of Jesus Christ. W when Jesus was born in there came wise men from the East A.M. 4001.



No Bethlehem of Judea, in the to Jerusalem,

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days of Herod the king, behold,

The birth

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* Luke 2. 4, 6, 7.


Verse 1. Bethlehem of Judea] This city is mentioned in Judges xvii. 7. and must be distinguished from another of the same name in the tribe of Zebulon, Josh. xix. 15. It is likewise called Ephrath, Gen. xlviii. 7. or Ephratah, Mic. v. 2. and its inhabitants Ephrathites, Ruth i. 2. 1 Sam. xvii. 12. It is situated on the declivity of a hill, about six miles from Jerusalem. On n' Beth-lechem, in Hebrew, signifies the house of bread. And the name may be considered as very properly applied to that place where Jesus, the Messiah, the true bread that came down from heaven, was manifested, for to give life to the world. But lehem also signifies flesh, and is applied to that part of the sacrifice which was burnt upon the altar. See Lev. iii. 11-16. xxi. 6. The word is also used to signify a carcase, Zeph. i. 17. The Arabic version has Beet lehem, and the Persic Beet alle hem: but lehem, in Arabic, never signifies bread, but always means flesh. Hence it is more proper to consider the name as signifying the house of flesh, or, as some might suppose, the house of the incarnation, i. e. the place where God was manifested in the flesh for the salvation of a lost world.

In the days of Herod the king] This was HEROD, improperly denominated the GREAT, the son of Antipater, an Idumean he reigned 37 years in Judea, reckoning from the time he was created king of that country by the Romans. Our blessed Lord was born in the last year of his reign; and at this time, the sceptre had literally departed from Judah, a foreigner being now upon the throne.

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As there are several princes of this name mentioned in the New Testament, it may be well to give a list of them here, together with their genealogy.

Herod, the Great, married ten wives, by whom he had several children, Euseb. 1. i. c. 9. p. 27. The first was Doris, thought to be an Idumean, whom he married when but a private individual; by her he had Antipater, the eldest of all his sons; whom he caused to be executed five days before his own death.

His second wife was Mariamne, daughter to Hircanus, the sole surviving person of the Asmonean, or Maccabean, race. Herod put her to death. She was the mother of Alexander and Aristobulus, whom Herod had executed at Sebastia, (Joseph. Antiq. l. xvi. c. 13.-de Bello 1.i. c. 17.) on an accusation of having entered into a conspiracy against him. Aristobulus left three children, whom I shall notice hereafter.

His third wife was Mariamme, the daughter of Simon, a person of some note in Jerusalem, whom Herod made High


2 Saying, Where is he that is born

Gen. 10. 30. & 25. 6. 1 Kings 4. 30.- Le Luke 2. 11.

priest in order to obtain his daughter. She was the mother of Herod Philippus, or Herod Philip, and Salome. Herod or Philip married Herodias, mother to Salome, the famous dancer, who demanded the head of John the Baptist, Mark vi. 22. Salome had been placed in the will of Herod the Great, as second heir after Antipater; but her name was erased, when it was discovered that Mariamne her mother, was an accomplice in the crimes of Antipater, son of Herod the Great. Joseph. de Bello, lib. i. c. 18, 19, 20.

His fourth wife was Malthaké, a Samaritan, whose sons were Archelaus and Philip. The first enjoyed half his father's kingdom under the name of Tetrarch, viz. Idumea, Judea, and Samaria: Joseph. Antiq. 1. xvii. c. 11. He reigned nine years; but being accused and arraigned before the Emperor Augustus, he was banished to Vienna, where he died: Joseph. Antiq. 1. xvii. c. 15. This is the Archelaus mentioned in

verse 22.

His brother Philip married Salome, the famous dancer, the daughter of Herodias; he died without children, and she was afterwards married to Aristobulus.

The fifth wife of Herod the Great was Cleopatra of Jerusalem. She was the mother of Herod, surnamed Antipas, who married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, while he was still living. Being reproved for this act by John the Baptist, Matt. xiv. 3. Mark vi. 17. Luke iii. 19. and having imprisoned this holy man, he caused him to be beheaded, agreeable to the promise he had rashly made to the daughter of his wife Herodias, who had pleased him with her dancing. He attempted to seize the person of Jesus Christ, and to put him to death. It was to this prince, that Pilate sent our Lord, Luke xiii. 31-32. He was banished to Lyons, and then to Spain, where both he and his wife Herodias died. Joseph. Antiq. l. xv. c. 14.—de Bello, l. ii. c. 8.

The sixth wife of Herod the Great was Pallas, by whom he had Phasaelus: his history is no ways connected with the New Testament. ·

The seventh was named Phædra, the mother of Roxana, who married the son of Pheroras.

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viz. Agrippa, Herod, and Herodias, so famous for her incestuous marriage with Antipas, in the lifetime of his brother Philip.

AGRIPPA, otherwise named Herod, who was imprisoned by Tiberius for something he had inconsiderately said against him, was released from prison by Caligula, who made him king of Judea: Joseph. Antiq, 1. xviii. c. 8. It was this prince who put St. James to death, and imprisoned Peter, as mentioned in xii. of Acts. He died at Cæsarea, in the way mentioned in the Acts, as well as by Josephus, Antiq. 1. xix. c. 7. He left a son named Agrippa, who is mentioned below.

HEROD, the second son of Aristobulus, was king of Chalcis, and after the death of his brother, obtained permission of the emperor to keep the ornaments belonging to the High priest, and to nominate whom he pleased to that office: Joseph. Antiq. l. xx. c. 1. He had a son named Aristobulus, to whom Nero gave Armenia the lesser, and who married Salome, the famous dancer, daughter to Herodias.

3 ¶ When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

from the East-Herod is troubled.

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HERODIAS, the daughter of Mariamne and Aristobulus, is the person of whom we have already spoken, who married successively the two brothers Philip and Antipas, her uncles, and who occasioned the death of John the Baptist. By her first husband, she had Salome, the dancer, who was married to Philip, tetrarch of the Trachonitis, the son of Herod the Great. