Matthew 2:1-12 – The Birth of Jesus According to Matthew. The Real Christmas Part 2

The Wise Men and King Herod

1 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,
2 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.”
Comment: Now when Matthews says ” Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king“, the word “after” includes all that Luke told us in Luke 2:1-42.  The wise men also called the “magi” were from Persia or Arabia. In Daniel 2:47, the magi consisted of enchanters, magicians and astrologers. These are the people over whom Daniel was placed in charge according
to Daniel 2:48. Obviously, these wise men who are mentioned here are the descendants of those of the time of Daniel. Matthew tells that these wise men, who came from the east, came to Jerusalem during the days of Herod the King after Jesus was born. Please note that Matthew never says that there were three wise men as we all have been made to believe. Matthew never tells us how many wise men were there. The wise men came to ask where is he who has been born king of the Jews. Why would the wise men ask this? Since they were not Jews, how would they have known about a king of the Jews that has been born? The wise men continued and said that they had seen His star when it rose and have also come to worship him. Again why? They are not Jews, why are they coming to worship a King of the Jews?

Well, to find our answer, we should go back to the book of Daniel as indicated above. In Daniel 2:47, Daniel was made Chief Prefect over all the wise men and knowing Daniel, he must have taught them Old Testament and in the Old testament in Num 24:17-19, we find Balaam’s prophecy that indicated that in the future, a star shall come out of Jacob, meaning Jacob’s  descendants, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel, meaning that a sovereign ruler or king shall rise. So, having being taught by Daniel about the law, some of these wise men must have  converted to Judaism and also waited for the promised Christ who according to scripture, will be born in Betlehem of Judea. Now, being astrologers, these wise men, studied the stars and must have somehow based on Daniel’s teaching knew that this specific one, was for the promised King. Those wise men that were originally taught by Daniel passed down the teachings to younger generations until these current wise men. This is therefore the reason why these wise men came following a star to Jerusalem to come and worship a king that was born. So these wise men asked where is he who has been born King of the Jews as they saw His star when it rose.
Message: The wise men waited a very long time for this specific star that signaled the birth of a King. They waited patiently and when it appeared, they wasted no time to go and worship the new born King. They traveled for days and never gave up.
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;
Comment: Herod was troubled and at face value, one can assume that it is because these wise men referred to the child as a king of the Jews. Since he was the current king, that should trouble him but, it was far more than that in my view.  In Acts 26:26-28, Paul insists to King Agrippa then that he knows about the prophecies. Now, this and knowing that Jews would not be silent regarding their religion, they would have also made sure that the King understood their religion and respected it. Given this, Herod must have known about the king that must be born prophecy and even worse, he must have known about Balaam’s prophecy in Num 24:18 that when the king rises out of Israel, Edom shall be dispossessed and also his enemies as well. Now Herod was from Edom, he was an Idumean! That must have worried him to the bone knowing what is coming. That explains why Herod was troubled but why was Jerusalem troubled? Well, firstly if the king is troubled especially the one like Herod, then all should be worried. Secondly, seeing these wise men that resembled the kind of people that had enslaved them from such a long time, that also might have stirred concerns.
4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘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.’”
Comment: Another thing that confirms in my mind that Herod knew about these prophecies is that, when he calls the chief priests and scribes, he does not ask them what this story is about a king of the Jews that must be born but, rather he asked them where. His main concern was not to know more about the king because he knew about him but, he wanted to know where. Nothing tells us that he was even surprised to hear the news of the king. They must have already told him as a king, as Paul expected King Agrippa to know. The chief priests and the scribes told him that the king was to be born in Betlehem of Judea, for so it was written by the prophets and then Matthew quotes Micah 5:2. Matthew highlights very clearly that the birth of Jesus  was not only prophesied but even the birthplace was prophesied and indeed as verse 1 indicates, Jesus was indeed born in Betlehem of Judea. To a Jewish reader who will be reading Matthews gospel, he would be able to link Jesus with the prophecy in Mic 5:2.
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared.
8 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.”
9 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.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
11 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.
12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Comment:  Herod then summoned the wise men secretly and find out from them what time the star appeared. Now, this might at face value seem pointless, but later on, you will see how Herod is able to use this information. Herod then bid them farewell and asked them to search for the child and on finding him, they must come and tell him, so that he can also come and worship him. This was a lie as we will see later on. Herod had no intention of worshipping the child. When they got out, they saw the star again and were overwhelmed by joy. This tells me that when they got to Jerusalem, they could not see the star anymore. They got to the house where Mary and Jesus was, fell down and worshipped him. They even offered gifts. Having been warned in a dream, they did not return to Herod but used another way. Again we will see that the star disappearing over Jerusalem and the wise men meeting Herod was not a coincidence but it was God’s providence so that prophecies must be fulfilled.

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Posted in Gospel of Matthews, Matthew 2, The Birth of Jesus.

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