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When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and 3 all Jerusalem with him; and when he had gathered all the chief 4 priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them
age, but simply of obeisance or friends and adherents of Herod high respect. Marks of great rever would participate in his fear and ence were shown to kings, especial suspicion ; while his enemies might ly in the east. Prostration of the justly apprehend, what afterwards body upon the ground before sove took place, ver. 16, that the tyrant reigns, and the giving of the most would find on this occasion a precostly presents, were common signs text, however groundless, for some of homage. The wise men, re unheard-of atrocity. Or they might garding the young child as a can rejoice at the prospect of his downdidate for the Jewish throne, and fall, and exult in the hope of the heir to some remarkable destiny, speedy coming of the Messiah. followed the usual custom. The 4. We may infer the extent of word worship was formerly appli- his consternation from the active ed to the respect paid to man, as steps he took to calm it.-Chief well as the homage given to God, priests and scribes of the people. see 1 Chron. xxix. 20.
Probably a circumlocution for the 3. It does not appear that Herod Sanhedrim, or Jewish Senate, conhad as yet seen the wise men. By sisting of seventy persons. common report he heard of their members were chiefly priests and coming and object. Afterwards, Levites, including the high-priest, ver. 7, he sent to have an interview the ex-high-priests, and the chiefs with them.--He was troubled. Was of the twenty-four classes, into agitated. His fear was natural. which David had divided the saHe had laid the foundation of his cerdotal order. 1 Chron. xxiii. 6. throne in blood and crime, and Its jurisdiction was both civil and killed several of his own family. ecclesiastical. The scribes, elseHis outraged conscience made him where called lawyers and doctors uneasy, jealous, and fearful. Wick of the law, were men of learning, edness converts men into cowards, versed in the laws of Moses, and 6 but the righteous are bold as a the commentaries lion." Though far advanced in They kept the public records and years, his insatiate ambition also registers, drew up law documents led him to be anxious about the for the people, transcribed the sacontinuance of the government in cred books, and acted as religious his hands, and those of his succes teachers and interpreters.—He desor; for the Pharisees, according to manded, &c. As they uuderstood Josephus, had predicted the over the sacred books and made it their throw of Herod's reign, probably business to expound them, be naturin sanguine expectation of the ally referred to them for informacoming of their Messiah. If a le tion respecting the birth-place of gitimate heir to the throne was now the Messiab.- Where. This was born, he feared the kingdom would the important point with Herod. be taken out of his hands, for he He wished to know the exact place, was a foreigner and a usurper. that he might find the child and AU Jerusalem with him. i. e. The put it to death. Observe, too, that city generally was agitated. The the question indicates how strong
5 where Christ should be born. And they said unto him: In Bethle6 hem of Judea; for thus it is written by the prophet: “And thou
Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes
of Juda; for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my 7 people Israel.” Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise 8 men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared, 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, 9 that I may come and worship him also. 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 10 was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great 11 joy; 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 the expectation of the coming of “ that I also may come,” &c. He the Messiah was; though the hy- veiled his purpose under the mask pocritical king thought to falsify of hypocrisy. His conduct on this the sure word of prophecy, and occasion was in accordance with fighting against God, to destroy the his whole character, as drawn by infant Jesus.—Christ. Rather the Josephus and other ancient writers. Christ, or the Messiah.
9. Which they saw in the east. A 5. It was a current opinion, origi- different arrangement would be nated by the prophecies, that the better ;_" which they, in the east, Messiah would be born at Bethle- saw.” It was the custom of the hem. John vii. 42.-The prophet. old painters to represent Christ with Micah v. 2. The language is not luminous rays encircling his head; verbatim, but the essential ideas are derived perhaps from the circumconveyed. The Evangelist might stance of the star, standing over have quoted from memory. the place where the young child
6. Matthew only states that the was, or the glory which surrounded passage was adduced by the priests him at the Baptism, or on the and scribes as a proof that the Mount of Transfiguration. Messiah would be born at Bethle- 10. Their joy at finding their obhem.-Rule. The original is, feed ject indicates the value they attachand tend as a shepherd. Kingsed to it. were anciently called the shepherds 11. Fell down and worshipped. of their people.
Prostrated themselves and did obei7. Privily called. Jealousy loves sance, as they would to any royal to move in the dark.
Inquired dili- personage. There was no religious gently. Or, procured from them homage paid in the act.-- Preexact information. He probably sented. An oriental custom, still wished to ascertain the precise age
observed. Those who would pay of the child.
honor to kings, magistrates, and 8. Worship him also. Also should persons of high dignity, carry to be placed before may come, thus, them costly gifts. 2 Chron. ix. 1. gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God 12 in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appear- 13 eth to Joseph in a dream, saying: Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and fee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he 14 arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt; and was there until the death of Herod ; that it might be 15 fulfilled wbich was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying: “Out
Is. lx. 6.—Gold and frankincense free from Herod's jurisdiction. Its and myrrh. 2 Chron. ix. 14. These border was near, only about sixty were productions of Arabia and miles south-west from Bethlehem. other oriental countries. They Joseph and his family would find were timely aids to the not rich sympathy among their countrymen. Joseph, for his succeeding journey By the gifts of the wise men, they into a foreign land.-Frankincense. had been furnished with the means A valuable aromatic gum, used in of subsistence and comfort, while perfumes, sacrifices, and medicines. away from home and their customIt exudes from incisions made in ary occupations.—Herod will seek. a tree during the summer.--Myrrh. This prediction was afterwards fulA vegetable production of the gum filled. Joseph seems not to have or resin kind, of a bitter taste, em- been aware of any hostility to the ployed in anointing, perfuming, and child on Herod's part, until he was in embalming the dead. John xix. divinely acquainted with it. 39. It is noticeable that the same 14. By night. To conceal his substance which was given as a departure, and escape from danger birth present to Jesus was also pre- as soon as possible. There is no pared for his burial.
trustworthy history or tradition of 12. Should not return to Herod, the events that befel them during Else the life of Jesus would have their sojourn in Egypt. been taken, unless some other inter- 15. Death of Herod. Probably position had been made. The will their residence there was short, as of God could be communicated in a Herod is supposed to have died in dream as well as in any other way. the second year after Christ's birth.
