to glory.

Matthew 2:6 'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'"

NET  'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'"

GNT   Καὶ σὺ Βηθλέεμ, γῆ Ἰούδα, οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα· ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ ἐξελεύσεται ἡγούμενος, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ τὸν λαόν μου τὸν Ἰσραήλ.

NLT  'And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.' "

KJV   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.

ESV  "'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'"

NIV " 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' "

  • YOU, BETHLEHEM - Mt 2:1 Mic 5:2  Joh 7:42 
  • A RULER- Mt 28:18 Ge 49:10 Nu 24:19 1 Chr 5:2 Ps 2:1-6 Isa 9:6,7 Eph 1:22 Col 1:18 Rev 2:27 11:15 
  • WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL -  Ps 78:71,72 Isa 40:11 Jer 23:4-6 Eze 34:23-25 37:24-26 

BETHLEHEM HOUSE OF BREAD
BIRTHPLACE OF BREAD OF LIFE

AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL - This is the first of four fulfilled prophecies in Matthew - (1) Mt 2:6 fulfilled Micah 5:2 (2) Mt 2:15 fulfilled Hosea 11:1 (3) Mt 2:18 fulfilled Jeremiah 31:15 and (4) Mt 2:23 is said to "fulfill what was spoken through the prophets. There is however no specific prophecy or prophecies that can be definitely linked to Matthew 2:23. See discussion below on OT quotes in the NT.

This prophecy, which combines Mic. 5:2 and 2 Sam. 5:2, emphasizes Matthew's conviction that the King who brings the kingdom is a Shepherd-King.


Knowing But Not Going

  • 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."

Herod was not disappointed. His religious sycophants had the answer for Him as to where Christ would be born.

FIRST—THE PLACE IN THE ANSWER

"And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda." The religious leaders that toadied up to Herod knew but did not practice Scripture. They told Herod Christ would be born in Bethlehem, and they quoted Micah 5:2 to confirm their claim.

  • The size. "Least among the princes of Juda." The size of Bethlehem was so small that sometimes it was left off the list of towns of that area (namely Judah). But God does not reject small. Size is not the criteria for service but character is. Bethlehem may be small, but during World War II President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill sat side by side sing on board a ship at a Christmas service singing, "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Take care of your character, God will take care of your calling. Regardless of how obscure you may be. He can make a small Bethlehem into a significant place. The site. "In the land of Juda." This information would identity what Bethlehem was spoken of in Scripture. It would also tell Herod that it was close by his location so he could quickly and cruelly end this opposition to his rule. There was another Bethlehem in the north in Zebulon so Herod needed to know which Bethlehem.

SECOND—THE PRODUCT IN THE ANSWER

"A governor, that shall rule my people Israel." The passage quoted by the religious leaders also said some important truths about the Person who was born in Bethlehem.

  • The position. "Governor." This person born in Bethlehem was called "Governor." This word means the principle ruler, Christ will be "King of kings and Lord of lords." (Revelation 19:16).
  • The purpose. "Shall rule my people Israel." He, not Herod, will be "king of he Jews. (Matthew 2:2). "Rule" could be translated 'shepherd.' It will be a much better rule then Herod's oppressive rule. Yet people vote for Herod because he does not disturb their sinning.

THIRD—THE PASSIVENESS IN THE ANSWER

"There shall come." The religious leaders knew but did not go.

  • Their disinterest. The religious leaders did not want Christ and here evidence absolutely no interest in him. Religion had degenerated into political and cultural correctness.
  • Their detachment. The religious leaders made no application to their information. This is the habit of many today. I had an adult Sunday School teacher in my Chicago church who could wax eloquent with information, but had no application. He was a very popular teacher because no application means no conviction and no rebuking. (John Butler - Sermon Starters - Volume 7)

Matthew 2:7  Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.

NET   He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well."

GNT  καὶ πέμψας αὐτοὺς εἰς Βηθλέεμ εἶπεν, Πορευθέντες ἐξετάσατε ἀκριβῶς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου· ἐπὰν δὲ εὕρητε, ἀπαγγείλατέ μοι, ὅπως κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν προσκυνήσω αὐτῷ.

NLT  Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!"

KJV  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

ESV  And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him."

NIV  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

  • Mt 26:3-5 Ex 1:10 1Sa 18:21 Ps 10:9,10 55:21 64:4-6 83:3,4 Isa 7:5-7 Eze 38:10,11 Rev 12:1-5,15 

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.

Herod, sometimes called Herod the Great was the son of Antipater, a part-Jew of Edomite descent. He was the procurator of Judaea from 47 B.C. until he died in 4 B.C., soon after the flight of Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus into Egypt (Matthew 2:19). This indicates that Christ must have been born in 4 B.C. or earlier.

Evidently, the star had appeared to the wise men only while they were still "in the east" (Matthew 2:2). Even though they probably knew (Micah 5:2) that He would be born in Bethlehem (a village six miles away from Jerusalem), they would naturally travel first to Jerusalem as a courtesy to the king. They would also assume that the arrival of the long-awaited King would be an occasion for rejoicing and by the time they could complete their long pilgrimage from Persia, He would surely have been brought to the capital to be worshiped by His people. How wrong they were about that!

(v7,9) Herod's inquiry concerning the time of the appearance of the star indicates that the Magi had not seen the star from the time they left their homes in the East. The question also belies Herod's scheme to locate and execute the infant claimant to the throne. 
    [V9-10] suggest that the Magi saw the star again only upon their departure from Jerusalem. It led them unfailingly to Bethlehem. The account would seem to indicate that the star was a supernatural and not a natural phenomenon (cf. Nu 24:17).


Herod's Deceptive Seeking

Matthew 2:7  Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared" (Genesis 7:23).

Herod was upset about the news of a "king of the Jews." Matthew 2:2 being born and did some inquiring to protect himself from this threat.

FIRST—THE PRIVACY OF THE INQUIRY

"Then Herod when he had privily called the wise men." We think we can conceal our actions but God sees all.

  • The purpose of privacy. Herod liked to deal secretly so others would not see the evil he was doing or see his deficiencies. Herod thought he was acting clandestinely here but little did he know that his actions would be recorded for all to see in the Gospel of Matthew.
  • The practice of privacy. The lesson here is that no matter how we conceal matters God sees everything and knows everything about us. He even knows our thoughts.

SECOND—THE PASSION OF THE INQUIRY

"Diligently Herod's evil plans really needed to know how long it had been since Christ was born.

  • The pretense in the diligence. This diligence looked good for Herod. But his passion here was passion for the preservation of his throne and not a passion for praise for Christ.
  • The problem for the diligence. He shows ignorance in his pretense. He does not seem to allow for the fact that the appearance of the star to the wise men could have come before Christ was born. But than Herod is a wicked politician, not an honest seeker of the truth. Spiritual ignorance is often accompanied by practical ignorance (e.g. the case of evolution). Herod was a first-class fool (Romans 1:22).
  • The place of diligence. Of course there are some who are honest and noble in their diligence quest for spiritual knowledge. In fact, if you want to know spiritual knowledge, you have to be diligent in the pursuit of it, or you will not learn much.

THIRD—THE THE PERVERSION IN THE INQUIRY

"When the star appeared." Herod wanted to know the time of Christ's birth to help him slay the right age group. While we have already pointed out the perverting of his inquiry, we emphasize it here.

