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the young child and his mother by saw that he was mocked of night, and departed into Egypt: the wise men, was exceeding
15 And was there until the wroth, and sent forth, and slew death of Herod, that it might all the children that were in be fulfilled which was spoken Bethlehem, and in all the coasts of the Lord by_the prophet, thereof, from two years old and saying, Out of Egypt have I under, according to the time called my son.
which he had diligently inquired 16 Then Herod, when he of the wise men.
15. Until the death of Herod. How the circumstances of the case, make it long the family remained in Egypt appear probable that it was only the cannot be precisely ascertained. It male children whom he ordered to be was, however, but a short time. Her- put to death. || The coasts thereof; od is believed to have died in the sec- the places bordering on Bethleond year of our Lord. || By the hem. prophet. Hosea 11 : 1. The prophet In respect to the number of infants in this passage merely makes a decla- put to death on this occasion, it is ration of God's kind dealings towards impossible to speak with certainty. the nation of Israel, whom he delivered Bethlehem was rather an inconsiderfrom bondage in Egypt, and whom as able town as to population, and the a nation he affectionately called his families bordering upon it were probason. But now that Jesus, who was in bly few. One of the modern travellers the highest sense his son, was by a states the present population at three divine monition conveyed to Egypt, hundred, and is inclined to think the the language which was formerly used population formerly did not much exin reference to the nation of Israel was ceed that number. But if we estimate to be verified, or fulfilled, in a higher it at one thousand, the number of male and more remarkable sense. That children of the ages mentioned would language was applicable to the case of doubtless fall short of fifty. Fifty is Jesus more fully and appropriately, so sometimes stated as the highest numthat the event which the evangelist ber; the number of ten, or twelve, is was relating, could be happily ex- frequently stated as the most probable. pressed in those same words. There But our judgment of Herod's conduct was, then, a striking resemblance be- must not be regulated so much by the tween the language of the prophet and number of children put to death, as this event in the history of Jesus; and by the nature of the act and the mothus this event might be regarded as tive which influenced him. This filling out that language. An exam act, cruel as it was, corresponded to ination of the passage in Hosea will other deeds of Herod. He put to show, that it is not a prophecy of this death a brother-in-law, one of his event in the life of Jesus; and the own wives, and three of his children; word fulfil is here used in the wide and when expecting his own death, sense in which we often employ it in he ordered that several principal men ordinary life. It points out the stri- of the Jewish nation, who were for king resemblance between language this purpose confined in Jericho, in the Old Testament and an event should be killed as soon as it should in the history of Jesus.
be known that he himself had died, 16. Mocked. The word mock now so that there might be mourning at means to mimic, to imitate in a way his death. This cruel order was not, of contempt. But in the Bible it means however, obeyed. Josephus, the Jewto treat disrespectfully, to trifle with. ish historian, in summing up Herod felt that he had been trifled character of Herod, says, " He was a with, deluded, and defeated. || All the man universally cruel, and of an un children. The original Greek, and governable anger.”
17 Then was fulfilled that 20 Saying, Arise, and take which was spoken by Jeremy the young child and his mother, the prophet, saying,
and go into the land of Israel : 18 In Rama was there a for they are dead which sought voice heard, lamentation, and the young child's life. weeping, and great mourning, 21 And he arose, and took Rachel weeping for her chil- the young child and his mother, dren, and would not be com- and came into the land of Isforted, because they are not. rael. 19 But when Herod
22 But when he heard that dead, behold, an angel of the Archelaus did reign in Judea Lord appeareth in a dream to in the room of his father Herod, Joseph in Egypt,
he was afraid to go thither : 17, 18. Jeremy; that is, Jeremiah. applicable, and still more fully verified, See Jer. 31: 15. ll Rama; the name on this occasion, than on the one to of a city a few miles north of Jeru- which it originally referred. Well salem. || Rachel ; one of Israel's might he feel that this heart-rending wives, and mother of Joseph and event did really fill up that lanBenjamin.
