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The King In The Manger                    


 

Luke 1:26-27 . . In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a maiden espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the maiden's name was Mary.

Nazareth is roughly 64 miles north of Jerusalem as the crow flies, and 20 miles inland from Haifa.

Joseph's biological connection to David is extremely important in matters related to theocratic royalty because the right to take his throne passes down thru men.

Mary's name is equivalent to Miriam in the Old Testament: she was Moses' sister.

The sixth month wasn't a date on the Jew's calendar. It was relative to the second trimester of Mary's cousin Elizabeth. (Luke 1:24, Luke 1:36)

NOTE: Mary and Elizabeth were biologically related to Rachel's sister Leah by her two sons Levi and Judah. Elizabeth's name is equivalent to Elisheba in the Old Testament; she was Aaron's wife. All six of the Jews named were biologically related to Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham.

 

Luke 1:28 . .The angel went to her and said: Greetings, you who are highly favored!

"highly favored" is translated from the Greek word charitoo (khar-ee-to'-o) which means to indue with special honor. It's a rare word that appears in only one other verse in the entire New Testament at Eph 1:6.

The angel wasn't describing Mary's character as if she was an ultra pious Jew. He merely stated that she was the object of a very special blessing; same as Christ's believing followers are the objects of a very special blessing at Eph 1:6, i.e. the angel informed Mary that she was extremely fortunate; though for the moment she had no clue as to why.

NOTE: The Douay Rheims version of Luke 1:28 says that Mary was "full of grace" instead of highly favored and "blessed are you among women". Those phrases aren't translated from the Greek; i.e. editors took the liberty to insert them because in their opinion that's what the passage ought to say even though it doesn't, so we can safely ignore them.

Arbitrary editing can be troublesome at times because the practice erodes our confidence that all scripture is by inspiration of God (2Tim 3:16, 2Pet 1:20-21). Sometimes arbitrary editing is helpful; but other times it just muddies the waters.

Luke 1:29 . . She was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be.

Artists generally depict the angel as a celestial being with wings and/or aglow with some sort of ethereal light. But I don't think that's how this one came knocking. He probably looked to Mary no different than an ordinary man because the New Testament Greek word for angel is aggelos (ang'-el os) which refers to all manner of messengers, e.g. prophets (Matt 11:10), delegates (Luke 7:24), fire (Heb 1:7), church officers (Rev 1:20-3:14), and apparitions (Rev 22:16).

I rather suspect that Mary was a little nervous that maybe this man talking to her wasn't some sort of crackpot.

Luke 1:30 . . But the angel said to her: Do not be afraid, Mary,

The New Testament Greek word for "afraid" is phobeo (fob-eh'-o) which basically refers to fright and alarm. Mary was scared; and who wouldn't be when a total stranger walks into your life out of nowhere, talking crazy, and knowing your name to boot? Even the holiest of holy men have been shaken by angels, e.g. Dan 10:15-17 and Heb 12:18-21. So Mary's reaction wasn't unusual.

 

Luke 1:30 . .You have found favor with God.

The Greek word translated "favor" is charis (khar'-ece) a common word for "grace" which, in my estimation, is best understood as gracious; and can be defined as kind, courteous, inclined to good will, generous, charitable, merciful, altruistic, compassionate, thoughtful, cordial, affable, non threatening, genial, sociable, cheerful, warm, sensitive, considerate, and tactful.

The equivalent of charis in the Old Testament is chen (khane); for example:

"Noah found favor in the eyes of The Lord." (Gen 6:8)

I think it fair to say that when someone has found favor with God, it probably means that He's taken a liking to them; or at least a personal interest; for example:

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you." (John 15:9)

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God; such is what we are." (1John 3:1)

Luke 1:31a . . Behold,

The Greek word translated "behold" is idou (id-oo') which, in this case, means to listen up and pay attention 'cause this is important.

Luke 1:31b . . you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son.

The Greek word translated "conceive" means exactly what it says. We're not talking about a test tube baby here. The very same word is used at Luke 1:24 and Luke 1:36 in talking about Elizabeth's baby.

