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least among the princes of Juda : for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall • rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
• Or feed.
of Juda, &c.—This quotation agrees nei- be read interrogatively,—"Art thou litther with the Hebrew, nor the Septuagint; tle?” Thus, in the Syriac translation, for which difference, it has been remarked, we have, num parva es?” whilst the the council of priests and not the evan- Arabic uses the negative, “nequaquam es gelist was responsible. If indeed the minima,” and so agrees with the sense of quotation was given by St. Matthew in the Hebrew, which manifestly is, that these exact words, this view is sufficiently Bethlehem, although an obscure town, satisfactory; and as they no doubt ren- was to be dignified by the birth of Mesdered the passage from the Hebrew to siah. “The thousands of Judah,” is renHerod, either in Greek or the Palestinian dered in Matthew the princes of Judah, dialect, it is to be regarded as their ex- which is only another mode of expressing temporaneous translation, and gives the the same thing; for the tribes were sense of the Hebrew with sufficient accu. divided into thousands, over every one racy. But if St. Matthew quotes the of which was placed a PRINCE, or chief. passage from the prophet, his variations Thus the real agreement of St. Matthew stand on the same ground as all others with the Hebrew is manifest. It is, howwhich occur in his Gospel, and in those ever, here to be notcied, that the whole of the following evangelists. With prophecy in Micah is not adduced ; for respect to these variations, they are not it was the custom of the Jews, when always important; for it may be gene. quoting their scriptures for argument or rally observed, says Bishop Randolph, illustration, to cite only the introductory that, on comparing them, “it will appear parts of a section to which they made how nearly the citations in the New Tes- reference, supposing those to whom they tament agree with the original Hebrew, spoke or wrote to be familiar with the though they sometimes quote from the whole, as indeed they generally were. Septuagint, and perhaps other transla- Though therefore the quotation does tions or paraphrases." The passage, as not give the complete prophecy, we are it stands in Micah v. 2, is, “But thou, referred by it to the whole section in Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be lit- which it stands, which extends through tle among the thousands of Judah, yet out several verses, and is an illustrious reveof thee shall he come forth unto me that lation of the divinity and official glory of is to be ruler in Israel.” For “ Bethlehem that Prince of Judah who was indeed to Ephratah” St. Matthew has, “ Bethlehem be born in Bethlehem, but whose "goings in the land of Juda,” which is but ano- forth were of old, even from everlasting.” ther designation of the same town. In the "This prophecy of Micah,” says Dr. Old Testament it has the name of Bethle- Hales, “is perhaps the most important hem Judah ; Judges xvii. 7. The princi- single prophecy in the Old Testament, pal variation is in the negative, ovdauws, and the most comprehensive, respecting “by no means the least,” whereas our the personal character of the Messiah, translation makes the prophet Micah to and his successive manifestation to the say, “ Though thou be little.” Though, world. It crowns the whole chain of prohowever, is not in the Hebrew, which may phecies descriptive of the several limita
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 | And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him : and when they had opened their treasures,
tions of the blessed Seed of the woman, to words are used to denote emphasis and the line of Shem, to the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to the tribe of Ju. Verse 11. And fell down and wordah, and to the royal house of David, here shipped him. The same Greek word is terminating in his birth at Bethlehem, used to express both divine worship and the city of David. It carefully distin- the prostrate homage which the people of guishes his human nativity from his eter- the east paid to their kings. Thus Xeno. nal generation ; foretels the rejection of phon, describing the respect paid to the Israelites and Jews for a season, their Cyrus by his subjects, says, · When final restoration, and the universal peace the people saw him, παντες προσεκύνησαν, destined to prevail throughout the earth they all worshipped him." in the regeneration.' It forms, there. word worship, as formerly used, had this fore, the basis of the New Testament;
double sense. In this case the Magi paid which begins with his human birth at our Lord RoyAL homage ; but whether Bethlehem, the miraculous circumstances with any reserence also to his divinity of which are recorded in the introductions does not so clearly appear as some of the of Matthew's and Luke's Gospels ; his fathers would have it understood. And eternal generation, as the ORACLE, or yet, as the fact of Messiah having been Wisdom, in the sublime introduction of born was made known to them by a John's Gospel; his prophetic character divine revelation, intimations of his diand second coming, illustrated in the four vinity might also be given, and their worGospels and the Epistles ; ending with a ship be paid to him under his highest prediction of the speedy approach of the character. As for the gifts presented. latter, in the Apocalypse, Rev. xxii. 20.” gold, frankincense, and myrrh, it may be
Verse 9. And, lo, the star, which they remarked, that no person in ancient times saw in the east, &c.— If the star guided in those countries appeared before a supethem the whole way to Judea, which is rior without a present.
