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BIBLE STUDY on the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
All of this is a historical record that took place, but behind it there is a tremendous Truth being presented, and we do NOT want to miss it. Each Gospel was directed to a particular group of people and Matthew was written to the nation of Israel. Recorded here is the fulfillment of some prophecies. To show how these Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled at the birth of Jesus is the purpose of this chapter. I am sure there were many sincere students of the Scriptures living in Christ's day who wondered how all of these prophecies could be fulfilled. It seemed difficult, if not impossible. Consider the following: #1. He was to be born in Bethlehem (Mic.5:2), #2. He was to be called out of Egypt (Hos.11:1), #3. There was to be weeping in Ramah (Jer.31:15), #4. He was a root from the stem of Jesse and would to be called a Nazarene (Isa.11:1).
Since Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, why would there be weeping in Ramah, which is about as far north of Jerusalem as Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem? And why was He to be called a Nazarene although He would be born in Bethlehem? And why was He called out of Egypt? HOW could all of these prophecies be fulfilled in one tiny, little baby? Matthew shows all this, accurately, literally and easily. All prophecy was fulfilled, exactly as God said it would happen.
In today’s time, there are certain prophecies that speak about to the Second Coming of Christ, that multitudes find difficult to see HOW they can all be fulfilled. It is my humble opinion we are VERY near the time of their fulfillment, and we shall find out that it will all will take place exactly as God said it would. Every little piece in what may seem to us as a jigsaw puzzle, will fall into place, and the world will wonder why they did not see it at the time.
1 Thes. 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (KJV)
1 Thes. 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (KJV)
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (KJV)
. . . For all those who love the Lord Jesus, I pray that you are truly “Looking for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” It is my opinion that the Rapture is the next scheduled event on God’s calendar.
Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (KJV)
The Visit Of The Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12)
Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, (KJV)
Now when Jesus was born . . . several things are here connected to the birth of Christ, as the place where He was born.
In Bethlehem of Judea. . .so called to distinguish it from another Bethlehem in the tribe of Zabulon (Josh.19:15). Here Christ was to be born according to a prophecy hereafter mentioned, and accordingly the Jews expected he would be born here (Mic.5:2; Lk.2:4; Jn.7:42), and so Jesus was born here, and this the Jews themselves acknowledge. Bethlehem is about five miles south west of Jerusalem, a little to the east of the road to Hebron. It occupies part of the summit and sides of a narrow limestone ridge which shoots out eastward from the central chains of the Judean mountains, and breaks down abruptly into deep valleys on the north, south, and east. Its old name, Ephrath, meant "the fruitful". It was the home of Boaz and Ruth, and Jesse and David.
In the days of Herod the king . . . the events of chapter 2 probably took place some months after Jesus' birth. Several things support this conclusion: #1. Joseph and Mary were living in a house (verse 11), #2. Jesus is referred to as a child, not an infant (verse 11), #3. Herod murdered all the male children two years old and under (verse 16), and #4. it would have been strange for Joseph and Mary to offer the sacrifice of the poor, a pair of turtledoves or pigeons (Lev.12:8; Lk.2:24), if the wise men had just given them gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The wise men must have arrived after the ritual sacrifice described in Luke 2:22-24,39. Herod the king is Herod the Great, who reigned over Palestine from 37 b.c. until his death in 4 b.c. he was a very shrewd ruler and lavish builder, Herod’s reign was marked by cruelty and bloodshed.
The word translated wise men can refer either to fraudulent sorcerers (Acts 8:9,11; 13:6,8), or, as here, to an honorable class of astrologers.
Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem . . . these came from the east . . .
not from Chaldea, as some have thought, led here by the multitude of astrologers, magicians, and soothsayers, which were among that people (Dan 2:2,10,27). Chaldea was not east, but north of Judea, as appears from (Jer.1:14-15, 4:6; 6:22; 10:22; 25:9). Others have thought they came from Arabia, and particularly Sheba (Ps.72:10,15). But though some part of Arabia lay to the east, yet Sheba was south of the land of Israel, as is evident from the queen of that place being called the "queen of the south" (Mat.12:42).