See Gen. 30: 22—24. guage. Rachel died and was buried not far 20. Land of Israel ; country of the from Ephrath (Gen. 35: 16–19), Jews. See on v. 6. || They are that is, Bethlehem. Bethlehem was dead. Herod's partisans doubtless about six miles south of Jerusalem, partook of his spirit in regard to any and Rama a few miles north. In the one who might be supposed able to passage quoted, the prophet poetically interfere with their honors. Others represents Rachel as sorely distressed besides Herod had died, from whom at the going away of her descendants evil might have been apprehended. into captivity; sympathizing with 22. Archelaus. Herod the Great them in their woes, she mingles her had, in his last will, appointed Arche: voice with theirs, and would not laus his successor in the government. admit consolation. The distress thus He, accordingly, on the death of Herpoetically described, Matthew repre- od, repaired to Rome, to procure from
as again endured by her, in Augustus, the emperor, a confirmation view of the calamities now expe- ) of the arrangement which his father rienced in Bethlehem. Those ca- | had made. But his brother Antipas lamities occasioned a general and disputed his title, since Herod had, in wide-spread mourning; the deep dis- a previous will, appointed him to be tress in the families of Bethlehem his successor. The result was, that could not better be described than | Archelaus was established in the govby, adopting the language of Jere- ernment of a part of his father's domiah, in reference to a preceding minions, namely, Judea, Idumea, state of calamity and mourning. which was partly in the south of JuThe distress, which fell so unexpect- dea, partly further south, and Samaria, edly, so unreasonably, so cruelly, three cities excepted, with the title of upon helpless babes and sorrowing ethnarch; Antipas, that is, Herod An. families, was of no ordinary charac- tipas, was constituted tetrarch of
And well might the evange- Galilee and Perea. Perea was the list, while recording this act of un- southern part of the country on the heard-of cruelty, summon to his east of the Jordan. Archelaus proved aid the strong poetic representa- to be a very cruel ruler, and after a tion of the prophet, and regard the few years was banished from his govprophet's language as still more ) ernment by Augustus. He died in
notwithstanding, being warned spoken by the prophets, He shall of God in a dream, he turned be called a Nazarene. aside into the parts of Galilee : 23 And he came and dwelt
CHAPTER III. in a city called Nazareth; that I those days came
John it might be fulfilled which was the Baptist, preaching in exile. || Galilee. The Jewish terri- filled in respect to the birthplace of tory on the west of the Jordan was Jesus. Verse 1 compared with v. 6. divided into three parts — Galilee on The fulfilment of prophecy is a strong the north, Samaria in the middle, and evidence of the divine inspiration of Judea at the south. Joseph retired the Scriptures. with his family to Galilee; for this 2. The Eastern Magi treated the inwas beyond the jurisdiction of Ar- fant Messiah with distinguished rechelaus.