  • The perverting of the star. The star was a guide to the Christchild, it was not intended to be used to kill the Christ-child as Herod planned. Satan loves to pervert that which God gives us, for our good and help, into something that he can pervert to lead people to doing evil. That explains why some texts are perverted to justify evil.
  • The perverting of the motivation. God is interested in your motivation—it can justify or rebuke your actions. Herod's inquiry is another illustration of the spiritual ignorance of those who are in powers of authority politically. They may be skilled in politics but when he comes to spiritual matters, they are all thumbs. But they use pretended spiritual interest and knowledge to get votes.  (John Butler - Sermon Starters - Volume 7

Matthew 2:8  And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him."

NET  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well."

GNT καὶ πέμψας αὐτοὺς εἰς Βηθλέεμ εἶπεν, Πορευθέντες ἐξετάσατε ἀκριβῶς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου· ἐπὰν δὲ εὕρητε, ἀπαγγείλατέ μοι, ὅπως κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν προσκυνήσω αὐτῷ.

NLT   Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!"

KJV   And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

ESV  And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him."

NIV   He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

  • go - 1Sa 23:22,23 2Sa 17:14 1Ki 19:2 Job 5:12,13 Ps 33:10,11 Pr 21:30 La 3:37 1Co 3:19,20 
  • that - Mt 26:48,49 2Sa 15:7-12 2Ki 10:18,19 Ezr 4:1,2 Ps 12:2,3 Ps 55:11-15 Pr 26:24,25 Jer 41:5-7 Lu 20:20,21 

HEROD THE
DECEIVER

And he sent them to Bethlehem - Herod sends the magi, thinking they will serve as his "stool pigeons" (so to speak) and act as his informants as to whereabouts of the infant Jesus. Powerful men think they can use people at will, but God would supernaturally supervene and disrupt Herod's evil ruse. 

And said, "Go and search carefully for the Child 

Child (3813)(paidion diminutive of pais = child) is a little child of either sex, ranging from an infant (Mt 19:13, 14; Mk 10:13-15; Lk 18:16, 17, etc) to children who are older (Mt 11:16; Mt 14:21; 15:38; 18:2-5, etc) Paidion is used repeatedly of the infant Jesus in Matthew Matt. 2:8; Matt. 2:9; Matt. 2:11; Matt. 2:13; Matt. 2:14; Matt. 2:20; Matt. 2:21.

And when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him - When my children were little and I knew they were lying I would say "Liar, liar, pants on fire," and then I would set their pants "ablaze" so to speak. Herod is of his father the devil about whom Jesus declared " He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (Jn 8:44). Herod would soon show, "like father, like son," by murdering innocent children in an attempt to murder Christ, exactly what Satan wanted to do! 


Herod, The Actor

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

Herod was acting very deceptive here in speaking with the wise men. He spoke some truth but not all truth. It was obvious that he did not belong in the 'truthful' category but in the 'lying' category.

FIRST—THE WAY PROCLAIMED

"He sent them to Bethlehem." Bethlehem was just five miles south. The wise men had asked where Christ was born. Herod called the religious leaders to him to tell him this fact. He obviously did it clandestinely, he wanted to look good in telling the wise men where to go. Then he called the wise men privately to ask about the star. Herod would use this inquiry of the wise men to advance his own evil plans (Matthew 2:13). He was like many evil people who will use tragedy, floods, sports, and whatever to promote themselves, to get their picture on the front page, to be interviewed by radio and TV, to get votes for himself or herself. It is the Jesse Jackson syndrome (QCT newspaper).

SECOND—THE WORK PRECEPT

"Go and search diligently for the young child." This was both guileful advice and good advice.

  • Guileful advice. You will note Herod did not volunteer to help them search. He was like a lot of people, they can give good advice but they do not follow it themselves. Jesus said of the religious leaders of his day, who were like that, "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works; for they say and do not:" (Matthew 23:3).
  • Good advice. We ought to search diligently in spiritual matters. "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found." (Isaiah 55:6). Lack of diligence in spiritual matters will curse a person with many missed blessings. Often folk are diligent where it doe not matter, but not where it matters. Folk will get up early to get their kid to soccer practice, but not for church. If church attendance requires any diligence they complain, for they reserve their diligence for carnal efforts.

THIRD—THE WORSHIP PROMISED

"When ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also." Herod promised that he too wanted to worship the Christ-child. It must have been a very convincing bit of subterfuge, for the wise men required a special revelation from God not to inform Herod of their finding the Christ-child (Matthew 2:12). Herod was so deceptive here. He feigned interest in Christ so he could destroy Him. Satan puts many in church like that. They feign an interest in spiritual matters to get their foot in the door, to get elected to office, and to be appointed as a teacher of some prestigious class, but then they become such problems to deal with at board meetings and business meetings that they actually are a liability and not an asset in the church. (John Butler - Sermon Starters - Volume 7

Matthew 2:9  After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.

NET  After listening to the king they left, and once again the star they saw when it rose led them until it stopped above the place where the child was.

GNT  οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες τοῦ βασιλέως ἐπορεύθησαν καὶ ἰδοὺ ὁ ἀστήρ, ὃν εἶδον ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ, προῆγεν αὐτούς, ἕως ἐλθὼν ἐστάθη ἐπάνω οὗ ἦν τὸ παιδίον.

NLT  After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.

KJV  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.

ESV  After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.

NIV  After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.

  • the star - Mt 2:2 Ps 25:12 Pr 2:1-6 8:17 2Pe 1:19 

After hearing the king, they went their way - At this time they were doubtless duped by the deceiver Herod and had all intentions of returning as indicated by the fact that God had to give them a specific warning not to return. 

And the star, which they had seen in the east (see anatole), went on before them - This is not just "a" star, not just "any" star, but was "the star," identified as a specific star by use of the definitive article "the" (in Greek). The recognized something about the star that identified it as "His star." (Mt 2:2+) and so off they went on the short journey to Bethlehem. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was His star. How did they know? We simply do not know but won't Heaven be fun to talk with them about their journey of a lifetime!  Went on before is proago in the imperfect tense picturing the star as going on an on in front of them toward it's target. They knew the town was Bethlehem but the star was directing them to the specific location of the Child

THOUGHT- The supernatural light of God gave direction to the wise men in their search for Jesus. Today that same supernatural light comes from His Word and gives light for those seeking Jesus. 

Proverbs 6:23  For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life 

Psalms 119:105 Nun. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. 

John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;

Until it came and stood over the place where the Child was - Passages like this should simply cause us to pause and worship Him Who created the stars, the One "Who makes the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south;  Who does great things, unfathomable, and wondrous works without number." (Job 9:9-10) When we get glimpses into God's mysterious omnipotent workings as in this passage, I am always reminded of the words of Job "Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; and how faint a word we hear of Him!" (Job 26:14) That the star stood over the place where the Child was is the idea is that it "hovered" over where Jesus was! Will God show us these wonderful workings some day in Heaven? I pray so! 

Child (3813)(paidion diminutive of pais = child) is a little child of either sex, ranging from an infant (Mt 19:13, 14; Mk 10:13-15; Lk 18:16, 17, etc) to children who are older (Mt 11:16; Mt 14:21; 15:38; 18:2-5, etc) Paidion is used repeatedly of the infant Jesus in Matthew Matt. 2:8; Matt. 2:9; Matt. 2:11; Matt. 2:13; Matt. 2:14; Matt. 2:20; Matt. 2:21.