The more accepted opinion seems to be most right, that they came from Persia, which as it lies east of Judea, and was famous for this sort of men. The place where they came to was Jerusalem, where they might presume the king of the Jews was born. The time of their coming was, "when Jesus was born"; NOT as soon as He was born, or on the "thirteenth" day after his birth, or within the 40 days before Mary's Purification; since this amount of time is not sufficient for so long a journey, nor is it likely if they came so soon as this, after such a stir at Jerusalem, when Herod's diligent search and inquiry concerning the Child. Also, immediately after the departure of the wise men, Joseph with his wife and child were ordered into Egypt, which could not be done before Mary's Purification. It is supposed that their coming was near about two years AFTER the birth of Christ; since it is afterwards observed, that "Herod sent 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 inquired of the wise men", (verse 16). So, the nativity scenes set up are wrong.
Matthew 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (KJV)
Saying, where is he that is born king of the Jews? . . . born King of the Jews . . . these words struck fury and terror into the heart of Herod. These words were spoken to find the answer to WHERE He was. The wise men had no doubt of His being born, of this they were sure, nor did they hesitate in saying that He was “king of the Jews” who was born. They only inquired as to where He was, in what city, town, village, house, or family. The reason of their asking this question is . . .
For we have seen his star in the east . . . His star in the East may possibly refer to a supernatural star in the heavens, visible only to students of the sky. The star reappeared to guide the wise men to where Christ was (verse 9). The fact that it was called “His star” signifies that the wise men identified the star with the arrival of the King of the Jews. Some say that His star was a bright comet with a silver beard, which was so bright and dazzling that it could hardly be looked upon, showing in itself the effigy of God in human form.
And are come to worship him . . . this was reason by the wise men in taking such a journey.
Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (KJV)
When Herod the king had heard these things . . . had heard of their coming, and of the star, and of the plan of their coming.
He was troubled . . . Herod had obtained the kingdom by horrible crimes, and by shedding much blood. Because of this, he was easily upset by any remarkable appearances, and the fact that this star appeared, and that it was regarded as proof that the King of the Jews was born, really worried him. Also, it was a common expectation that the Messiah was about to appear, and he was afraid that his reign was about to come to an end.
And all Jerusalem with him . . . the people of Jerusalem, and especially the friends of Herod were also troubled. There were many waiting for the Consolation of Israel (Lk.2:25), to whom the Coming of the Messiah would be a matter of great joy; but Herod's friends would doubtless be at the appearance of the unusual star, and of the birth of the king of the Jews, and alarmed at His Coming.
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. (KJV)
And when he had gathered all the chief priests . . . this is an account of Herod's conduct at this point; he calls a council, assembles the Sanhedrim, gathers together the more learned persons in the city to consult with them upon this matter. The chief priests here are meant not only to be the high priest and his deputy, but also the heads or chiefs of the twenty-four classes into which David had divided the sacerdotal families (1 Chron.23:6; 24:1; 2 Chron.8:14).
And scribes together of the people together. . . the scribes in the New Testament are well educated men, men skilled in the law, and members of the great council. They were probably the lawyers of the nation, who kept the records of the court of justice, the registers of the synagogues, wrote their articles of contracts and sales, their divorce decrees (Mat.22:35), and doctors of the law (Lk.5:17). They were called scribes because they wrote the public records. They were not a religious sect, and could be either Pharisees or Sadducees. By the chief priests and scribes mentioned, means the Sanhedrim, or great council of the nation. Sanhedrin means "a sitting together," or a "council." This word "council," is often used in the New Testament (Mat.5:22; 26:59; Mk.15:1), to mean the supreme judicial and administrative council of the Jews, which was first instituted by Moses, and was composed of 70 men (Num.11:16-17). So the Sanhedrin is said to have consisted of 71 members, the high priest being president. On this occasion with the wise men, Herod, in panic, called them together, to question them about the birth of the Messiah. Gathered together: (Ps.2:2).