13. Egypt. During their troubles See ver. 16.--Prophet. Hos. xi. 1. at hoine, the Jews had flocked in Hosea clearly refers here to the great numbers to that country, past history of the Israelites. He where they enjoyed toleration. utters no prediction. Matthew Thus, by a strange vicissitude in quotes his words by way of allusion human affairs, the land of their or accommodation, not as the acfathers' bondage became their asy- complishment of a prophecy, for lum of liberty, and the refuge of there was none. He says there was their endangered Messiah. Several a striking coincidence between circumstances combined to recom- God's calling the children of Israel, mend this country for the purpose and his son Jesus Christ, out of for which Joseph fled to it. It was Egypt.
16 of Egypt have I called my Son.” 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 there
of, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had 17 diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which 18 was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying: “In Rama was there a
voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning; Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because
16. Mocked. Was trifled with, he thought, the death of the disor deceived.--Exceeding wroth. An- tinguished child. gry beyond measure. Josephus 17. The grief of the mothers of describes him as a man of most un- Bethlehem, bereft of their infants, governable passions.--Slew all the reminds Matthew of a parallel poetchildren, &c. If this had been relat- ical scene in Jeremiah xxxi. 15. ed of any other man, it would have The description of the old prophet seemed incredible, but it accord- was fulfilled, or verified, or made ed with Herod's character. For he good. In this manner the New had put to death a brother-in-law, Testament writers not unfrequentone of his wives, and three of his ly quote from the Old. children, besides great numbers of 18. Rama. This was a city in the Jews at different times and un- the tribe of Benjainin, not far from der different pretexts. The slaugh- Bethlehem in Judah. As Rachel ter of the Innocents harmonized was the mother of Benjamin, she therefore with the diabolical charac- is introduced as most nearly conter of this man of blood. It is like- cerned in the calamities of her posly that only a small number suffered. terity. It is only by way of acThe masculine gender of the noun commodation, that this passage, in the original, and the circumstan- originally relating to what transpirces of the case indicate that none ed in the tribe of Benjamin, when but male infants were killed." Beth- the Israelites were carried into lehem was not a large village, and it captivity, is used to describe what has been conjectured that the num- took place in Judah in the days of ber of victims was somewhere be- Herod. There was great force and tween ten and fifty.-Coasts. Bor- beauty in the introduction of this ders, adjacent places.-Two years poetical figure, and it chimed exold and under. Herod thought in quisitely with the feelings and asthis way to insure the destruction sociations of the Jews, for whose of the helpless babe that had stirred special edification Matthew was up his fear and wrath. According writing: -Lanentation, and weepto the time, &c. Not that he had ing, and great mourning. As if to been making inquiries for two years express the abjectness of grief by of the Magians, or had thus long adding word to word. - Rachel awaited their return, but such as weeping for her children. The tears had entered upon the second year of the living were not enough to suffered together with those under bewail their disasters. Jeremiah that age, which would accord with calls to his assistance those of the the information he had derived departed, and particularly of Rafrom the wise men, and insure, as chel, whose tomb was in the route
they are not.” But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the 19 Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying: Arise, and 20 take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, 21 and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, in the 22 room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go
notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth ; that it 23 might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets: He shall be called a Nazarene.
along which they were led captive the chief foe of Jesus; or that both to Babylon, and who is represented Herod and his son Antipater, who as rising from the dead to bewail was heir apparent to the throne, the fate of her posterity. What
were dead. Jewish heart would not be thrilled 21. Young child. The residence by this allusion and quotation from in Egypt did not extend probably Jeremiah by the Evangelist !-Be beyond a few months. The land cause they are not.
This is one of Israel. This comprised not only among many instances of the touch
the dominions of Archelaus, but ing simplicity characteristic of the also Galilee and other provinces. Scriptures.
22. Archelaus. He succeeded to 19. Herod was dead. The tyrant, the throne by his father's will, and after a reign of forty years, died of received the confirmation of his a horrible, loathsome disease. It power from the Roman emperor, seemed as if the pains of all he had Augustus. He proved such a tykilled were concentrated in his own rant, that, being accused by the Jews person. Yet the ruling passion was to the emperor, he was banished, strong even in death; and a few after a reign of seven years, to Vidays before he expired he ordered enne in Gaul, where he died. He his son Antipater to be executed, turned aside. Not so, but he went and imprisoned the chiefs of the up, or went on, to Galilee; which Jewish nation, with the command, was under the jurisdiction of Herod which happily was not executed, Antipas. that they should all be destroyed, in 23. Nazareth. A small town in order that sincere grief might be lower Galilee, situated in a hilly felt at his funeral. His kingdom region; down one of the precipices was partitioned between his sons; of which its inhabitants endeavored Archelaus obtaining Judea, Sama to throw their townsman, Jesus ria, and Idumea; Antipas, Galilee Christ. Luke iv. 29. It is now a and Peræa; and Philip, Trachonitis, large village of three thousand inGaulonitis, and Batanea.
habitants, and contains a convent 20. They are dead. Either the and two churches.—The prophets. plural is here used, as is sometimes There is no place in the prophets the case, for the singular number, still extant, where this precise saywhich is the opinion of Winer, and ing occurs. The prophets, however, the idea is that Herod was dead, represented the coming One as a