It's amazing the number of Christians that I encounter online who honestly believe baby Jesus was an implant. i.e. that his mom was a surrogate mother instead of his biological mother.

 

Mary's baby was on track as a miracle.

Luke 1:34-35 . . How will this be— Mary asked the angel —since I am a virgin? The angel answered: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

The angel also said:

Luke 1:31-32 . .You are to give him the name Jesus.

Mary's fiancé was instructed to give her baby the very same name.

Matt 1:20-21 . . An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.

(Joseph had been contemplating breaking the engagement because Mary was preggers with a baby that wasn't his.)

Joseph complied with the angel's instructions.

Matt 1:24-25 . . When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

So Christ went in the books as Joseph's son because that's how it worked in those days when a man stood with a woman to name her child. (cf. Luke 1:59, Luke 2:21)

From that day on; Joseph was identified by all, including Mary, as Jesus' father. (Matt 13:55, Luke 2:27, Luke 2:41, Luke 2:48). In other words: Joseph adopted Mary's baby as his own; which had some legal ramifications.

Adopted children have just as much legal right to an inheritance as a father's biological children; especially a right to the father's name; and that's how baby Jesus got into Joseph's genealogy at Matt 1:1-17. Had the little guy been Joseph's foster child, or his stepchild; then it would've been fraud for Matthew to place the boy in Joseph's genealogy.

Joseph's action wasn't without precedent. At Gen 48:5-7, Jacob adopted his own two grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim; and by doing so installed them in positions equal in rank, honor, power, and privilege to his twelve original sons.

Jacob's motive for adopting Manasseh and Ephraim wasn't for himself; it was in sympathy for his beloved wife Rachel whose life was cut short during her child-bearing years, which subsequently prevented her from having any more children of her own. Ephraim and Manasseh bring Rachel's total progeny up to six: two of her own, two by the maid Bilhah, and two by Asenath; the wife of Jacob's son Joseph.

Now, according to Matt 1:6, Joseph was Solomon's progeny; thus Jesus became Solomon's progeny via his adoption by Joseph. This is very, very important because it is via David's son Solomon that entitlement to the throne is inherited. (1Kgs 1:16-39)

 

In the beginning; God created only one human being directly from the dust of the Earth. No other human being has ever come into existence that way. All succeeding human beings are descendants of that first one; including his own wife.

Eve was formed from samples of already-existing, already-created human materials taken from Adam's body. So then organically, and biologically, Eve was just as much Adam as Adam. (Gen 5:2)

Gen 2:23 . . Adam said: This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh

So then, any offspring conceived by Eve's body, whether normally conceived or virgin conceived, would also consist of bone of Adam's bones and flesh of his flesh because that is the only kind of human being that Eve was designed to reproduce.

Now, unless someone can prove conclusively and beyond any shadow of sensible doubt, that Mary's body was in no way organically or biologically related to Eve, then we must conclude that any offspring conceived by Mary's body, whether normally conceived or virgin conceived, would also be organically and biologically related to Eve; and thus consist of bone of Adam's bones and flesh of his flesh.

When you get right down to it; Mary wasn't the most important woman in Jesus' life; it was Eve all along, from the very beginning.

Gen 3:14-15 . . So the Lord God said to the serpent: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.

 

Luke 1:31-32 . . the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father.

When Joseph adopted Jesus into Solomon's lineage, it gave the child a legal opportunity to inherit David's throne, but it did not give him a natural opportunity, viz: in order to fully qualify as a candidate for the throne, Jesus absolutely had to be David's biological progeny.

Ps 89:3-4 . . I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant: I will establish your seed forever, and build up your throne to all generations

Ps 132:11 . .The Lord has sworn to David, a truth from which He will not turn back: Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.

Ps 89:35-36 . . Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me.

The New Testament verifies that Jesus satisfies the natural requirement in those Psalms.