spect. What reverence ought we to 23. Nazareth ; a town in the south- cherish towards him, having so suern part of Galilee, and the former perior knowledge of his character ! place of Mary's residence. See Luke 3. How vain it is to attempt defeat1: 26. || By the prophets, &c. The ing the purposes of God! v. 13. He expression which follows cannot be makes even the wrath of man to praise found in any of the books of the Old him. Compare Ps. 76 : 10. Testament. Nor does Matthew inti- 4. Notice the extreme cruelty to mate that any one prophet in partic- which a sinful heart may prompt. v. 16. ular had used this expression concern- Comp. Ex. 1:22. 2 Kings 8:11—15. ing the Messiah. He is rather to be 5. In every exigency, God will prounderstood as saying, that what he is vide for those who trust in him. vs. about to express accorded with pro- 11, 13, 22. phetic declarations respecting him. 6. What changes God effects ! În order fully to understand the evan- Egypt, from being the place of oppresgelist in this place, it should be con- sion to the Lord's people, becomes à sidered that Nazareth appears to have place of refuge and protection for the been regarded, by the people of Judea, infant Messiah from cruelties in his in a contemptuous manner. See John native land. 1:46. From John 7:52, it appears, that the whole district of Galilee, in
CHAPTER III. which Nazareth was situated, was 1. In those days. A new scene now viewed in
unfavorable light. opens before us. The evangelist, havHence, “ to be a Nazarene," was ing related what took place in the a phrase implying reproach. The early infancy of Jesus up to the time expressions Jesus of Galilee and Jesus of the family's becoming again estabof Nazareth, in Matt. 26 : 69, 71, were lished in Nazareth, passes over a very probably meant as terms of reproach. considerable period in the life of JeNow, it had been predicted that the sus. During that period, he lived in coming Saviour would be despised comparative obscurity, and was not and rejected of men.” See Is. 53 : occupied in matters pertaining to the 2, 3. Instead, then, of simply saying public discharge of his office as Meshe would be an object of reproach, siah. This period occupied a space Matthew uses an expression of the of between twenty-five and thirty same import, suggested by the cir- years. See Luke 3: 23. How Jesus cumstance of his abode being in Naz- was occupied during this time, we areth-he shall be called a Nazarene. are not informed. The only circum
stance particularly related, in regard Topics FOR REFLECTION suggested to this period, is his visit to Jerusalem by this chapter.
with his parents, at the age of twelve 1. Prophecy was remarkably ful- 1 years. See Luke 2: 41–51. There
the wilderness of Judea, the kingdom of heaven is at
2 And saying, Repent ye: for hand.
is also a general remark made by approach of the Messiah, and calling Luke (2:52), which shows that Jesus, on the people to prepare for his comwhile advancing in age, manifested ing, by a suitable reformation of much intellectual capacity and piety. heart and life. || The wilderness of From Matt. 13: 55, it would appear Judea. Judea was the southern part that Joseph, his reputed father, was, of Palestine, or the Holy Land. See by trade, a carpenter; and from Mark the Map. The term wilderness in 6: 3, that Jesus himself wrought at the Bible has not exactly the same the same occupation. His dignity meaning as that in which we use it consisted in innocence and holiness We express by it a region not yet of character, and in performing a work inhabited, perhaps uninhabitable by which should glorify God by bringing civilized men; occupied rather by countless multitudes to holiness and wild beasts than by civilized human happiness. This portion of his life, beings. In the Scriptures, this word, however, was by no means destitute as also the similar word desert, is apof an important bearing on his official plied to certain regions, as distinguish, work. He came to be the Redeemer ing them from more thickly-peopled of men; it was therefore suitable that places; somewhat as our word counhe should know, by experience, how try is used in distinction from city or to sympathize with human beings in village. John was traversing the the ordinary circumstances of life, as country parts of Judea. These thinlywell as with respect to their eternal settled tracts received names from interests. Heb. 2:11, 14, 17, 18. Be- places near them. The wilderness sides, the Jews maintained, that every of Judea, here mentioned, was so man, whatever his station or his pros- called because it commenced in the pects, ought to be able to follow some territory of Judea. It was sometimes trade.
called the Great Desert, on account of The expression in those days is a its extent; commencing at the city general one, referring to some past of Tekoa, 'six miles south of Bethletime, without intending to connect, hem, it extended to the east as far as in point of time, a following account the Persian Gulf, and very far northwith events just related. It here ward along the river Euphrates. carries us back to the early period of 2. Repent. This word signifies that the Christian history. The true reformation of heart and life, that phrase, used in a similar manner, oc- becoming truly pious, which would curs in Ex. 2: 11. || John the Bap- be adapted to the design of the Satist; that is, the baptizer. John was viour's coming, and would be a suitdistinguished from all preceding re- able preparation for his approach. ligious teachers by his administering By the prophet Malachi (4: 5,6), it of baptism in reference to the Mes- was foretold that the Messiah would siah. * The administering of baptism, be preceded by a distinguished meswith this reference, to those whom senger, whose official business would he deemed suitable persons to receive be to attempt a general reformation it, was an important part of his com- among the Jews. John was that mission. For a full account of the messenger. Matt. 11: 14. 17:10– circumstances connected with the 13. In pursuance of his commission, birth of John, see Luke 1:5—25, 57 he now began summoning the people –80. || Preaching; proclaiming. We to true repentance, that they might are not to think of John as delivering be ready for the coming Messiah. formal discourses to established and See Luke 1:17. || The kingdom of well-regulated audiences; but as trav- heaven. This expression is of the ersing the country, announcing the same import as the expression king.
