Matthew Chapter 2

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Christogenea, Matthew Chapter 2, Program Notes

II 1 Now Yahshua being born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herodas the king, behold! Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, 2 saying “Where is He having been born King of the Judaeans? For we have seen His star in the east and we have come to worship Him!” 

Strabo quotes Polybius where he says that “the priests of the Egyptians, the Chaldaeans, and the Magi, because they excelled their fellows in knowledge of some kind or other, attained to leadership and honour among the peoples of our times” (Geog. 1.2.15). Quoting Poseidonius, he says that “the Council of the Parthians … consists of two groups, one that of kinsmen, and the other that of wise men and Magi, from both of which groups the kings were appointed” (11.9.3). The Magi kept a guard at the tomb of Cyrus (Strabo, 15.3.7), directed the sacrifices of the Persians and distributed the meat from the altar, without setting aside a portion for the Persian deities (15.3.13) because the gods do not need meat, where Strabo also said that “the Persians do not erect statues or altars, but offer sacrifice on a high place”, a practice we see the Israelites chastised for in Scripture. Strabo also mentions his own eye-witness account of a “sect of the Magi, who are called Pyraethi (fire-kindlers)” who dwell in Cappadocia. They are said to keep an eternal fire, and to sacrifice animals by cudgeling them, and to carry about in procession a wooden statue of a strange god named “Omanus” (15.3.15). Among the Magi of Persia Strabo said that when they die they are not buried, but rather their bodies are left “to be eaten by birds”, and mentions that they were known to “consort even with their mothers” (15.3.20). 

Strabo's view of the Magi, even considering the more fantastic stories he offered, is still quite practical compared to that of Diodorus Siculus, who only makes notable mention of them – at least in relation to our purposes here – on one occasion where he states, speaking of the early people of the island of Rhodes who were called the Telchines, that “men say that the Telchines were also wizards and could summon clouds and rain and hail at their will and likewise could even bring snow; these things, the accounts tell us, they could do even as could the Magi of Persia; and they could also change their natural shapes and were jealous of teaching their arts to others” (5.55.1-3)

The much earlier Herodotus, speaking of the Medes, names the Magi as one of the “tribes of which they consist”, listing six (1:101). In his account of the birth of Cyrus, which is considered fantastic by most commentators, the historian describes one of the Magi as being an interpreter of dreams for Astyages the king of the Medes (1:107, 120), a gift we also see attributed – albeit imperfectly – to the Chaldaean priests in the Book of Daniel. This is describing events which took place circa 580 BC, a century-and-a-half before Herodotus wrote. This is right around the same time as the Hebrew prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel. Herodotus also said of the Magi that “The Magi are a very peculiar race, differently entire from the Egyptian priests, and indeed from all other men whatsoever. The Egyptian priests make it a point of religion not to kill any live animals except those which they offer in sacrifice. The Magi, on the contrary, kill animals of all kinds with their own hands, excepting dogs and men. They even seem to take a delight in the employment, and kill, as readily as they do other animals, ants and snakes, and such like flying or creeping things. However, since this has always been their custom, let them keep to it.“ Now this seems trite, but what Herodotus does not say about the Magi is important. Herodotus recorded a lot of fantastic stories, for which he is often criticized, but he himself admitted this, considering it his duty to “report all that is said” whether he believed it or not (7:152). Yet about the Magi he reports no fantastic stories such as shape-shifting or flying carpets or other wild tales.

Discuss: the magi called by the Greeks Pseudo-Smerdis here, (Gaumata, impersonated Bardiya the brother of Cambyses.

Ezra 8:17 states: “Ezra 8:17 And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, and to his brethren the Nethinims, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God.”