Rom 1:1-3 . . Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh

The Greek word for "seed" in that passage is sperma (sper'-mah) which is a bit ambiguous because it can refer to spiritual progeny as well as to biological progeny; for example:

Gal 3:29 . . If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed.

That seed is obviously spiritual progeny. But the seed in Rom 1:1-3 is biological progeny because David's seed is "according to the flesh" i.e. his physical human body.

 

FAQ: A king named Jeconiah is listed in Solomon's genealogy (Matt 1:11). He was a very bad king; so bad that God pronounced a curse on his posterity. If Jesus inherited David's throne from Solomon, then shouldn't he have also inherited Jeconiah's curse right along with it?

A: Yes, because adopted children inherit from their fathers the same as biological children; so had the curse extended to Joseph, it would have extended to Jesus too whether he was virgin-conceived or not. In other words: seeing as how Jesus got into Solomon's royal line by adoption, then of course he would've got into the curse too because the throne and the curse would've been a package deal.

But here's the wording of the curse.

"Thus says The Lord: Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; for no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah." (Jer 22:29-30)

The wording "ruling again in Judah" indicates that the curse on Jeconiah's royal progeny was limited to the era of the divided kingdom, with Judah in the south and Samaria in the north. That condition came to an end when Nebuchadnezzar crushed the whole country and led first Samaria, and then later Judah, off to Babylonian slavery.

When Messiah reigns, the country of Israel will be unified. His jurisdiction won't be limited to Judah within a divided kingdom, but will dominate all the land of Israel. So the curse doesn't extend to him.

Ezek 37:21-22 . .You shall declare to them: Thus said the Lord God: I am going to take the Israelite people from among the nations they have gone to, and gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land. I will make them a single nation in the land, on the hills of Israel, and one king shall be king of them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.

FAQ: I've heard it said that Jesus was virgin-born primarily to circumvent Jeconiah's curse, viz; the curse only extends to blood relatives. Is that true?

A: It's an attractive alternative. If perchance you should favor it, you will be in good company because it's a common belief held among quite a few respectable expositors.

However, there's really no need for a detour because if we compare Jeconiah's tenure to his grandson's Zerubbabel, it is easy to see that the curse was already gone by the time the 70 years of captivity were over. Much of the terminology God used in deposing Jeconiah was repeated to bless and empower Zerubbabel.

Jeconiah's Curse: "As surely as I live," declares the Lord, "even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off." (Jeremiah 22:24)

Zerubbabel's Blessing: "On that day" declares the Lord Almighty, "I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel," declares the Lord, "and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you," declares the Lord Almighty. (Hag 2:23)

Zerubbabel was the last of Solomon's line listed in the Old Testament. And it was through him that the second Temple was constructed-- all with Divine blessing.

Zech 4:6-10 . .Then he explained to me as follows: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit--said the Lord of Hosts. Whoever you are, O great mountain in the path of Zerubbabel, turn into level ground! For he shall produce that excellent stone; it shall be greeted with shouts of "Beautiful! Beautiful!"

. . . And the word of the Lord came to me: “Zerubbabel’s hands have founded this House and Zerubbabel’s hands shall complete it. Then you shall know that it was the Lord of Hosts who sent me to you. Does anyone scorn a day of small beginnings? When they see the stone of distinction in the hand of Zerubbabel, they shall rejoice.

David, the progenitor of the Davidic dynasty, wasn't permitted to build a Temple.

1Chrn 22:7-8 . . David said to Solomon, “My son, I wanted to build a House for the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and fought great battles; you shall not build a House for My name for you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight.

So Zerubbabel was, in all practicality, a holier man than his grandfather David; and certainly without question far more holy than Jeconiah. Only two royals of the house of David have built Temples for God: Solomon and Zerubbabel. It will be most interesting to see who builds the next one.

NOTE: Since Zerubbabel is the last of Solomon's line in the Old Testament, and also the last ruler in Israel to be blessed in such an unusual manner, he is without question the final Biblical milepost pointing the way to Messiah. Anyone claiming messiahship now, must be shown to be related to Zerubbabel-- any descendant of Solomon just won't do. Messianic candidates have to be descendants of Zerubbabel.
 

