Matthew 2

magi.jpgGreetings!  This passage will be familiar to many people – perhaps too familiar.  Try reading it like you are doing so for the first time.

As you may know, the number of Magi may have been three (as in We Three Kings) but the number is not stated.  The Magi may have been Jews whose families didn’t return from the exile in Babylon or they might have been Gentiles (non-Jews).  They were most likely very well educated and may have traveled with a large group of people.

There are various Herods mentioned in the Bible.  The historical fiction Pontius Pilate helped me sort them out.  This King Herod did some good things politically but was not a rightful king.  He lived in fear of someone taking over his throne and killed many people close to him. 

Matthew 2

The Visit of the Magi

 1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and 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.”

 3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When 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. 5“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
 6” ‘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.'”

The Bethlehem prophecy from hundreds of years before Jesus was born is one of dozens of fulfillments that occurred in the life of Jesus. 

 7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He 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.”

 9After 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. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On 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. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Angels’ roles include worshiping God, delivering messages and protecting people. 

The Escape to Egypt

 13When 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.” 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where 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.”

 16When 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. 17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
 18“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.”

This showed just how evil and paranoid Herod was.  Herod died a few years later and Rome broke his kingdom up into three parts, one for each of his sons.  Archelaus, mentioned below, was the son that slaughtered 3,000 people and was later removed by Rome. 

The Return to Nazareth

 19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and 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.”

 21So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22But 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, 23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

The Bible just gives highlights of their travels, but each of these journeys would have been arduous. 

What passages stood out to you, and why? 

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2 Responses

  1. Herod the Great was a non-Jew, an Idumean, who was appointed king of Judea by the Roman Senate in 40 B.C. and gained control in 37. Like most rulers of the day, he was ruthless, murdering his wife, three of his sons, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle and many others – not to mention the babies of Bethlehem (v. 16). His reign was also noted for splendor, as seen in the many theaters, amphitheaters, monuments, pagan altars, fortresses and other buildings he erected or refurbished – including the greatest work of all, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, begun in 20 B.C. and finished 68 years after his death.

    v. 11 – The three gifts given by the Wise Men were expensive and fit for a king. In its own way the gifts indicated who Jesus was and what He came to do for mankind. He is the King of Heaven, who humbled Himself and came to earth as man to live the life we were intended to live by God and die mankind’s deserved death.
    Myrrh is an aromatic gum and was sometimes mixed with wine and drunk to relieve pain. At the cross, Jesus was offered such a mixture. Frankincense and Myrrh were also used to adorn a body of an important person upon their death. Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and John annointed Jesus’ body with myrrh after He died. (John 19:39-40).

  2. Matthew 2:2…A star signaled Jesus’ birth. That’s awesome! It shows us the extend of power and control God has over all creation.

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