Matthew 2:10  When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

NET When they saw the star they shouted joyfully.

GNT ἰδόντες δὲ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα.

NLT When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!

KJV   When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

ESV  When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

NIV   When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

  • they rejoiced - De 32:13 Ps 67:4 105:3 Lu 2:10,20 Ac 13:46-48 Ro 15:9-13 

UNSPEAKABLE
INCOMPARABLE JOY

When they saw the star - It was "the (specific) star," His star. And why did they rejoice? Because the star signaled the goal of their long journey and the anticipation of seeing Jesus brought them great joy.

THOUGHT - The hope (absolute certainty, not "hope so" but "hope sure") that we as believers will one day (SOON) see our Savior face to face (the Goal of our life's journey) ought to stir in our hearts exceedingly great joy today! Are you downcast, despairing? Then preach to your soul to hope in God (Ps 43:5). Ponder your future appointment with Jesus the Lover of your soul. Let that thought invigorate your heart. We need to heed Peter's exhortation  to "prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:13) We need to obey Paul's command to "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory." (Col 3:2-4) And we need to heed the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews to fix "our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb 12:2). 

They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy - The NET rendering is very weak "they shouted joyfully." Matthew could have simply said "they rejoiced" and we would have understood him. Instead, he piles up words that literally read "they rejoiced with exceeding great joy" Rejoiced is  chairo means to enjoy a state of gladness, to be delighted. Exceedingly is sphroda an adverb meaning extremely, greatly, very much. Great is megas which means out of the ordinary in degree, magnitude, or effect. And finally joy is chara is a feeling of great pleasure, of inner gladness, or of delight, an emotion evoked by a sense of well-being and a deep feeling of happiness and contentment. It is almost as if they could not experience a greater degree of joy. So as stated above their "over the top" joy was because of their anticipation at their imminent meeting with the real "Star," the King of the Jews

The reaction of these Gentile magi recalls a similar reaction of the Jewish shepherds....

(Lk 2:10) But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

(Lk 2:20) The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

John Butler observes that "Herod was not rejoicing (HE WAS TROUBLED. HE WAS SCHEMING). Evil people are too busy doing evil to rejoice and to know joy. Their joy is hallow, unreal, superficial, but when God gives joy, it supersedes anything the world has to offer. The wise men knew tremendous joy because Christ was their focus. He is the key to true joy. There is no true joy apart from Jesus.  (John Butler - Sermon Starters - Volume 7

As with gladness men of old 
    Did the guiding star behold; 
    As with joy they hailed its light, 
    Leading onward, beaming bright, 
    So, now gracious Lord, may we, 
    Even more be led to Thee.
                William C. Dix 

Matthew Henry applies the text -  What joy these wise men felt 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. We may well think what a disappointment it was to them, when they found a cottage was his palace, and his own poor mother the only attendant he had. However, these wise men did not think themselves baffled; but having found the King they sought, they presented their gifts to him. The humble inquirer after Christ will not be stumbled at finding him and his disciples in obscure cottages, after having in vain sought them in palaces and populous cities. Is a soul busy, seeking after Christ? Would it worship him, and does it say, Alas! I am a foolish and poor creature, and have nothing to offer? Nothing! Hast thou not a heart, though unworthy of him, dark, hard, and foul? Give it to him as it is, and be willing that he use and dispose of it as it pleases him; he will take it, and will make it better, and thou shalt never repent having given it to him. He shall frame it to his own likeness, and will give thee himself, and be thine for ever. The gifts the wise men presented were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Providence sent these as a seasonable relief to Joseph and Mary in their present poor condition. Thus our heavenly Father, who knows what his children need, uses some as stewards to supply the wants of others, and can provide for them, even from the ends of the earth. 

Matthew 2:11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

NET   As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

GNT   καὶ ἐλθόντες εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν εἶδον τὸ παιδίον μετὰ Μαρίας τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, καὶ πεσόντες προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ καὶ ἀνοίξαντες τοὺς θησαυροὺς αὐτῶν προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δῶρα, χρυσὸν καὶ λίβανον καὶ σμύρναν.

NLT   They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

KJV  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.

ESV   And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

NIV   On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

  • they saw - Lu 2:16,26-32,38 
  • worshipped - Mt 2:2 4:9,10 14:33 Ps 2:12 95:6 Joh 5:22,23 Ac 10:25,26 Rev 19:10 Rev 22:8-10 
  • presented - or, offered, Ge 43:11 1Sa 10:27 1Ki 10:2,10 Ps 72:10,15 Isa 60:6 
  • frankincense - Ex 30:23,34 Lev 2:1,2 6:15 Nu 7:14,86 Ps 45:8 Mal 1:11 Rev 5:8 

THE FIRST RECORDED
GENTILE WORSHIPPERS

The first recorded worshippers were poor Jewish shepherds and now we see rich Gentile wise men, giving us a foreshadowing of Jesus' life purpose to be the Savior of the world, both Jews and Gentiles!

After coming into the house - It would seem that the overcrowded situation which existed in Bethlehem when Mary and Joseph had first arrived arrived was now dissipated. The family had now found a house to live in, instead of their initial accomodations when Mary "gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7+). As discussed below it may have been many weeks or months since His birth, even up to two years. The reaction by Herod would also tend to support this premise. Herod, after inquiring "diligently what time the star appeared" to the wise men, ordered all the young children in and around Bethlehem up to two years of age to be slain." (Mt 2:7,16).

House (3614)(oikia from oikos = house) is literally one's residence, home or abode. Oikia is an inhabited edifice, building or dwelling. Oikia is used 94x in 85 verses and is always translated house (or related word like household). 

They saw the Child with Mary His mother: Interesting that there is no mention of Joseph at this visit (cf shepherds in Lk 2:16+) We do not know how many magi there were at this viewing of the Messiah. It is notable that Child is the noun paidion and not brephos (most often of a literal baby), the word used to describe the shepherds visit to the "baby (brephos) wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (Lk 2:12+), Luke adds that the shepherds "came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby (brephos) as He lay in the manger." (Luke 2:16+). So notice the distinctive features of the two visits to Jesus - (1) the magi see the Child (paidion) in the house (oikia) by following a sign (His star) and in contrast (2) the shepherds see a baby (brephos) in the manger by seeing the sign of "a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Lk 2:12+) This contrast between the magi and the shepherds would support the premise that while the shepherds saw the newborn baby Jesus, the magi saw the infant Jesus, some time after His birth. In addition the fact that Herod chose the age of 2 years and younger to be killed supports that the magi did not visit Jesus as a newly born infant but later as a young infant. How much later we cannot say for sure but it could be days, months or even up to 2 years. 

Child (3813)(paidion diminutive of pais = child) is a little child of either sex, ranging from an infant (Mt 19:13, 14; Mk 10:13-15; Lk 18:16, 17, etc) to children who are older (Mt 11:16; Mt 14:21; 15:38; 18:2-5, etc) Paidion is used repeatedly of the infant Jesus in Matthew Matt. 2:8; Matt. 2:9; Matt. 2:11; Matt. 2:13; Matt. 2:14; Matt. 2:20; Matt. 2:21. Barclay adds that "paidion (is) a child young in experience." 