From Classical Records of the Origins of the Scythians, Parthians,& Related Tribes:

“East of Iberia and reaching to the Caspian Sea was Albania, of which the eastern part, Caspiana, sat at the mouth of that same Araxes river where the Scythians are placed at the earliest times. Herodotus mentions the Caspians at 7.67, and in company with the Bactrians in Xerxes’ Persian army at 7.86. In Strabo we have seen the relationship of the Bactrians and Scythians mentioned above (11.8.2). Caspiana must be, as Dr. George Moore agrees in his The Lost Tribes And The Saxons Of The East And The Saxons Of the West, that same district mentioned at Ezra 8:17, Casiphia, to which Ezra sent for Levites to come to Jerusalem after the rebuilding of the Temple. Moore wrote as much in the 1870’s, when his book was first published.”

Caspiana, or Casiphia, was in an area that Herodotus would very well have associated with the Medes. It is very possible that he and later writers, all the way down to the time of Christ, may have confused the Levites in the area as being another “sect of the Magi”, as Strabo puts it. It is very possible that the “Magi” of the time of Christ may well have been descended from the Levites of the deportations of Israel and Judah. Of course, this is conjecture and there is not enough evidence to make any solid claim, however the possibility certainly explains the interest and knowledge that the Magi had concerning the Christ.

Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton University Press, 1969, ed. J. Pritchard, no mention of Magi in index, or in my notes from having read the book. No mention of Magi found in other sources I could locate for ancient inscriptions which predate the Persian period.

3 And hearing it King Herodas was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him, 4 and upon gathering all the high priests and scribes of the people he inquired from them: “Where is the Christ born?” 5 And they said to him: “In Bethlehem of Judaea.” For thusly it was written by the prophet: 6 “And you Bethlehem, land of Iouda, by no means are you least among the leaders of Iouda, for there shall come out of you a leader, who shall shepherd My people Israel.”

Discuss:

1. The use of the plural, “high priests” throughout the New Testament.

2. Herod the Edomite.

3. Bethlehem, city of David. The quote is from Micah 5:1-3.

4. The conspiracy against the Christ.

In the Revelation at 12:4 we see “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, in order that when she should give birth he may devour her child.“

The dragon here is represented by the historical Herod the Great, for only he attempted to murder the Christ child as soon as he was born, as we find recorded here in Matthew. The fact that Herod represents the dragon is quite profound once we discover that he was not an Israelite, but an Edomite by race. That Herod was indeed of the seed of Esau is fully apparent in the pages of the Judaean historian, Flavius Josephus, where it is attested to directly or indirectly at least five times, and those instances shall be cited here:  

Josephus, Antiquities, 14:8: But there was a certain friend of Hyrcanus, an Idumean, called Antipater, who was very rich, and in his nature an active and a seditious man; who was at enmity with Aristobulus, and had differences with him on account of his goodwill to Hyrcanus. [Antipater was the father of Herod.]

Josephus, Antiquities, 14:403: but Antigonus, by way of reply to what Herod had caused to be proclaimed, and this before the Romans, and before Silo also, said that they would not do justly if they gave the kingdom to Herod, who was no more than a private man, and an Idumean, i.e. a half Jew, whereas they ought to bestow it on one of the royal family, as their custom was...

Josephus, Wars, 1:123: Now, those other people which were at variance with Aristobulus were afraid, upon his unexpectedly obtaining the government; and especially this concerned Antipater, whom Aristobulus hated of old. He was by birth an Idumean, and one of the principal of that nation, on account of his ancestors and riches, and other authority to him belonging...

Josephus, Wars, 1:312-313: 312 And here a certain old man, the father of seven children, whose children, together with their mother, desired him to give them permission to go out, upon the assurance and right hand that was offered them, slew them after the following manner: he ordered everyone of them to go out, while he stood himself at the cave's mouth, and slew each son of his as went out. Herod was near enough to see this sight, and his bowels of compassion were moved at it, and he stretched out his right hand to the old man, and besought him to spare his children; 313 yet did not he relent at all upon what he said, but over and above reproached Herod on the lowness of his descent, and slew his wife as well as his children; and when he had thrown their dead bodies down the precipice, he at last threw himself down after them.