The Journey                                 

Luke 2:1-2 . . In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)

The historical accuracy of this particular census has been contested by some of the Bible's critics. However, there is an explanation that they apparently either missed or just simply chosen to ignore. But the explanation is a bit complicated so I'm going to skip it so we can keep moving.

Luke 2:2-4 . . And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also; went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

It's one thing to belong to a house and quite another to belong to a line. The one is legal whereas the other is biological.

For example: Jesus belonged to Solomon's house, but he didn't belong to Solomon's line. Another example is Obed (Ruth 4:16, Matt 1:5, and Luke 3:32). He belonged to Mahlon's house but he didn't belong to Mahlon's line. (Ruth 4:9)

It's odd the language says that Joseph went "up" because Bethlehem is to the south of Nazareth, down past Jerusalem. But seeing as how Bethlehem is roughly 1,405 feet higher above sea level than Nazareth, "up" seems appropriate.

The journey is roughly 68 miles as the crow flies, but was possibly at least 80 on the ground back then. Plus, there were no paved roads in that day, nor any diesel-powered earth moving equipment, so you'd have to expect that the roads were tolerable but not all that great; and if perchance it had been raining, the roads would be even worse.

Luke 2:5 . . He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him

Artist typically portray Joseph and Mary traveling together with her mounted on a donkey. I seriously doubt it. She was carrying a term baby so was more likely in a wagon or some sort of cart; and padded too.

We can't really be sure that the couple traveled all alone on the road like sad little immigrants. Everyone in Joseph's home related to David would've been required to go to Bethlehem too, and quite likely they all journeyed together.

At the time, Joseph and Mary were engaged but not yet married. So she couldn't register with Joseph as man and wife. In other words, Mary went to Bethlehem to register for herself; which doesn't necessarily prove she was related to David seeing as how Bethlehem was no doubt the ancestral home of quite a few other families in Israel besides David's.

 

Luke 2:6-7 . . While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

According to Mic 5:2, Bethlehem back then was a tiny community compared to many of the others in Judah; probably less than a 1,000 residents. I honestly doubt that all those had homes in town.

When I was a boy, I lived in a mountain community of 2,000, but the town proper itself had at most 200 actually living in it though everyone thereabouts had the town's name in their mailing address. As I recall there was only one motel even though a major interstate passed right thru the middle of town so I wouldn't be surprised if the inn spoken of in Luke 2:7 was the only one there was.

However the Greek word for "inn" appears only three times in the entire New Testament: one in Luke 2:7, another in Mark 14:14, and a third in Luke 22:11. In Mark and Luke, the word speaks of a single room: a guest chamber; i.e. a sort of bed and breakfast. In other words: the "inn" was likely nothing more than a spare room in a private home.

 

Luke 2:8 . . . And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.

To hear Jacob tell it; a shepherd's life would not be my career of choice. (Gen 31:38-40)

Luke 2:9-11 . . And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

. . . And the angel said to them: Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a savior;

The Greek word for "savior" is soter (so-tare') which basically means a rescuer. Common examples of this would be lifeguards, firemen, cops, emergency medical teams, Coast Guard units, snow patrols, and mountain rescue teams. Rescuers typically save people who are facing imminent death and/or grave peril and utterly helpless to do anything about it.

Saviors in the Old Testament were what we might call knights in shining armor, i.e. they were ordinary men and women called upon by God to liberate their people from things like slavery and oppression. (Neh 9:27)

This one born in Bethlehem wasn't an ordinary savior. He was/is a divine being. (John 1:1-14)

Luke 2:11 . . which is Christ the Lord.

The Greek word for "Christ" basically refers to anointing; which is how Jewish kings were installed back in the Old Testament; for example David (1Sam 16:1-13). So then, calling someone "Christ" is all the same as calling them a king; regardless of their ethnic identity. For example: the Old Testament equivalent of Christ is mashiyach (maw-shee'-akh) which the Bible applies to a Persian king named Cyrus. (Isa 45:1)

In that respect, there have been many Christs, but none like this one because he will not only rule his people, and not only rescue his people from their normal woes, but also the one woe that all men fear most.