Related Resource:

WISE MEN
WORSHIP

And they fell to the ground and worshiped Him - Fell down is described by BDAG as to "throw oneself to the ground as a sign of devotion, before high-ranking persons or divine beings." Falling to the ground is what you do to acknowledge you (in this case the INFANT JESUS) are high and I am low. One can envision them as they are falling on their faces before Jesus, throwing their kisses toward Him in a gesture of reverence and respect (see proskuneo). Note that they worshipped Him, not Mary who is NOT to be worshipped and Scripture never describes as being worshipped! Respected yes. Revered to a degree, yes. But NEVER worshipped.

INTERESTING NOTE - In the Gospels their are nine prostrations before the Savior. Magi (Matthew 2:11); Jarius (Mark 5:22); Woman healed (Mark 5:33); Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:25); Peter, (Luke 5:8); The Leper (Luke 5:12); 7, The Gadarene (Luke 8:28); 8, The Samaritan (Luke 17:16); 9, Mary (John 11:32).

Worship (bow down) (4352)(proskuneo from pros = before + kuneo = kiss or adore) means to prostrate one’s self, to kiss the hand to (towards) one in token of reverence, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence (to make a salam), by kneeling or prostration to do homage to one or make obeisance, either in order to express respect or make supplication. When Jesus Christ was born into this world, He was attended and worshipped by angels. (Lu 2:13f+). Proskuneo represents the most common Near Eastern act of adoration and reverence and also carries the idea of profound awe and respect. Some believe that the root word kuneo may be related to kuon which is the Greek word for dog and which then could be picturing a dog licking his master's hand. Proskuneo literally means to kiss toward someone, to throw a kiss in token of respect or homage, to prostrate oneself in homage, to do reverence to, to adore and so to worship and show respect. In the ancient Oriental (especially Persia) the mode of salutation between persons of equal rank was to kiss each other on the lips. When the difference of rank was slight, they kissed each other on the cheek. When one was much inferior, he fell upon his knees touched his forehead to the ground or prostrated himself, and as he was bowing down he would be throwing kisses toward the superior. It is this latter mode of salutation that is intended by the Greek writers in the use of the verb proskuneo . Matthew's uses of proskuneo - Matt. 2:2; Matt. 2:8; Matt. 2:11; Matt. 4:9; Matt. 4:10; Matt. 8:2; Matt. 9:18; Matt. 14:33; Matt. 15:25; Matt. 18:26; Matt. 20:20; Matt. 28:9; Matt. 28:17

Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh - Their treasures implies they gave their best! In effect they were showing by their gifts the this King of the Jews was their greatest treasure! I am reminded that in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Col 2:3+) He is our greatest Treasure in time and eternity! The principle is clear, if we would seek to worship Jesus well, we will unreservedly offer Him our best! The worship of the magi was associated with voluntary giving of gifts. The gifts were expensive gifts and were fit for a king. It is well attested that the Jewish expectation was that both Jews and non-Jews would bring the Messiah gifts While it may be somewhat fanciful, the early church Fathers understood the gold to be symbolic of Christ's deity, the frankincense of His purity, and the myrrh of His death (since it was used for embalming). Walvoord says "Unquestionably the gifts were chosen appropriately: gold for His deity and majesty, frankincense for the fragrance of His life and His intercession, myrrh for His sacrifice and death."

Psalm 72:10-11 was written for Solomon but it looks beyond Solomon to One far greater, the future worship of the Messiah "Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. And let all kings bow down before him, All nations serve him."

Treasures (2344)(thesauros from títhemi = put, set) refers to the place where goods and precious things are stored for safekeeping here referring to in essence a "treasure chest." 

Presented (4374)(prosphero from prós = to, toward, denotes motion toward a place + phéro = bring) means to carry or bring something into the presence of someone usually implying a transfer of something to that person carry to. Prosphero refers to the presentation of an offering, in this case the magi's (doron).  This first use of prophero in the NT in giving an offering to Jesus in the atmosphere of worship and reverence is in striking contrast to the use of prophero as He was being Himself offered up as an offering to God (cf Jn 1:29) and they approached Him and brought (prosphero) sour wine up to His mouth (Jn 19:29)! The first "offering" at His birth to Him in a Cradle, the last offering at His death, to Him on a Cross! Oh my!

Gifts (1435)(doron) is that which is given or granted and stresses the gratuitous character of the gift which is voluntarily transferred by one to another without compensation and here refers to a gift presented as an act of worship and devotion. Almost all 17 uses of doron refer to offerings to God (except Eph 2:8 Rev 11:10).

While the intent of the gifts was pure worship, there is another possible benefit of the expensive gifts from the magi, for Joseph and Mary would soon have to take the Christ Child to Egypt to escape the murderous designs of Herod. The gifts of the magi would have provided funds needed to make the trip and provide for living expenses. True worship enables the work of God to go forward.

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.

NET  After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back by another route to their own country.

GNT  καὶ χρηματισθέντες κατ᾽ ὄναρ μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην, δι᾽ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν.

NLT  When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

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

ESV And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

NIV  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

  • warned - Mt 2:22 1:20 27:19 Ge 20:6,7 31:24 Job 33:15-17 Da 2:19 
  • they left - Ex 1:17 Ac 4:19 5:29 1Co 3:19 

DIVINE DIRECTIVE
TO DETOUR

And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod - Apparently this warning was by God Himself as no angelic messenger is described. 

Warned (5537)(chrematizo from chrema = an affair, business, sum of money) in the NT means to impart a divine message (an injunction or warning). Chrematizo in this sense speaks of a divine oracle or declaration as to Simeon to whom "it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ" (Lk 2:26+). Here and in Mt 2:22 it is a divine warning. Marvin Vincent has an interesting note on the meaning of chrematizo in the present context writing "The verb means to give a response to one who asks or consults: hence, in the passive, as here, to receive an answer. The word therefore implies that the wise men had sought counsel of God; and so Wycliffe, "And answer taken in sleep.""

Dream (3677)(onar) is a divine communication which is distinct from a vision (horama). Onar is used only in the the Gospel of Matthew with no uses in the Septuagint. Matt. 1:20; Matt. 2:12; Matt. 2:13; Matt. 2:19; Matt. 2:22; Matt. 27:19

Return (344)(anakampto from aná = back again + kámpto = bend) means literally to bend back or turn back and so to return. To bend back one's course. To bend one's steps back.  Used only 4x - Matt. 2:12 = "“If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you." Lk. 10:6; Acts 18:21 = "“I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus." Heb. 11:15 = "indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return." The "bent" of the hearts of the patriarchs was toward heaven not earth!

The magi left for their own country by another way - The magi had ears to hear the supernatural warning and took the divinely directed detour! Once again we see God's sovereign hand orchestrating the events in men's life to assure that His will is accomplished. 

THOUGHT - I wonder if we are as wise as these magi? So many times God gives us a clear warning to "steer clear" of some place, some person, some thing, and we like a stubborn mule go headlong to that place, person or thing which around which we were warned to take a detour!  

Left (402)(anachoreo from ana = back again or emphatic + choreo = depart, make room) means to depart from a location. Anachoreō is used several times in Matthew to describe a strategic withdrawal in the face of danger (Mt 2:12–14, 22; 4:12; 12:15; 14:13; 15:21) here the magi who were warned by God  and in Mt 2:14 of Joseph when he was warned and "left for Egypt" Liddell-Scott says anachoreo was used by Homer to retire or withdraw from battle, to retire from a place, to come back or revert to the rightful owner, to withdraw from the world. Gilbrant adds that "In classical Greek literature the word’s semantic range includes “walk backwards,” “revert to,” or even “to strike” (i.e., “refuse to work”). In the Septuagint anachōreō especially depicts flight or withdrawal from a place or area (e.g., Ex 2:15; Nu 16:24; Josh 8:15)." 