Now at Antiquities, 14:403 we see that Josephus called Herod a “half Jew”, but by that he did not mean that his mother was an Israelite, since here where Josephus is speaking of Antipater we shall see that Herod's mother was indeed an Idumaean, at Antiquities, 14:120-121: 120 and as he came back to Tyre, he went up into Judea also, and attacked Taricheae, and presently took it, and carried about thirty thousand Jews captives; and slew Pitholaus, who succeeded Aristobulus in his seditious practices, and that by the persuasion of Antipater, 121 who proved to have great interest in him, and was at that time in great repute with the Idumeans also: out of which nation he married a wife, who was the daughter of one of their eminent men, and her name was Cypros, {a} by whom he had four sons, Phasael, and Herod, who was afterward made king, and Joseph, and Pheroras; and a daughter, named Salome.

With this it is apparent that by “half-Jew” Josephus did not mean racially, but perhaps he used the term only as far as confession and appearance were concerned. It is fully evident that Herod, representative of the dragon, was fully an Edomite by blood. Remember, as it is mentioned in both Malachi chapter 1 and Romans chapter 9, Yahweh God hated Esau, Paul even referring to the Edomites as “vessels of destruction”.  

3 And hearing it King Herodas [the Edomite usurper] was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him, 4 and upon gathering all the high priests and scribes of the people he inquired from them: “Where is the Christ born?” 5 And they said to him: “In Bethlehem of Judaea.” For thusly it was written by the prophet: 6 “And you Bethlehem, land of Iouda, by no means are you least among the leaders of Iouda, for there shall come out of you a leader, who shall shepherd My people Israel.”

Left to discuss:

3. Bethlehem, city of David. The quote is from Micah 5:1-3.

4. The conspiracy against the Christ.

KJV Micah 5: “1 Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek. 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. 3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.”

The ruler of Israel shall come from Bethlehem, he shall be of the tribe of Judah, and he shall be smitten. The prophecy in Micah also reveals, by necessity, that the ruler is Yahweh Himself, because it states that – while he is coming in the future – he is also one “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”, which can only describe God Himself.

Now Matthew records that at the report of the magi, ”Herodas was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him”, which indicates that all of the court of Herod which heard the magi, the officers, the priests, and whoever else may have been present, were troubled about the announcement of a Messiah as much as Herod was. This stands in stark contrast to the joy of the Magi, or the reaction of the apostles recorded at John 1:35-51, or the profession of the woman at the well in John chapter 4, that she knew that the Messiah would soon come, and expected even to see Him in her lifetime. The apostles as portrayed by John also anticipated His coming. All of these people expected the Messiah and were full of joy to see Him. The people of Judaea should have been, if they were indeed His people. Rather, they were not, and for that reason they feared. It is evident from many later Scriptures, from john chapters 8 and 10 and Romans chapter 9 for instance, that the people of Jerusalem – at least a large amount of them – were indeed Edomites, and not Judah.

Later in this presentation of the Gospel of Matthew both Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 shall be read in their entirety, discussing the conspiracy against the Christ and how He was to suffer, as foretold by the prophets. For now, Psalm 22:16 reads: “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” Isaiah 53, a Messianic prophecy, states in verse 7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” We shall see later in this presentation of the gospels, that Christ spoke to Pilate, but he would not answer Herod a word. The connection of the metaphor of dogs to Canaanites, which is also evident in Matthew chapter 15, and the connection of Herod to the dragon of Revelation 12, which is also the serpent and satan, are facts of history, and should alone make it without doubt that it was the children of the serpent, and not the children of God, who were ultimately responsible for the murder of God. So Yahshua tells Pilate that “he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin”, Himself indicating that the Edomites of the Herodians were indeed responsible for His death.

[Cite Near Eastern Archaeology, Volume 68 Number 1, March-June 2005, and an article entitled “A People Transformed – Palestine in the Persian Period” page 16, for yet another admission of the Edomites in Judaea after the deportations of Israel. The people were not transformed, they were replaced! There is a ton of evidence of this even in modern writings, even at places such as Wikipedia. However the mainstream judaized so-called churches ignore the implications.]