Matt 1:18-21 . .This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

. . . But after he had considered this, an angel of The Lord appeared to him in a dream and said: Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Joshua; which in Hebrew means: Jehovah-saved, i.e. saved by Jehovah. Now when Jehovah saves people from their sins, then they need not ever again fear the sum of all fears. Surely no one would dispute that kind of news as justifiable cause for the "great joy" announced by the angel to the shepherds.


The Wise Men                        

Matt 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.

The Greek word for these particular wise men is from magos (mag'-os) from which we get the English word magician. But back then, the word indicated a variety of disciplines, e.g. philosophy, religion, science, politics, and medicine, etc. In other words; these men were intelligent and they were educated.

Now before we assume that these guys were all ethnic Persians we need to be aware that the Jews and their converts were spread out all over the world at this time; for example on the day of Pentecost:

"Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. A crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard [the disciples] speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?

. . .Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs— we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" (Acts 2:5-11)

I think it's pretty safe to assume that ethnic Persians would not be interested in the Jews' religion so I posit that the wise guys were either Jewish men or converts; and thus knowledgeable of the Old Testament prophecies that speak of a very important successor to David's throne.

Matt 2:2b . . for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

So; how did the travelers know to follow that star? Well; first off we have to realize that their star wasn't a celestial object because it was low enough in the sky to direct people to the exact house were baby Jesus was lodged (Matt 2:9). In other words: their star was an apparition.

During the holidays, planetariums here and there put on shows that theorize the wise men's star. They typically neglect to take into account that stars, in their normal motions, never move to the north or to the south; they always move from the east to the west. Well, Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem and Nazareth is north.

Plus, they seem to always forget that the wise men's star stood right over the place where little Jesus was lodged. Well; stars in their motions never take a time-out to hover; and even if one were to do so, they are so high in the sky that it's nigh unto impossible without special instruments to tell the exact spot where any one star is directly over something.

But how did they know their star was related to the newborn king? Well; according to Matt 2:12, they were in contact with God. In other words: the men weren't acting on their own initiative: they were on a mission; directed and supervised by divine oversight.

 

Matt 2:3-4 . . And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born.

The Greek word for "Christ" basically refers to anointing; which is how Jewish kings were installed back in the Old Testament; for example David (1Sam 16:1-13). So then, calling someone "the Christ" is all the same as calling them a king; regardless of their ethnic identity. For example: the Old Testament equivalent of Christ is mashiyach (maw-shee'-akh) which the Bible applies to a Persian king named Cyrus. (Isa 45:1)

Right about here I got a bit curious. Why would Herod think that the king the wise men sought was predicted in the Bible? It seems to me that in order for Herod to be thinking that way, he'd have to be aware of Daniel's famous seventy-week prophecy. (Dan 9:24-27)

Well, after a bit of checking, I discovered that Herod took an interest in the Jews' religion and was somewhat learned in it. In point of fact, Herod at this time was upgrading the Temple.

The chief priests and scribes, being Old Testament experts, were for sure aware of Daniel's prophecy and I'll just bet that they and their forbearers had been keeping track of Daniel's timeline all along and thus probably not all that surprised when rumors of a Christ started cropping up in their day.

Well; anyway, Herod asked the wrong question. According to Matt 2:2, baby Jesus was already born; in fact, born even before the wise men left their country. So then, knowing where Israel's new king was to be born was a long shot that he'd still be there. The question Herod should have asked is: Where might the boy be now?

After an audience with Herod, the wise men departed; still guided by their star.

Matt 2:9a . . After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them.

And then it stood right over the very address where Jesus was lodged.

Matt 2:9b . . It stopped over the place where the child was.

The place was a house rather than a stable.

Matt 2:11a . . On coming to the house

It's difficult to calculate the boy's age when the wise men arrived; however one thing we know for sure it was their understanding that the king they sought was already born even before they left home to seek him. We know that because their inquiry contains some past tense grammar in Matt 2:2.