Matthew 2:13  Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him."

NET  After they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to look for the child to kill him."

GNT   Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾽ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων, Ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό.

NLT   After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."

KJV  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.

ESV   Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."

NIV  When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."

  • an angel - Mt 2:19 1:20 Ac 5:19 10:7,22 12:11 Heb 1:13,14 
  • Get up - Mt 10:23 Rev 12:6,14 
  • Until - Mt 2:19,20 Jos 3:13,17 4:10,18 Da 3:25,26 Ac 16:36 
  • For Herod - Mt 2:16 Ex 1:22 2:2,3 Job 33:15,17 Ac 7:19 Rev 12:4 

The Flight into Egypt by Giotto di Bondone 

GOD SOVEREIGNLY INTERVENES
TO ASSURE SAFETY OF HIS SON

Now when they had gone, behold - Behold (see note above on idou) is to grab our attention. Joseph would not need to have a behold for an angel in a dream would be enough to grab anyone's full attention!

An angel (aggelos/angelos) of the Lord (kurios) appeared (phaino) to Joseph (kuriosin a dream (onar) - God Himself speaks to the magi in a dream and now speaks via an angel to Joseph in another dream. Notice this is AN angel and not THE Angel of the LORD (Pre-incarnate Christophany) as is seen so in the OT (cf Ge16:7).

And said, "Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you - Take is paralambano in the aorist imperative, implying a note of urgency. Do this now! Do not delay! Flee and remain are also commands in present imperative. Keep on fleeing. Keep remaining in Egypt.

So we see fulfillment of OT prophecy involved (1) when Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) in obedience to the imperial decree (Lu 2:1-5 - sovereignly brought about by God), and (2) when they fled to Egypt (Hosea 11:1), following the command from the Lord's messenger. 

Child (3813)(paidion diminutive of pais = child) is a little child of either sex, ranging from an infant (Mt 19:13, 14; Mk 10:13-15; Lk 18:16, 17, etc) to children who are older (Mt 11:16; Mt 14:21; 15:38; 18:2-5, etc) Paidion is used repeatedly of the infant Jesus in Matthew Matt. 2:8; Matt. 2:9; Matt. 2:11; Matt. 2:13; Matt. 2:14; Matt. 2:20; Matt. 2:21.

Flee (escape) (5343)(pheugo) means to flee away in the sense of to take to flight in order to seek safety. To flee in the sense of to escape something, being made safe from danger by eluding or avoiding it. Webster defines flee as to run away often from danger or evil or to hurry toward a place of security. Pheugo is the root of our English word "fugitive" defined as one who escapes from something or someone

For (gar) is a term of explanation. God is giving the reason for the staccato-like commands that convey a sense of urgency. One can imagine the stir in Herod's palace as he realizes the magi have duped him and it did not take him long to realized he had to carry out infanticide!

Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him - Search speaks of eagerness and diligence and the present tense

Search (2212)(zeteo) implies giving attention and priority to and deliberately pursuing after. The most common sense of this word is to "seek".

Destroy (622)(apollumi from apo = away from or wholly + olethros = state of utter ruin <> ollumi = to destroy) means to destroy utterly but not to cause one to cease to exist.

Matthew 2:14  So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.

NET  Then he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and went to Egypt.

GNT  ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβεν τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς καὶ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον,

NLT  That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother,

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

ESV   And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt

NIV   So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,

  • Mt 2:20,21 1:24 Ac 26:21 

So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt - Joseph's immediate obedience is a good example for all of us when we hear from the Lord (through His Word and prayer). 

Child (3813)see paidion diminutive of pais = child) is a little child 

Left (402) see above on anachoreo 

Matthew 2:15  He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON."

NET  He stayed there until Herod died. In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled: "I called my Son out of Egypt."

GNT  καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς Ἡρῴδου· ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος, Ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου.

NLT  and they stayed there until Herod's death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my Son out of Egypt."

KJV  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.

ESV  and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."

NIV  where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."

  • until - Mt 2:19 Ac 12:1-4,23,24 
  • what - Mt 2:17,23 1:22 4:14,15 8:17 12:16-18 21:4 26:54,56 27:35 Lu 24:44 Joh 19:28,36 Ac 1:16 
  • Out - Ex 4:22 Nu 24:8 Ho 11:1 

He remained there until the death of Herod - Josephus, in his Antiquities, records Herod’s horrible end (Read chapter 33 where Josephus details Herod's last days), his body rotting away and consumed by worms. His grandson, Herod Agrippa, was to die a similar death (Acts 12:23+).

John Walvoord on where they stayed in Egypt, etc - More details are not given. Artists picture Mary riding on an ass, holding the baby, and being led by Joseph. No Scripture is found as to where they stayed in Egypt. Matthew, however, anticipating the charge that Christ picked up magical arts by a long stay in Egypt, specifies that they were there only until the death of Herod, which occurred within three years of His birth.

This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON." - This is the second of four fulfilled prophecies in Matthew - (1) Mt 2:6 fulfilled Micah 5:2 (2) Mt 2:15 fulfilled Hosea 11:1 (3) Mt 2:18 fulfilled Jeremiah 31:15 and (4) Mt 2:23 is said to "fulfill what was spoken through the prophets. There is however no specific prophecy or prophecies that can be definitely linked to Matthew 2:23. See discussion below on OT quotes in the NT.

This would explain why Joseph was not directed to go where the magi were living. God's purpose was to fulfill the prophecy is found in Hosea 11:1 where the context clearly indicates that it was the whole nation of Israel which had been called out of Egypt as God's young "son." Matthew, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, applies it to Christ. The children of Israel had been born in the land promised to them by God, but had to leave it and sojourn in the pagan land of Egypt for a while before being brought back home by God. Christ lived through the same experience--born in Judea, then sojourned in Egypt for a time before He was called back home.

Criswell - Some suggest that, by employing Hos. 11:1 in this verse and Jer. 31:15 in Matt. 15:17, 18, Matthew implies that Jesus recapitulates the history of Israel. The passage from Hosea, which follows the flight into Egypt, recalls the Exodus. Under this view, Matthew sees in the personal experiences of Jesus a summary of the experience of His people. He is afflicted with their affliction (Isa. 63:9) and repeats their religious experience of the Exodus from Egypt. As Egypt had been a refuge for God's people (Gen. 12:10; 46:3, 4; 1 Kin. 11:40), so now it offers asylum for the Lord's Anointed. Hosea saw in the Exodus both the liberation and election of the chosen people (cf. Ex. 4:22). Matthew uses Hosea to stress that Jesus is the liberating Messiah and Son of God, whose birth and infancy are guided by God's providence as was Israel's history.

Matthew 2:16  Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

NET  When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged. He sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under, according to the time he had learned from the wise men.

GNT Τότε Ἡρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων ἐθυμώθη λίαν, καὶ ἀποστείλας ἀνεῖλεν πάντας τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς ἐν Βηθλέεμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω, κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσεν παρὰ τῶν μάγων.

NLT Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men's report of the star's first appearance.

KJV  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.