These were of not to be inferred from the history, it the most costly kind, and such only as disappeared upon their entrance into Ju- were presented to the greatest personages. dea, and left them to their own judgment; That these Magi were men of rank as well and, as they were in search of him who as philosophers, is the voice of tradition. was born “
King of the Jews,” they natu- Thus in their lower sense and earliest rally directed their course to the metropo- application were those prophecies fullis. It was upon their departure from filled, Jerusalem to Bethlehem that the star
“ Nations shall come to thy light, again appeared ; and at this, according to And princes to the brightness of thy rising:
The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts." our version, " they rejoiced with exceeding great joy,” which is an excellent transla. Opened their treasures. That is, the tion of εχαρησαν χαραν μεγαλην σφοδρα, packages and vessels which contained where, as in passages which sometimes them; the word being applied, not to the occur in Greek and Latin authors, similar contents, but to the containing receptacle.
they ‘presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word : for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
• Or offered.
Thus Cicero calls memory “the treasure which bear so striking a resemblance to of all things;" and Virgil, the vessels in some of the predictions of Isaiah, as to which honey is preserved,
the glorious and peaceful reign of Mes
siah, and the great changes to be wrought servataque mells thesauris.
in his days in the state of society? And, Several very important ends were answer-finally, how are we to account for the ed by the visit of the Magi. It showed journey of these Magi from the east ? that the expectation of the appearance of The simple circumstance of the appearMessiah about that time was not only ance of an extraordinary meteor could entertained by Jews, but by Gentiles; and not alone indicate that the Messiah, the therefore that the prophecies in the He- King of the Jews, was already born; brew scriptures were not the only sources a direct verbal revelation must be supof information on that interesting subject. posed, answering no doubt to the general Either several of the same prophecies had information previously existing among been transmitted by the heads of those them, and communicating the intelligence families which had branched off from the that he whom they expected was in fact common Abrahamic stock, or the relics born, and that he was born in Judea. Of of the ten tribes in different eastern coun- this revelation the appearance of the star tries had communicated those annuncia- was the supernatural sign, which becaine tions of Messiah contained in the Penta- still more indubitable when it went before teuch; or the proselytes, “the strangers” them and directed their steps to Bethwho occasionally went up to worship God lehem. Another end answered by this at Jerusalem, circulated the leading doc. event was, that the public inquiry made tripes and hopes of the Jewish church; by these strangers for “the King of the or revelations were occasionally made on Jews,” whom they knew to have been rethe subject of “the great salvation of cently born, turned the attention of the God” to pious Gentiles in different places inhabitants of the Jewish metropolis to and at different times. How else shall the fact of his birth, which probably they we account for so general an expectation then for the first time heard; the annunof the appearance of the great Restorer, ciation of the shepherds being probably as which certainly existed ? “For,” says yet confined to the neighbourhood in Suetonius, “ an ancient and settled per- which it took place. But a still higher suasion prevailed throughout the east, that purpose was, to bring forth a public testithe fates had decreed some one to pro- mony from the highest ecclesiastical and ceed from Judea, who would attain uni- theological authority among the Jews, as versal empire.” How also shall we ac- to the birth-place of Messiah having been count for the Sibylline prophecies which previously recorded by one of their own Virgil has embodied in his Pollio, and prophets to be Bethlehem of Judah, and
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt :
15 And was there until the death of Herod : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
c Hosea xi. 1.
to show that it was a matter of universal journey the gifts of the wise men afforded agreement among them, that that illus- a seasonable, and, as it appears, an abuntrious prophecy, in all its parts, belonged dant supply. “ There is no counsel to Messiah, and consequently that the against the Lord.” Christ of prophecy stood in opposition to Verse 14. And departed into Egypt.those low conceptions which they after- From the time of the conquest of Egypt wards indulged as to the simple humanity by Alexander the Great, the Jews were of the Messiah, and were contradicted by settled in great numbers in its principal a passage which attributes positive divi- cities, and especially in Alexandria. There nity as well as real humanity to him, and they established their own worship, and which, in full council, and in answer to maintained a constant intercourse with the question of Herod their king, they their own countrymen in Judea. Joseph declared to be a prophecy of the Christ. would therefore naturally reside among To the Messiah, as described by Micah, his own people, during his stay in Egypt, the Messiah which the Jews have ever and, being out of Herod's jurisdiction, expected does not answer; but to the was safe. Messiah of this prophecy our blessed Lord Verse 15. Out of Egypt have I called my is the exact counterpart; he was born in Son.—This is cited from Hosea xi. 1 ; and Bethlehem, and yet his “goings forth has been often adduced, by those who have been from the days of eternity.” consider the quotations from the Old TesThe whole history is also beautifully in- tament in the evangelists as mere accomstructive, as one of those numerous in- modated allusions, founded upon some stances with which the scriptures abound vague and undesigned resemblances, as a of the manner in which an unseen, but pregnant proof of their theory. But it is ever-watchful, ever-active power overrules here to be recollected, that the evangelist the purposes of men, even when they are introduces the quotation with the formula, opposed to that issue which is evolved by that it might be fulfilled," as in chap. i. unanticipated circumstances, and frus- 22, 23, on which see the note. Now this trates equally their subtilty and their formula is just as appropriate when a type power. Herod, in his own true character is referred to, as a prophecy; for when of malignant cunning, wishes to make the