There's no telling how long after Jesus' birth that the men departed their country to search for him. Plus, there were no motorized conveyances back then; and people normally didn't travel at night because their artificial lighting was pretty much limited to torches, candles, and oil-fired lanterns.

 

Matt 2:11b . . They saw the child with his mother

When Jesus was lodged in the stable, the Greek word for his age is given as brephos (bref'-os): an infant. In the house, the word for his age is given as paidion (pahee-dee'-on) which refers to any underage kid from infancy to adolescence but usually always refers to young children rather than infants.

I won't hazard a guess as to Jesus' age by the time the men arrived to see him, but I'm thinking he was at the very least no longer in a bassinet.

Matt 2:11c . . and fell down, and worshipped him:

The Greek word for "worship" is proskuneo (pros-koo-neh'-o). It's kind of a funny word because it basically pictures a dog licking its master's hand; which speaks of love, loyalty, and subordination.

Now if these guys knew their stuff— I think we can safely assume so —then they didn't come all the way from the east seeking another run-of-the-mill king of the Davidic dynasty, rather; a very special potentate that would one day rule not just the land of Israel; but the entire planet, viz: everybody.

Dan 7:13-14 . . In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted into His presence.

. . . He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is the one that will never be destroyed.

Well; let the record show that the wise men were the very first to begin fulfilling that scene; viz: "all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him".

 

Matt 2:11-12 . .Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Those were not only appropriate tributes in that day, but also valuable commodities that Joseph could put to use in financing his family's pending sojourn in Egypt. (Matt 2:13-14)

It would've been fun if Matthew had told us the weight of the gold so we could put a dollar figure on it according to today's precious metals.

Matt 2:11-12 . . And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

That was a safety measure to prevent Herod from knowing where to find the lad because rulers in that day were typically Machiavellian— they didn't just crush potential threats to their power; they utterly annihilated it; and as subsequent events demonstrate, ol' Herod had neither conscience nor concern for child welfare.

Matt 2:16a . .Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth

There's really nothing in the story to even remotely suggest that the wise men made a fool out of Herod. It was all in his own mind, i.e. his own perception of the events. In other words; Herod was under the impression that they had mocked him; thus his reaction was stimulated by a false premise.

Matt 2:16b . . He 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 inquired of the wise men.

The Greek word for "coasts" is a mite ambiguous. It technically indicates borders, but can also indicate regions and/or environs and surrounding areas.

That verse is commonly appropriated to calculate Jesus' age relative to when the wise men visited him and his mother. But the verse merely indicates the passage of time since Herod interviewed the men; which is quite useless for calculating Jesus' age seeing as how he was already born before the men even left their country— how long before they left their country, nobody knows for sure.

Matt 2:17-18 . .Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "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." (Jer 31:15)

Ramah was roughly six miles north of Jerusalem, while Bethlehem is roughly the same distance south in the opposite direction.

Ramah was settled by the people of Rachel's biological son Benjamin, so that any weeping done by the mothers in that area would be reckoned, by heritage, to be Rachel's weeping.

What this suggests to me is that the slaughter of the innocents extended beyond the community of Bethlehem. Were we to set a draftsman's compass to a radius equal to the distance between Bethlehem and Ramah, and scribe a circle with Bethlehem at the center, it would yield a pretty good idea of the area covered by Herod's death squads.

But Herod's efforts were futile. Jesus wasn't even in the country; Joseph had moved the child and his mother down into Egypt before all the killing began. (Matt 2:13)

 

Matt 2:19-23 . . After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and 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.

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

NOTE: Jesus' hometown Nazareth was predicted by the prophets but not recorded by the prophets; which alerts us to the fact that the prophets didn't put everything they knew down in writing. That was fortunate because sure enough Herod's death squads would've swept around Nazareth too had he known.

Jesus is identified with Nazareth several times in the New Testament; probably the best known incident took place on the day of his crucifixion.

John 19:19-20 . . Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was:

JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

 

 

 

 

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