ESV  Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

NIV  When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

  • when - Ge 39:14,17 Nu 22:29 24:10 Jud 16:10 Job 12:4 
  • he became very enraged, - Pr 27:3,4 Da 3:13,19,20 
  • he became very enraged,- Ge 49:7 2Ki 8:12 Pr 28:15,17 Isa 26:21 59:7 Ho 10:14 Rev 17:6 
  • according - Mt 2:7 

Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi - Herod's slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem was in keeping with his cruel character.

Tricked (1702)(empaizo from en = in + paizo = to play as a child) means to ridicule, to make fun of, to mock, to deceive, to trick, to taunt, to treat outrageously, to treat someone contemptuously in an insolent and arrogant way, to treat abusively. Most uses describe the mocking of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here Herod is outwitted, tricked, made a fool of, trick and deceived. 

he became very enraged - Enraged is thumuoo used only here and means he was provoke to anger which was to an exceeding degree. 

and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

Fruchtenbaum -   Notice the interesting parallel between the slaughter of Jewish male babies in the time of Moses and the time of Jesus. It was Satan’s attempt to thwart the plan of God to deliver His people on both occasions.  In Genesis 15:13 God tells Abraham that his descendants will be oppressed for 400 years. Satan knew when the time was drawing near for a deliverer to be born. This would be Moses.

Criswell - The historian Josephus does not mention this massacre; and since Matthew is our only source for it, some have erroneously thought it legendary. However, Bethlehem, located a few miles south of Jerusalem, was not a large town, and the number of victims may not have been many. Since Herod's reign was bloodstained, the murder of these children (50 or fewer) may not have attracted much attention outside the immediate vicinity. Such an atrocity was not uncommon for Herod, of whom Augustus Caesar said, with a play on words, it was better to be Herod's "sow" (hus, Gk.), than his "son" (huios, Gk.). Based upon the calculations of the Magi, Herod arbitrarily included all "male children" under two years of age in order to make sure that the one "born King of the Jews" would be included. As by the sword he had removed all former threats to his reign, so he now tries to do with the Christ.

M Henry - Verses 16-18. Herod killed all the male children, not only in Bethlehem, but in all the villages of that city. Unbridled wrath, armed with an unlawful power, often carries men to absurd cruelties. It was no unrighteous thing with God to permit this; every life is forfeited to his justice as soon as it begins. The diseases and deaths of little children are proofs of original sin. But the murder of these infants was their martyrdom. How early did persecution against Christ and his kingdom begin! Herod now thought that he had baffled the Old Testament prophecies, and the efforts of the wise men in finding Christ; but whatever crafty, cruel devices are in men's hearts, the counsel of the Lord shall stand. 

Matthew 2:17  Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

NET Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

GNT  τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἰερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος,

NLT   Herod's brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

KJV  Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

ESV  Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

NIV  Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

  • Mt 2:15 

Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled - The quotation in the next verse is taken from Jer 31:15, which depicts the wailing at the time of Israel's exile. That calamity and Herod's new atrocity are viewed as part of the same broad picture.

Matthew 2:18  "A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE."

NET   "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud wailing, Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were gone."

GNT   Φωνὴ ἐν Ῥαμὰ ἠκούσθη, κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς· Ῥαχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς, καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν παρακληθῆναι, ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν.

NLT  "A cry was heard in Ramah-- weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead."

KJV  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.

ESV   "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more."

NIV "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

  • Ramah - Jer 31:15
  • lamentation - Jer 4:31 9:17-21 Eze 2:10 Rev 8:13 
  • Rachel - Ge 35:16-20 
  • REFUSED - Ge 37:30,33-35 42:36 Job 14:10 

Ryrie has an interesting note - Since Matthew was writing to those with a Jewish background, he used more quotations from the OT than the other gospel writers. There are 93 such quotations in Matthew, 49 in Mark, 80 in Luke, and 33 in John. 

A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING - This is the third of four fulfilled prophecies in Matthew - (1) Mt 2:6 fulfilled Micah 5:2 (2) Mt 2:15 fulfilled Hosea 11:1 (3) Mt 2:18 fulfilled Jeremiah 31:15 and (4) Mt 2:23 is said to "fulfill what was spoken through the prophets. There is however no specific prophecy or prophecies that can be definitely linked to Matthew 2:23. See discussion below on OT quotes in the NT.

Rachel, Jacob's beloved wife, died in Bethlehem (Ge35:19) and thus the grieving mothers of Bethlehem's slaughtered children are all personified in her name. Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, whose descendants were still associated with the town. Since the slaughter of the children is evidently not recorded in secular history, some have denied that it really happened. However, Bethlehem was a small village, with relatively few young children. In view of Herod's notorious cruelty (he even put one of his wives and his three oldest sons to death), this occurrence was quite in character and probably was accorded little secular notice outside the affected community. The event was prophesied in Jer 31:15, but the prophet also exhorted them to "refrain...from weeping" because the slain children are safe with the Lord and "shall come again from the land of the enemy" (Jer 31:16)

Jer 31:15 Thus says the LORD, “A voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.” 

RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE: The massacre of the innocents recalls Jeremiah's prophecy lamenting the captivity of Rachel's descendants (Je31:15). Ramah is located between 5.5-8 mi north of Jerusalem and was the scene of the gathering of the exiles. As they pass Ramah, Jeremiah pictures Rachel's weeping from her tomb over the fate of the fallen Ephraimites. Jeremiah uses this tragic event to introduce his description of the new covenant ( Je31:31-34). Although the parallelism of sentiment between the Exile and Herod's atrocity is evident, Matthew employs the event to introduce the new covenant which Jesus has come to inaugurate in fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy.

Matthew 2:19  But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said,

NET  After Herod had died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt

GNT Τελευτήσαντος δὲ τοῦ Ἡρῴδου ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾽ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ

NLT When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.

KJV   But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

ESV But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

NIV  After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt

  • Herod - Ps 76:10 Isa 51:12 Da 8:25 11:45 
  • an angel - Mt 2:13 1:20 Ps 139:7 Jer 30:10 Eze 11:16 

HEROD'S DEATH MARKS
RETURN FROM EGYPT

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said - Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. and his kingdom was divided up among his three sons: Archelaus, who ruled over Judea (where Bethlehem was located, Mt 2:22); Philip, who became tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis (cf. Lk 3:1); and Antipas, who became tetrarch of Galilee (location of Nazareth).

M. Henry - Verses 19-23. Egypt may serve to sojourn in, or take shelter in, for awhile, but not to abide in. Christ was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, to them he must return. Did we but look upon the world as our Egypt, the place of our bondage and banishment, and heaven only as our Canaan, our home, our rest, we should as readily arise and depart thither, when we are called for, as Joseph did out of Egypt. The family must settle in Galilee. Nazareth was a place held in bad esteem, and Christ was crucified with this accusation, Jesus the Nazarene. Wherever Providence allots the bounds of our habitation, we must expect to share the reproach of Christ; yet we may glory in being called by his name, sure that if we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him. 

Matthew 2:20  "Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child's life are dead."

NET   saying, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child's life are dead."

GNT   λέγων, Ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ πορεύου εἰς γῆν Ἰσραήλ· τεθνήκασιν γὰρ οἱ ζητοῦντες τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ παιδίου.

NLT   "Get up!" the angel said. "Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead."

KJV  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.

ESV  saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead."

NIV  and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."

  • Get up  - Mt 2:13 Pr 3:5,6 
  • for - Ex 4:19 1Ki 11:21,40 12:1-3 

Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel

Child (3813)see paidion diminutive of pais = child) is a little child 

For those who sought the Child's life are dead 

Matthew 2:21  So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

NET   So he got up and took the child and his mother and returned to the land of Israel.