He demanded of them where Christ should be born . . . because these highly educated Jews would know the Scriptures, Herod demanded an answer from them. Since they were the most learned men of the nation, and it was their business to study and explain the Old Testament, they were supposed to know what the prophecies were on the birth of the Messiah. Herod’s purpose was to determine from prophecy where He was to be born, so he might strike an effective blow. It seems that Herod had no doubt about the time when He should be born. He was satisfied that the time had come.
Matthew 2:5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, (KJV)
And they said unto him . . . they answer Herod without any hesitation, it being a generally accepted belief, and a thing well known among them.
In Bethlehem of Judea . . . and they give the reason for their answer to him.
Thus it is written by the prophet . . . meaning the prophecy of Micah (Mic.5:2).
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. (KJV)
Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (KJV)
There are those who say these Passages contradict each other. I think this is utter nit-picking!
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda . . . this is to distinguish it from the Bethlehem, in the tribe of Zebulon (Josh.19:15). This prophecy, which the chief priests and scribes declared, as pointing to the place of Christ's birth, is held by both ancient and later Jews to be a prophecy of the Messiah. The difference between Micah and Matthew is easily reconciled. Bethlehem is called by Micah, Bethlehem Ephratah, and by Matthew, Bethlehem in the land of Juda . . . both are one and the same place.
Art not the least among the princes of Juda . . . Matthew reads: “art not the least among the princes of Juda” . . . princes meaning governor, ruler. Micah reads: “though thou be little” meaning Bethlehem was a little bitty town
For out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel . . . Matthew’s words . . . Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel . . . Micah’s words . . . out of this little insignificant town shall come One Who shall rule Israel. Jesus would NOT be born in big, fancy city. He was born in a tiny little town . . . and out of tiny Bethlehem would come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. He would be the Ruler of Israel! Little Bethlehem of Juda would not be just a lowly little town in Judah, for a Ruler shall come from her a Shepherd for the people of Israel.
Matthew says: “among the princes of Juda . . . Micah says: “among the thousands of Juda . . . there is good reason to believe that each tribe of Israel was divided into small parts called thousands. Thousands, hundreds, Tribes broken into parts: (Ex.18:25; Num.1:16; 10:4; 31:5,14,48,52,54; Deut.1:15; 33:17; Josh.22:14,21,30; 1 Sam.10:19; 22:7; 23:23; 29:2; 2 Sam.18:1,4; 1 Chron.12:20; 12:1; 15:25; 29:6; 2 Chron.1:2; Mic.5:2).
Matthew 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. (KJV)
Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men . . . as soon as Herod knew the place of the Messiah's birth, he ordered the wise men to be brought into his presence, privately, showing his hypocrisy and deceit.
Inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared . . . he went to great pains in questioning them about the accuracy, exactness and precise time of the star's appearing to them. He wanted to know when it was first seen by them, so that he might know the age of Christ, to better execute the bloody plan he had in mind.
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. (KJV)
And he sent them to Bethlehem . . . when he got all the information from them, he told them to go to Bethlehem, about five or six miles from Jerusalem.
Go and search diligently for the young child . . . he dismissed them giving them these orders, go to Bethlehem, the place of His birth that I have told you of, and inquire and search every house and family until you have found Him.
And when you have found him bring me word again . . . bring me the news about Him,
who His parents are and where He lives.
That I may come and worship him also . . . an outright, utter lie! Since they had told Herod that they wanted to worship Him, Herod said this hypocritically, in order to hide and cover his murderous intentions.