7 Then Herodas calling the magi secretly, exacted precisely from them the time of the appearance of the star, 8 and sending them to Bethlehem said: “Going, you inquire precisely concerning the child, and when you find Him, you report to me, that I also coming may worship Him.” 

There is no doubt that Herod exhibits the cunning so manifestly prevalent among those of his own race, and which those known as jews today – the synagogue of satan - have been famous for throughout time. Many men have tried to determine what this star was. I am not one of them. We have tools available, which seem to be good, such as the Wolfram Alpha computational engine which is open on the internet. This particular machine (it is a software machine) can do marvellous things, including the computation of celestial bodies as they appeared thousands of years ago. However its flaw is that we must assume that as the celestial bodies are today, so they were thousands of years ago. We must bear in mind that this is indeed an assumption, and there are no guarantees that it is correct. I, for one, would not depend upon extrapolating present conditions back thousands of years in an attempt to determine the past. There are many books and papers written by men professing to know what the star was, and all for their own reasons. I will not make a comment upon it. One thing is certain to me, whatever this star was, I can find no Scripture today which indicates anything about it, but these magi were indeed quite confident and so they must have had something that instructed them of the start and its significance.

9 And hearing the king they went, and behold! The star which they saw in the east went before them, until coming it stood above where the child was. 10 And seeing the star they rejoiced with an exceedingly great joy. 11 And coming into the house they saw the child with Maria His mother, and falling they worshipped Him and opening their chests presented gifts to Him, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned by a dream not to go back to Herodas, they withdrew by another way into their country.

Now we shall see in the Gospel of Luke that Yahshua's parents, Joseph and Mary, were quite poor. This is evident in Luke 2:24, where the offering they brought for the child at his presentation in the temple was a pair of birds. Leviticus 12: “6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: 7 Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. 8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” These gifts, being of great value, it must be that they were somehow stored for the child by the parents, rather than having been consumed by them. No mention is made of such wealth in later scripture. Matthew and Luke each tell this story quite differently, and each tell different parts of it. Luke is focused on the child, and what other people, those who were pious and loved God, said about Him. Matthew is focused on the events going on in Judaea surrounding the birth of the child, and on the conspiracy against Him by the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

13 And upon their withdrawing, behold! A messenger of Yahweh appeared in a dream to Ioseph, saying: “Arising, take the child and His mother and flee into Egypt, and you must be there until when I should speak to you. For Herodas is about to seek the child and to destroy it!” 14 And arising he took the child and His mother at night and withdrew into Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herodas, in order that that which had been spoken by Yahweh through the prophet should be fulfilled, saying: “Out of Egypt I have called My Son.”

The words are found at Hosea 11:1: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” Matthew interpreted Hosea 11:1 as a dual prophecy, applying to Christ as well as the people of Israel. The things which Israel suffered during her national history, Christ also was to suffer. Going to Egypt to flee death was symbolic of the children of Israel who did likewise many centuries before. This further solidifies the bond between the Christ and His people Israel (which today's judaized Christians deny, thinking that somehow the jews are Israel, who are actually satanic). It says in Amos 3: “1 Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, 2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. 3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” In this respect, Paul wrote at Hebrews 2: “14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”

The Children of Israel escaped the slaughter of the first-born and the bondage of Egypt by the blood of a lamb. Now we need to escape the judgement of this world and our present state of bondage by the blood of The Lamb.

16 Then Herodas, seeing that he had been mocked by the magi, had been exceedingly angered, and sending he slew all the children who were in Bethlehem and in all of its borders from two years and below, according to the time which he exacted from the magi. 17 Then that which had been spoken through Ieremios the prophet had been fulfilled, saying: 18 “A voice was heard in Rama, much weeping and wailing; Rachel crying for her children. And she did not desire to be comforted, for they are not!”