GNT  ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβεν τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς γῆν Ἰσραήλ.

NLT   So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother.

KJV   And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

ESV   And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

NIV   So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

  • Ge 6:22 Heb 11:8 

The Return from Egypt by James Tissot

So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel -The first area the family would have come to was Judea, which was ruled by Archelaus. 

Arnold Fruchtenbaum - They would have spent one to two years in Egypt, based on Josephus’ account of Herod dying in Jericho in 4 B.C.

H Morris - Joseph apparently intended to return to the house in Bethlehem (Mt2:9) where they had been living before their quick flight to Egypt. Instead, in response to another divine warning (Mt2:22), he took the family back to Nazareth where they had lived before journeying to Bethlehem. The parallel account in Luke makes no mention of the visit of the Magi or of the flight to Egypt. It simply notes that they returned to Nazareth after a short visit to Jerusalem to dedicate Jesus to the Lord and to offer the appropriate sacrifice after his mother's month of purification (Lu2:21-24,39 Lv12:1-8). They evidently had returned to Bethlehem from Jerusalem, which was only a few miles away, by the time that the Magi came several months later.

Matthew 2:22  But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee,

NET  But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. After being warned in a dream, he went to the regions of Galilee.

GNT   ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῴδου ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν· χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ᾽ ὄναρ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας,

NLT   But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod's son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee.

KJV  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:

ESV  But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

NIV  But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,

  • he was - Ge 19:17-21 1Sa 16:2 Ac 9:13,14 
  • being - Mt 2:12 1:20 Ps 48:14 73:24 107:6,7 121:8 Isa 30:21 48:17,18 
  • he left for the regions of Galilee - Mt 3:13 Lu 2:39 Joh 7:41,42,52 
 

Turquoise = Archelaus
Brown = Herod Antipas
Tan = Philip the Tetrarch

JOSEPH WARNED
IN ANOTHER DREAM

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod he was afraid (phobeo) to go there - The Roman government divided Herod's kingdom among his 3 sons - Archelaus (4 B.C.-A.D. 6) ruled over Judah, Idumea and Samaria. Antipas ruled over Galilee and Perea. Philip became tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis (cf. Lk 3:1). Archelaus was a bloody king and even worse in the eyes of Rome was the fact that he was an ineffective ruler. As  a result Augustus made him ethnarch, a title with less prestige than that of "king." He pursued the building of public works but was a repressive ruler. Early in his reign a riot broke out in Jerusalem during Passover. Three thousand people were killed by his soldiers, and it is probably this fact that contributed to Joseph's migration to Galilee. After a deputation of the Jewish aristocracy from Judea and Samaria visited Rome to protest the rule of Archelaus, he was deposed and banished  by Caesar Augustus in A.D. 6 to Gaul. 

Bruce on Archelaus  - “A man of kindred nature, suspicious, truculent (Jospehus Antiquities, 17.11.2), to be feared and avoided by such as had cause to fear his father.” 

Then after being warned (chrematizo-Mt 2:12) by God in a dream (onar) he left (anachoreo) for the regions of Galilee - This is the fourth communication from God to Joseph using a dream (Mt 1:20, Mt 2:12, Mt 2:19, Mt 2:22). This is the fourth use of departed (left - anachoreo) in this chapter (Mt 2:12, Mt 2:13, Mt 2:14, Mt 2:22). 

Matthew 2:23  and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: "He shall be called a Nazarene."

NET   He came to a town called Nazareth and lived there. Then what had been spoken by the prophets was fulfilled, that Jesus would be called a Nazarene.

GNT  καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ· ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.

NLT So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: "He will be called a Nazarene."

KJV 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.

ESV And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

NIV and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

  • Nazareth - Joh 18:5,7 19:19 Acts 2:22 
  • He shall - Mt 26:71 Nu 6:13 Judges 13:5 1Sa 1:11 Ps 69:9,10 Isa 53:1,2 Am 2:10-12  Joh 1:45,46 Ac 24:5 

And came and lived in a city called Nazareth (See another map which shows Jerusalem or hereNazareth was a no name town, thought to be home of nobody, but when Joseph moved his family there after returning from Egypt, Nazareth became the home of the greatest Somebody in the history of the world! But when looked at in the historical context (see more on Nazareth below), Jesus came out of a region (Galilee) and town (Nazareth) that were held in low esteem by most Jews, especially the Jews in Judea. 

Nazareth (3478)(Nazaret) is a transliteration of the Greek word. It is located about 14 miles west, southwest from the Sea of Galilee, 6 miles west and NW of Mount Tabor and about 60 miles due north of Jerusalem. Mark refers to it as "Nazareth in Galilee" (Mk 1:9). Nazareth had such a low reputation, it was not even mentioned in the Old Testament, Josephus, the Talmud or even any of the classic Greek writers before the time of Christ! While the region of Galilee in Jesus' day generally had a negative reputation, and was looked down on by Judeans (Jerusalem and Bethlehem were in Judea), Nazareth was even more looked down upon. In Jn 1:46 "Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see (REFERRING TO MESSIAH)." There were no rabbinic schools in Galilee in Jesus' day for they were all in Judea. The rabbis had a saying “if you want to get rich, go north, if to get wise, go south.” It was situated on a mountain (Luke 4:29) within the province of Galilee (Mark 1:9) and near Cana (John 2:1, 2, 11). There was a precipice near the town from which the people proposed to cast Jesus (Luke 4:29). The angel appeared to Mary at Nazareth, which was also the home of Joseph (Luke 1:26; Lk 2:39). Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth after their flight into Egypt (Mt 2:23). Jesus preached in its synagogue, but was rejected by the people. He was known as "Jesus of Nazareth" (see "the Nazarene" = Acts 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 6:14) and His disciples were called Nazarenes. When the Turks conquered Palestine in a.d. 1517, the Christians were driven from the town. In a.d. 1620 the Franciscan monks gained a foothold there and began to rebuild the village. At the Battle of Mount Tabor in a.d. 1799, Napoleon and his army encamped near Nazareth. Nazaret is cited in both literature (Eusebius HE i.7.6-12) and inscriptions (Israel Exploration Journal 12 [1962] 137ff.), and archaeological discoveries have confirmed a continuous habitation of the site since ca. 900 b.c.

Nazareth - 12x in 12v and not in Septuagint-

Matthew 2:23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew 4:13  and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.
Matthew 21:11   And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Mark 1:9   In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
Luke 1:26  Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,
Luke 2:4  Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
Luke 2:39  When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.
Luke 2:51   And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 
Luke 4:16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
John 1:46  Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Acts 10:38  “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Some have suggested that “Nazarene” is a reference to the Heb. word for branch in Isaiah 11:1. Others point out that Matthew’s statement that “prophets” had made this prediction may be a reference to verbal prophecies nowhere recorded in the OT. A still more likely explanation is that Matthew is using “Nazarene” as a synonym for someone who is despised or detestable—for that was how people from the region were often characterized (cf. John 1:46). If that is the case, the prophecies Matthew has in mind would include Ps. 22:6–8; Is. 49:7; 53:3.