Matthew 2:9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. (KJV)
When they had heard the king . . . they paid careful attention to what Herod had told them of the birth place of the young child, and the strict charge he had given them to search diligently for him, and then return to him with an account of their findings. They thought he was sincere about his expressions of respect to the new born Prince.
They departed . . . left Herod and started to Bethlehem.
And lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them . . . to their great surprise and joy, the star re-appeared. It seems that for some time, it had disappeared, being seen only at the time of Christ's Birth and when they were in their own country, for both here, and in (Mat.2:2), they are said only to have seen it "in the east". They had had no sight of it, not while they were on their journey, nor at Jerusalem. It seems that when they saw it in their own country, it was over the land of Judea, and they were convinced that it was a certain sign that the King of the Jews was born, so they had decided to make the journey to Jerusalem, the big city of the nation. This star appears to them, which is something very extraordinary . . ..a miracle, my friends!
Till it came, and stood over, where the young child was . . . it seems that this star must have been moving, keeping pace with them, guiding them, until they came to the place where Christ Jesus was. Then it stood directly above the house, so there was no need to ask anyone where He was. It is certain from all this, that this star was indeed an extremely unusual one, seeing that it was seen in the daytime, its moving with them, then standing still over the house where Jesus was! A common, ordinary star would not have been any help whatsoever in finding the right child. For planets to stand over any place, they must be in the zenith and have an altitude of 90 degrees. This star could not have been a conjunction of planets, for their altitude at Bethlehem is 57 degrees, and seen that this angle they would have led the wise men into Africa. The wise men were chosen with this special revelation as to the Babe and the star. That temporary star faded away, but the Sun of Righteousness (Mal.4:2) which took its place in the spiritual firmament shines on, and shall shine for ever.
Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (KJV)
When they saw the star . . . by its appearance, size and brightness they knew it was the same with that they had seen, when in their own country.
They rejoiced with exceeding great joy . . . the joy they felt when they saw the star could not be put into words. Exceeding joy: (Ps.21:6; 43:4; 2 Cor.7:4; 1 Pet.4:13; Jude 1:24). The return of the star assured them that God would lead them safely and surely to the King. The star enabled them to find Jesus without asking questions, and bringing public attention to him that would aid Herod in preventing His escape. Some say that since the wise men were guided by a star, they were forced to enter Bethlehem at night, and this added to the privacy of their coming and the safety of Jesus. I do not know if it was day or night, but I do know “With God all things are possible” (Mat.19:26; Mk.10:27).
Matthew 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (KJV)
And when they were come into the house . . . they had NO doubt that this was the right place.
They saw the young child with Mary his mother . . . NOT the stable where the Lord was born, but a house. Many think that Joseph and Mary stayed at Bethlehem until the forty days of purification were passed; that the young child was presented in the temple as recorded in Luke 2:22, and that they then returned to Bethlehem; were visited shortly after by the wise men. If this is correct, the young child must have been six or seven weeks old at the time of the visit. Others say that the Child could have been about 2 years old when the wise men came. When they saw the young child . . .
They fell down, and worshipped him . . . on their knees or faces to the ground, agreeing with the custom of the Persians.
And when they had opened their treasures . . . their purses, bags or boxes, in which they put those things they brought with them.
They presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh . . . not only the Persians, but other eastern nations, made presents to kings and great persons (Gen.43:11; 1 Ki.10:2), which usually, among other things, consisted of gold, spices, myrrh. A prophecy of the Messiah, has been thought by some to have had its fulfillment (Isa.60:6). Frankincense . . . is a white resin or gum obtained by slitting the bark of the Arbor thuris tree. The best is said to come from Persia. It is also a product of Arabia. It is very fragrant when burned. Myrrh . . . It is also obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. The tree is similar to the acacia. It grows from eight to ten feet high, and is thorny. It is found in Egypt, Arabia, and Abyssinia. "Myrrh" means bitterness. The gum was chiefly used in embalming dead bodies, as it prevented putrefaction. It was also used in ointments, and for perfume; and as a medicine that relieves pain, it was sometimes added to wine.