There is no historical verification of this event, and especially in the pages of Josephus. For this reason many scoff, and they should all be ashamed of themselves. Bethlehem was a small pastoral community in the mountains about 10 kilometers south of Judaea. It was so small, that there is no archaeological evidence from the period which even can be used to verify its existence, so today the jews argue over whether it existed at all. There is no solid assurance that they are even looking in the right place. Some jews even claim that Christ was born at a different Bethlehem, in Galilee, an idea which flies in the face of Scripture. It cannot, therefore, be imagined that the population was very large. It may well be that, because of the relatively small population of this remote pastoral village, only a few dozen children perished in such an incident, if that many. Contrasted with the many other evil deeds of Herod, the murder of a few dozen children would hardly be worthy of notice!  

Josephus says in Antiquities Book 15: “since Herod had now the government of all Judea put into his hands, he promoted such of the private men in the city as had been of his party, but never stopped avenging and punishing everyday those who had chosen to be of the party of his enemies”. When Herod secured power in Judaea, he put all of the principle men of the land to death, who were connected to the Hasamoneans (the Maccabees). Later, he murdered his own wife and several of his own sons. Not long before his own death, after a failed sedition against him, he again had all of the principle men of Judaea gathered into the Hippodrome, and had them all slain. This would have been right around the time of the birth of Christ, and surely would have been a distraction from any of his other misdeeds. Herod died in 1 B.C., only a little over a year or so after Christ was born.  

19 Then upon the dying of Herodas, behold! A messenger of Yahweh appears in a dream to Ioseph in Egypt, 20 saying “Arising take the child and His mother and go into the land of Israel. For those seeking the life of the child have died!” 21 And arising he took the child and His mother and entered into the land of Israel.

Herod was succeeded by his son, Herod Archelaus, who was twice as wicked as his father, and deposed by the Romans after a few years of rule.

22 And hearing that Archelaos reigns over Judaea in place of his father Herodas, he feared to depart for there. But being warned in a dream he withdrew into the parts of Galilaia, 23 and coming he settled in a city called Nazaret, that that which had been spoken by the prophets would be fulfilled, that He shall be called a Nazoraian.

There are two different Greek words which are both said by Strong to mean “of Nazareth”: Ναζαρηνός (3479), always “Nazarene” here, and Ναζωραῖος (3480), always “Nazoraian” here. The A. V. often translates either word “of Nazareth”, and Ναζαρηνός is the more proper of the two forms for that. Thayer does not put “of Nazareth” in his definition for Ναζωραῖος. According to Moulton - Geden, which some mss. may vary from, Ναζαρηνός is found at Mark 1:24, 10:47, 14:67, 16:6; Luke 4:34 and 24:19, and Ναζωραῖος is found at Matt. 2:23 and 26:71; Luke 18:37; John 18:5 and 7, and 19:19; Acts 2:22, 3:6, 4:10, 6:14, 22:8, 24:5, and 26:9. Here it is evident that the sect of Christians was called “Nazoraians”, and Josephus writes of the sect about this same time, which Whiston translated “Nazirites”, at Antiquities 19.6.1 (19:294), which can only be referring to Christians. For “Nazirite” in the Old Testament see Numbers chapter 6; Judges. 13:5 and 7, 16:17; Lam. 4:7; and Amos 2:11-12, where in the LXX Greek the word was translated from Hebrew as “consecrated ones”. Before the Judaean followers of Christ were called “Christians” after Yahshua Christ, they were called “Nazoraians” after Yahshua the Nazoraian, evident at Acts 24:5. Initially the jews would not refer to the followers of Christ as “Christians”, nor would they call Jesus the Christ, because the very use of the name admitted the truth! This is why Paul is called in Acts Chapter 25 “a leader of the sect of the Nazoraians”.

That Christ was to be called a Nazarene, is a literal interpretation of the Hebrew word for branch, which is netzar, Strong's number 5342, which is translated branch at Isaiah 11:1. This word also apparently gave the town of Nazareth its name.

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