This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: "He shall be called a Nazarene." - This is the fourth of four fulfilled prophecies in Matthew - (1) Mt 2:6 fulfilled Micah 5:2 (2) Mt 2:15 fulfilled Hosea 11:1 (3) Mt 2:18 fulfilled Jeremiah 31:15 and (4) Mt 2:23 is said to "fulfill what was spoken through the prophets. There is however no specific Old Testament prophecy or prophecies that can be definitely linked to Matthew 2:23. See discussion below on OT quotes in the NT.

Nazarene (3480)(Nazoraios)  means an inhabitant of Nazareth and all uses refer to Jesus the Nazarene, with the exception of Acts 24:5+ which refers to Christians in a derogatory sense. Vincent says Nazarene is "A term of contempt (compare Jn 1:46, 7:52)." Despite the low esteem accorded the term Nazarene, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit and boldness is not ashamed to refer to Jesus as the Nazarene not only in his inaugural sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:22+), but at other times (Acts 3:6+, Acts 4:10+). Paul states in one of his versions of his conversion experience that the One he encountered identified Himself as Jesus the Nazarene, so even after His resurrection and ascension Jesus is not ashamed of this Name!  (Acts 22:8+Nazoraios occurs 13x in 13 verses and is translated in the NAS as Nazarene (9), Nazarenes (1), Nazareth (3).

Matthew 2:23   and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew 26:71   When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and *said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” (NET = Jesus the Nazarene)
Luke 18:37  They told him that Jesus of Nazareth (NET = Jesus the Nazarene) was passing by.
John 18:5  They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them.
John 18:7   Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
John 19:19   Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Acts 2:22+   “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–
Acts 3:6+  But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!”
Acts 4:10+ let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
Acts 6:14+  for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.”
Acts 22:8+  “And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’
Acts 24:5+ “For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
Acts 26:9+  “So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (NET = Jesus the Nazarene)

Four Ways Old Testament is
Quoted in New Testament

Note that this material is a compilation from Arnold Fruchtenbaum's handout entitled "Life of Messiah", notes from "Messianic Christology."   and comments from David Cooper's Messiah: His Historical Appearance

INTRODUCTION - Note that between 1/4 and 1/3 of the Bible is devoted to prophecy and some have been fulfilled, but a greater portion of has not, but awaits materialization in the future. Because sometimes the context of the Old Testament quotation does not seem to fit the New Testament context, some have questioned the validity of the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament. When the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, it does so in four different ways. Every Old Testament quotation  found within the New Testament will always fit into one of these four categories. There is one example of each of the four ways in Matthew Two, so this will be used as the basis for explaining them. These four ways of quoting the Old Testament are the ways the rabbis in 1st century Israel quoted them in rabbinic writings. Because of so very much unscientific exegesis of the Scriptures, many honest, sincere men and women have reached the conclusion that prophecy cannot be understood, and that it is a waste of time to try to understand it. There is no occasion for such gross and fantastic misinterpretation of prophecy. Essentially, history and prophecy are written upon the same basic principles. History tells what has occurred; predictive prophecy tells what will be. The same fundamental laws of logic and of language govern in both instances. If one gets these facts clearly in mind and approaches prophecy just as he does history, recognizing that the same principles obtain in both cases, he is in a position to understand prophecy more nearly accurately than is usually the case. (Adapted from David Cooper - Messiah-His Historical Appearance)

CATEGORY (1) Literal prophecy plus literal fulfillment - Matthew 2:6 quotes Micah 5:2.

Matthew 2:6  ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’” 

Micah 5:2  “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” 

Note a specific point for point fulfillment, even predicting that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judea (not in Bethlehem of Galilee) and this is the easiest kind of prophetic fulfillment to spot. That is the literal meaning, the literal interpretation of Micah 5:2; the Messiah, when He is born, will be born in the town of Bethlehem, within the tribal territory of Judah.

In these cases, the Old Testament literally speaks of a specific event in the future. When that specific event is literally fulfilled in the context of the New Testament, the New Testament quotes that particular prophecy as a point-by-point fulfillment. Many of the quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament fall into this category.

Other examples of Category (1)

  1. Mt 1:22-23 quoting Isaiah 7:14,
  2. Mt 3:3 quoting Isaiah 40:3,
  3. Mark 1:2 quoting Malachi 3:1
  4. Luke 4:18–19 quoting Isaiah 61:1–2.  
  5. Matthew 4:13–16 quoting Isaiah 8:22–9:2. 
  6. Matthew 21:5 quoting Zechariah 9:9
  7. John 12:38 quoting Isaiah 53:1
  8.  John 19:24 quoting  Psalm 22:18
  9. Matthew 27:46  quoting  Psalm 22:1

NOTE THAT THE NASB HELPS IDENTIFY OT PROPHECIES BY PUTTING THE PROPHECY IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, A FEATURE NOT FOUND IN ANY OTHER POPULAR TRANSLATION. 

(2) Literal prophecy plus typical fulfillment - a typology -  

Matthew 2:15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.”

Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son. 

In this OT passage from Hosea, the literal meaning of Hosea 11:1 is describing ISRAEL being called out of Egypt. It is calling Israel God’s son. Look at Exodus 4:22-23. It is not a prophecy per se, but a historical event which foreshadows a future event. In this passage the calling of Israel out of Egypt is used as a TYPE, or parallel, or similar event, to God bringing Jesus out of Egypt.

(3) Literal prophecy plus application

Matthew 2:17-18 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:  18“A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.” 

Jeremiah 31:15  (Thus says the LORD, “A voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.” 

In this type of usage of Old Testament Scripture, there is one point of similarity, but also many differences. Matthew 2:17-18 uses Jeremiah 31:15 which in the original context is Jeremiah witnessing an event in his day as he sees the women of Ramah, where Rachel (the symbol of Jewish motherhood) was buried, crying as they see their sons being taken to exile in Babylon. They would never see them again. The events of Jeremiah have a point of similarity with the events in Bethlehem, since the Jewish mothers are weeping for sons they will never see again. However Ramah and Bethlehem are different towns, and the Babylonian exiles weren’t going to their death as were the infants of Bethlehem. Everything is radically different except the mothers weeping.

This is what many pastors use in sermons today. They take a scripture and make a modern application from a single point of similarity.

(4) Summation - a summary

Matthew 2:23.and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

There is no exact quotation or prophecy, but when the word prophet switches from singular to plural, it is a summation. “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets” is a clue, when prophet becomes prophets, plural insead of singular, you are getting a summary. If you search the Old Testament for a mention of Nazareth, the only remote similarity in the is Isaiah 11:1, which calls Messiah a Netzer, which means branch, and sounds similar to Nazareth. However, the point that Matthew is making is that Jesus would be despised and rejected of men, as the Nazarenes were despised in their culture. Isaiah 53:3 and other scriptures foretell this. “He was despised and forsaken of men.” Other scriptures are: Isaiah 49;7, Psalm 22:6. “As spoken by the prophets” refers to prophecies such as these.

PP - Pardes

The rabbinic concept of PaRDeS is an acronym for the four ways in which Scripture was used. It was a useful acronym to remind them of the four ways that Old Testament Scripture could be utilized.
  • Pshat - the simple basic meaning of the text. Literal plus literal
  • Remez - a hint. Literal plus typical
  • Drash - exposition. Literal plus application
  • Sod - secret. Summation

In summary, this was the rabbinic way of remembering valid ways to quote Old Testament Scripture. These four categories were used by the writers of the New Testament, as shown by the examples in these passages. If one does not understand the ways in which Scripture is being used, one can mistakenly conclude that Scripture is in error.

 

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