Matthew 2:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (KJV)
Being warned of God in a dream . . . it is highly unlikely that they spent a long time there. After they had paid their respects to Him that was born King of the Jews, and completed what they came to do, they rested for the night, and in a dream they received a divine revelation, and were warned and counseled by God.
That they should not return to Herod . . . although Herod had demanded their return, they obeyed the instructions in the dream, and did not go back through Jerusalem. As to whether they had promised him they would, is not certain.
They departed into their own country another way . . . we know nothing of these men after this incident. Were they spiritually enlightened into the knowledge of Christ? What kind of report did they make when they came into their own country? Nothing more is known.
The Flight Into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18)
Matthew 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. (KJV)
And when they were departed . . . as soon as the wise men were gone, possibly the same night or next morning.
Behold, the Angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream . . . it is very likely the same angel who appeared to him before (Mat.1:20).
Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother . . .the angel does NOT say take thy wife and son; for although Mary was rightly Joseph’s wife, Jesus was NOT rightly his son. The child is also mentioned BEFORE the mother, not only because of His divine nature and office . . . BUT . . . in addition, the fact was that He was also Mary’s God and Saviour (Lk.1:46-47).
And flee into Egypt . . . which was not too far from Judea, so it was a good place to flee to, for a long, hard journey would not have been appropriate to the mother and her young child. Also, Egypt was out of Herod's control, so he could not come there for Him, or have any power over them. In addition, a prophecy was to have its fulfillment (Hos.11:1). This is a wonderful prophecy because of its historical basis. Out of Egypt the son was called, which was the nation, Israel; and out of Egypt the Son was called, who was a Person, the Child, Jesus. Joseph took the young Child and the mother to Egypt and stayed there until God called Him out when it was safe.
And be thou there until I bring thee word . . . the angel told Joseph to stay there, until he told him otherwise, and gives the reason for his appearing to him in such a way, and giving such a command.
For Herod will seek the young child to destroy him . . . Herod the king, an evil minded man, revengeful, desperate and stubborn in whatever he did, "will seek" search frantically for "the young child" . . . Who was born King of the Jews, and which gave Herod much anxiety. He wanted NOT to worship Him, as he falsely told the wise men, what he wanted was to kill Him. Joseph and Mary experienced the conflicting joys and sorrows which characterize the lives of all who love Jesus (Mk.10:29-30).
Matthew 2:14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: (KJV)
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother . . . as soon as Joseph awoke from his sleep, he rose up and did as he was commanded. Joseph was very prompt in obeying the command of God; he took the young child and his mother . . .
By night . . . the same night Joseph left for Egypt. Some say that Jesus was about two years old.
And departed into Egypt . . . where in Egypt he went with them into is not certain.. Jesus was saved from Herod by the flight into Egypt. God always prefers the ordinary to the extraordinary means.
Matthew 2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. (KJV)
And was there until the death of Herod . . . the Child and His earthly parents stayed in Egypt until Herod died, which seems to have been just a short time; some think that
Jesus was only there three or four months. This was brought about . . .
That it might be fulfilled . . . literally.
Which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying . . . "when Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt" (Hos.11:1).
Out of Egypt have I called my son . . . Herod’s malice and rage was NOT fulfilled as to the murder of the Child Jesus.
Matthew 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. (KJV)
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked . . . after Herod waited enough time for the return of the wise men, and they did not return, he knew he was tricked by them.
Herod was exceeding wroth . . . partly because the wise men lied to him, but mainly because his plan did not work. Herod was furious.
And sent forth . . . Herod still had hopes that he could find the Child on his own. Herod, acting as an absolute and oppressive dictator, sent his officers and soldiers . . .
And slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under . . . this was a horrifying, brutal and barbarous action, and agrees with the character given to him, that he was "a bloody and deceitful man" (Ps.5:6). He ordered to be killed, "children" 2 years old and under, little ones who had done him no wrong, nor were capable of doing any, and whose parents had not done anything wrong to him . . . he slew the infants at Bethlehem, because this was the place of the Messiah's birth, the knowledge of which he had got from the chief priests and scribes; he slew all the male children, so there might not be possible of the young Child's escaping.
In all the coasts thereof . . . in ALL the territories of Bethlehem, in ALL the towns and villages around it, it is hard to tell how many little ones Herod killed in his rage.
From two years old and under. . .this was the age Herod supposed the newborn King to be.
According to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men . . . Herod was going by what the wise men said, of the appearing of the star to them, and when they concluded this great and famous King of the Jews was born (verse 7). This wicked, malicious murder of the infants could be backed by none other than the devil.
Matthew 2:17-18 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. (KJV)
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken . . . the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem was literally fulfilled by what had been predicted . . .
By Jeremy the prophet, saying . . . Jer. 31:15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. (KJV)
In Rama was there a voice heard . . . this prophecy belongs to the Babylon captivity, but also to the time of the Messiah. Rachel, Jacob's favorite wife, was the symbolic mother of the northern tribes, which were taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Rachel is pictured crying for the exiles at Ramah, a staging point of deportation. This verse describes the grief and sorrow of the mothers of Bethlehem as all the young male children were killed. The weeping was great, both in the Captivity and in the time of the Messiah. The Ramah mentioned here, was situated in the tribe of Benjamin, about six or seven miles from Jerusalem (Josh.18:25), near the place Rachel was buried (Gen.35:19). Rachel (Rahal), is portrayed as coming out of her grave, and mourning bitterly for the loss of her children. Matthew applies the words in verses 17 and 18, to the massacre of the children at Bethlehem, which was very suitable to that occasion.
Weeping for their children . . . the suffering and sorrow are signified by several words, "lamentation, weeping and great mourning" to express the injustice of it all.
Would not be comforted . . . they refused to hear anything that might be suggested to them for their relief.
Because they are not . . . their children were dead, no more to be enjoyed by them in this world. The picture of the ancient mother of the tribe, rising from her tomb to weep, and refusing to be comforted because her children were not around her, is very beautiful; and this image so strikingly portrayed the weeping in Bethlehem that Matthew adopts the words of the prophet, and says that they were here fulfilled. It was the fulfillment, not really of a prediction, but of certain "words" spoken by Jeremiah.
The Return To Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23)
Matthew 2:19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, (KJV)
But when Herod was dead . . . it seems that Herod died a few months after this ghastly calamity was done by him. One account of his miserable death is: he had a burning fever, with intolerable itching all over his body, and constant pains of colic. His feet swelled, he had inflammation in the lower part of his belly, he had putrefaction (decay, rotting) in his privy parts, which bred worms. He had great difficulty breathing, and convulsions in his whole body. He died in a very miserable way. Josephus wrote: "He had a fever, though not a raging fever, an intolerable itching of the whole skin, continuous pains in the intestines, tumors of the feet as in dropsy, inflamation of the abdomen, and gangrene of the privy parts." According to Josephus, Herod also suffered from asthma, limb convulsions, and foul breath. . . . Bottom line: Herod the Great died about 4 B.C. of a horrible, incurable disease.
Behold an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt . . . this was most likely the same angel who appeared in the same manner, and ordered him to go into Egypt, with the young child and his mother. Now, the angel brings him news of Herod’s death, and tells him to return to Israel. This reveals the ever watchful care and providence of God with His people (Ex.4:19), and the useful ministry of angels, concerning the preservation of the Child Jesus.
Matthew 2:20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. (KJV)
Saying, arise, and take the young child and his mother . . . again, the Child, Jesus is mentioned first (verse 13). Joseph carefully observed and obeyed the divine command of the angel, who had ordered him to stay in Egypt, until he brought him word what he should do, and where he should go. Joseph was in Egypt with Jesus and Mary, but it is essential that they go back to Israel.