3 For this is he that was crying in the wilderness, Prespoken of by the prophet Esa- pare ye the way of the Lord, ias, saying, The voice of one make his paths straight. dom of God, used by the other the spiritual benefits which the Mesevangelists. The meaning of this siah bestows. This requisition results phrase must be gathered from the from the very nature of the gospel, language of prophecy respecting the and can never cease. Messiah, and from some of the views 3. Ercias; the Greek method of which the Jews were entertaining expressing the name Isaiah. The in regard to him. He was spoken of passage referred to in this verse, ocby the prophets as a king, who was curs in Is. 40: 3. The imagery emto have a glorious and everlasting do- ployed is drawn from the practice of minion. Micah 5:2. Dan. 7:13, 14. ancient Oriental monarchs, who, when Is. 9:6, 7. His administration was to on a march, sent before them suitable be singularly equitable and prosper- persons to put the roads and all
Is. 11: 1–9. Micah 4:1–4. things in readiness, so that their So different from the administration progress might not be impeded. of ordinary kings was to be his reign, Thus John the Baptist went before and so eminently distinguished above the Messiah, to announce his coming, them, that, in a peculiar sense, his and to lead the people to a suitable reign was to be a reign of God; 'dur- preparation for receiving him. In ing his administration it might well the case of the Eastern monarchs, be said, that God reigns upon earth. preparation consisted in levelling hills, The expression, then, reign of heaven, and filling valleys, and removing all or reign of God, or, as our version obstructions to their march. The preptranslates, kingdom of heaven, would aration for the Messiah must be, of at once be understood by the Jews course, adapted to his character and as meaning the Messiah's adminis- object; and it would consist in obeytration, the glorious times in which ing the call to repentance. the long-expected personage would The language of Isaiah, here apappear and assume his royal authori- plied to John the Baptist, is also ty. They had, indeed, mistaken the applied, in a similar manner, by true nature of this authority, and Mark (1: 3); and by Luke (3:4–6); were not expecting a spiritual reign, also by John the Baptist himself a reign, in their hearts, of the princi- (John 1: 23): The passage, however, ples of piety and integrity. Still, when read' in its original connection, they would regard this language as appears to be a prediction of Jehaan announcement of the Messiah’s vah's coming to deliver his people, approach; and John's official object the Jews, from their captivity in was, to draw their attention to their Babylon. It is probable that the prospiritual state, to lead them to repent- phetic view of the future, which Isaiah ance, and thus to effect a true prepa- enjoyed, included a series of events ration for his coming. Such is the embracing the temporal deliverance of very usual meaning of the phrase the Lord's people from captivity, and kingdom of heaven. It has, also, other the spiritual deliverance of his true meanings, intimately connected, how people by the coming of the Messian. ever, with this ; and these meanings The language, which was appropriate are, in general, sufficiently well point to the whole series thus presented to ed out by the connection in which the the prophet's mind, was also approphrase occurs.
priate to the different parts of the OBSERVE, here, this requisition of series; and hence, in the progress of repentance and a holy life, enforced fulfilment, it was applicable to the at the commencement of Christianity, appearing of John the Baptist as the is still made of all who would enjoy forerunner of the Messiah.