The Book of Matthew-Chapter 2

(1) Now after Yeshua was born in Bethlehem (meaning “house of bread”-actually he was born just outside of the city, at a place called Migdal Eder-Mic 4.8- meaning “tower of the flock”-a valley where Temple sheep were raised, it was only 4 miles from the Temple-Mishnah Shekalim 7.4. This was at the festival of Sukkot in the fall of the year. The shepherds were priests who raised these sheep for sacrifice-Luke 2.8) of Judea (not the Bethlehem in Zebulon-Josh 19.15-20) in the days of Herod the king, behold magi (Jewish scholars, part of the wise, learned class) from the east (Babylon-Gen 29.1; Judges 6.3; Ezek 25.4-where the largest Jewish population still lived even after they returned from Babylonian captivity. The famous Rabbi Hillel, the grandfather of Paul’s teacher Gamaliel, came from there) arrived in Jerusalem (the place where they expected to find the king) saying, (2) “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star (this word can mean “radiance”-Edersheim. A star does not fit the context because it moved and it wasn’t seen by everyone. This was a special manifestation of the Kivod, the glory, of God. A “star” or radiance was a “sign” of the Messiah-Num 24.17. A false messiah during the third Jewish revolt around 132 AD was called “Bar Kochba” or “son of the star” relating to this prophecy) in the east (while they were in the east) and have come to worship him.” (3) And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him (Herod was a ruthless despot, and they feared him and what he might do to save his throne because of his anger). (4) And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began to inquire of them where Messiah was to be born (from the Scriptures). (5) And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet (Micah), (6) ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler, who will shepherd my people Israel (Matthew quotes the Targum Ben Uzziel and what he says here combines elements of Gen 49 and Micah 5 into a paraphrase. Many quotes in the New Testament are from the Targumim or Midrashim).” (7) Then` Herod secretly called the magi (Jewish scholars) and ascertained from them the time the star (radiance) appeared (notice that Herod didn’t know anything about the radiance because he didn’t see it, and Migdal Eder was only 4 miles away. Even his spies didn’t know anything about it). (8) And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and make careful search for the child; and when you have found him, report to me, that I too may come and worship him.” (9) And having heard the king, they went on their way (why didn’t the religious experts go also? It was because they didn’t care, but this was by God’s design so that the family could get away later); and lo, the star which they had seen in the east (Babylon) went on (it moved) before them (like a guide), until it came and stood over where the child was (like the pillar of cloud in the wilderness). (10) And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy (the festival of Sukkot has these themes). (11) And they came into the house (they had moved him from the stable, or “sukkah”-Gen 33.17-into a house that night) and saw the child with Miriam his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him; opening their treasures they presented to him gifts of gold (speaks of deity/kingship) and frankincense (speaks of the priesthood) and myrrh (speaks of his burial and preservation. In Gen 49.10 the Messiah is called “Shiloh” which means “a gift to him.”). (12) And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way (instead of going back north, they went south to Beersheba, cut through the Shephelah Valley to the Via Maris, the way of the sea. They then cut back through Galilee to Damascus and then to Babylon). (13) Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying “Arise and take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt (a Roman province and free from Herod) and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” (14) And he arose and took the child and his mother by night (this was the same night he was born, probably Tishri 15, the first day of Sukkot. This “night flight” parallels Israel’s flight in Deut 16.1) and departed for Egypt; (15) and was there until the death of Herod (within 40 days of Yeshua’s birth because Miriam presents him in the Temple to fulfill Lev 12.1-4), that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet (Hosea 11.1) might be fulfilled (given meaning, confirmed), saying, “Out of Egypt did I call my son (this is an example of the level of interpretation called “remez” that hints to another meaning for this verse that obviously applies to Israel in the peshat. Matthew applies the allegorical sense, or remez).” (16) Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs from 2 years old and under (in Israel you were 1 year old at birth, so actually he killed those 1 year old and younger to make sure), according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi. (17) Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled (given meaning, confirmed) saying (18) “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel (represents all the weeping mothers in Israel) weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” (another example of a “remez” interpretation. This verse is talking about those victims of the Babylonian captivity who were marched past Rachel’s grave in Bethlehem on their way to Babylon-Gen 35.19-but it is applied to Messiah in this case. There is no mention of this incident in Jewish history because it was a small thing compared to the other atrocities Herod committed. For instance, Herod had an elder from every family locked up in the Hippodrome in Jerusalem. When Herod died, they were to be killed so that the people would appear to be grieving his death. But, it was never carried out. Herod even killed his own family. Compared to all he did, this was small in comparison, or “not front page news”). (19) But when Herod was dead (Josephus, Book 18, Ch 4 says it was in September, 4 BC), behold, and angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, (20) “Arise and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel (not specifically told where to go), for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” (21) And he arose and took the child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel (like Abraham). (22) But when he heard that Archelaus (he was a son of Herod and just as cruel) was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, he departed for the regions of Galilee, (23) and came and resided in a city called Nazareth (Hebrew “na’tzeret” meaning “branch”. Messiah is called the “branch” in Isa 11.1; Jer 23.5-6; Jer 33.15; Zech 6.12), that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled (given meaning, confirmed), “He shall be called a Nazarene (Hebrew “natzri”-there is no Scripture that says that the Messiah will be called a Nazarene. But, “Nazarene” was an idiom for “despised”, and even one of his disciples said, when he heard Yeshua was from Nazareth said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth”-John 1.46. It was an idiom for a despised one, as was being from Galilee (John 7.52) and because it was associated with the Messiah (Isa 49.7; Isa 53.3), “Nazarene” was synonymous with being despised, and the Talmud said that people from there were called “despised ones,” so that is what is meant here. Again, the “remez” level of interpretation is needed to interpret this verse correctly).”

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament, Verse-by-Verse Bible Studies

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