And go into the land of Israel . . . the angel does not tell Joseph to go to Bethlehem or Nazareth, or any place in particular, just the land of Israel, where he could now go to any part without fear, and gives this reason for it . . .
For they are dead which sought the young child's life . . . “they” is a common expression in most languages where only one is meant, who here is meant Herod. The words are taken from the remarkably similar case. Ex. 4:19 And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. (KJV) . . . This may have been why the angel suggested the plural here. The command is given to Moses to return to Egypt for the same reason that the greater than Moses (Deut.18:18), was now ordered to be brought back from Egypt. The death of him who sought his life (the Child) was dead.
Matthew 2:21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. (KJV)
And he arose and took the young child and his mother . . . Joseph obeyed the orders exactly as they were given to him . . . in regard to the persons he took, the place he went to, and the prompt way of doing it. This surely is a good thing for us to consider in our lives. Always be in a cheerful mood, ready and willing to obey the commands of God. We should also consider Mary in all of this. She must trust Joseph completely as her husband, for she needed someone to take care of her and her young Child, she must trust him to preserve, protect and provide for them, and he certainly did this with the guidance of the angel sent by Almighty God.
And came into the land of Israel . . . the length of his sojourn in Egypt is not certain. It is estimated differently by many, from two weeks to more than seven months. No one knows for sure.
Matthew 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: (KJV)
But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Hero . . . Archelaus was the son of Herod the Great, by Malthace, a Samaritan woman. He was educated along with his brother Antipas at Rome. He inherited a third part of Herod’s kingdom from his father. It was for fear of him that Joseph turned aside on their way back from Egypt. This man was like his father, a very cruel wicked man; as he ordered his troops to slay at the feast of the Passover, in the temple of the Lord, "nine thousand persons", although possibly Josephus's account is truest, who says that he sent in his whole army upon the people, who had raised a sedition, and slew, whilst they were sacrificing, about "three thousand". Archelaus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_Archelaus
This happened at the beginning of his reign, before he had scarcely risen to the throne. It could have been that this news might have reached Joseph, and be the reason why . . .
He was afraid to go thither . . . into Judea, where Archelaus reigned.
Notwithstanding being warned of God in a dream . . . God never failed to advise Joseph when there was trouble ahead. He did not go back again to Egypt, but . . .
Turned aside into the parts of Galilee . . . where Herod Antipas, another of Herod's sons, was tetrarch or governor; who was a milder person, and not as cruel and tyrannical as Archelaus, and Galilee was an obscure place, where, Joseph thought that he might live with Mary and the Child unobserved, and free from danger. Joseph's obedience shows him a fit person for the monumental charge entrusted to him.
Matthew 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. (KJV)
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth . . . this was a city of Galilee, and where Joseph and Mary had both dwelt before (Lk.1:26; 2:4), they came and now and made this their home.
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet . . . it had to be done this way, to fulfill what had been foretold by the prophet. The word "Nazarene" carries with it a suggestion to those prophecies which speak of Christ as "despised of men" (Isa.53:3). Although some think that in this name “Nazarene”, there is an hint to the Hebrew which means a branch or sprout (Isa.11:1,10). The followers of Christ were called "the sect of Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5).
He shall be called a Nazarene . . . "a branch shall grow out of his roots", a prophecy agreed by the Jews to belong to the Messiah, and which was now fulfilled in Jesus, for He was descended from Jesse's family, and so by dwelling at Nazareth, He would be "called a Nazarene" . . . being an inhabitant of Nazareth. Jesus, although in truth was born in Bethlehem (a Bethlehemite), bore the name “Nazarene” because it rightly expressed the utter contempt of those who despised and rejected Him (Jn.1:45-46).
Gospel of Matthew
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