the type is not one of human fancy, but Magi the instruments of conveying to of divine appointment, in each case there him the intelligence of this new-born heir is an accomplishment, or completion ; beof the throne of David, and affects to par- cause a type is predictive, and differs only take of their joy, and to be ready to do from a prophecy in form. The passage, him homage ; but, warned of God, they as it stands in Hosea, is, “When Israel depart home by another route, and thus was a child, then I loved him, and called their safety is provided for, which might my Son out of Egypt ;” and, as these have been compromised by an act of con- words were spoken of the people Israel, structive treason, in acknowledging ano- the question is, whether, in any respects, ther king beside him ; whilst his sangui- the people Israel bore a typical characnary purpose was delayed, to give the holy ter ? This must be granted, because family time to hasten down to Egypt, be. nothing is more certain, both from the yond the reach of his power; for which style of the Hebrew prophets, and from
16 | Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew
the writings of St. Paul, than that Israel “Jacob my servant,—and Israel mine “after the flesh” is often made the type of elect.” Here too the Jewish uninspired “the Israel of God,” or of the Christian writers afford a proof that they understood church; and the deliverance of the for- the Messiah to be typified by Israel. mer from Egypt the type of our redemption Thus Dr. Allix remarks, that the author by Christ. It will be pertinent next to in- of Midrash Tehillim on Psalm ii. 7, says, quire, whether by the prophet Hosea the “The mysteries of the King Messiah are term Israel is not sometimes used in a declared in the Law, the Prophets, and sense not literal, and under which, there- the Hagiographa.” In the Law it is writfore, some religious mystery is contained. ten, (Exodus iv. 22,) " Israel is my son, Of this we have an instance in chap. xii. even my first-born." Hence Rabbi Na3–6 : “By his strength he had power than in Schemoth Rabba on those words with God: yea, he had power over the speaks thus : “As I made Jacob my firstangel, and prevailed : he wept, and made born, (Exodus iv. 22,) so have I made supplication unto him. Therefore turn Messiah my first-born, as it is said, Psalm thou to thy God : keep mercy and judg- lxxxix. 27, ‘I will make him my firstment, and wait on thy God continually.” born, higher than the kings of the earth.” Here, indeed, there is not a typical use of Thus then, as we find Messiah called Jathe real Jacob or Israel ; but the people cob and Israel, and no other reason can Israel are personated and identified with be assigned for this but that something in their progenitor, and under that character, the case and history of the people of Israel as Israel, “a prince which had power was realized in him, in the sense of corwith God,” they are exhorted, as though respondence with an instituted type, the they had been Jacob or Israel himself, words of Hosea were intended to indicate, to “turn to God,” and to “ wait on him at least in one respect, in what the type continually,” in order to prevail. This is consisted, and those of the evangelist how sufficient to prove, that this prophet does the type was "fulfilled in him.” Israel not always confine himself to one simple was in Egypt subject to a foreign power, view in the use of the term Israel. and in a lowly state; but was brought out But it will throw still greater light from thence, and, after various trials and upon the subject, if we consider that the wanderings in the desert, was raised to people Israel are sometimes spoken of dominion and glory among the nations. as one person, and called God's “son,” So our Lord was for a time in Egypt, in and his “first-born,” which indicates that subjection to a foreign dominion, and in Israel was intended to be in some particu- a lowly condition; but was called from lars the type of some individual : and who thence, that, after his season of trial and could this be but “the Son,” and “the humiliation, he might be exalted to glory First-born ” of God, the Messiah? To and universal dominion. It is in these which we may add this strong confirmation, particulars that the type was fulfilled. that the Messiah himself is by the prophets Israel the typical son, and Jesus the true called Israel, doubtless for this reason, for Son, were each called out of Egypt, by no other can be assigned, that he was, in special interposition of God, to accomplish some respects or other, typified by the his great purposes, and to be raised to people Israel. Thus, in Isaiah xlix. 3, honour, and invested with dominion. where Jehovah is introduced speaking to We may therefore conclude, that the Messiah, he says, “ Thou art my servant, Holy Spirit first dictated the passage O Israel, in whom I will be glorified ; quoted to Hosea, and then directed St. and Isaiah xlii. 1,—“Behold my servant, Matthew to refer the call of Christ out of whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my Egypt to the same passage, as an accomsoul delighteth,” is, in the Septuagint, plishment of it, in order to explain in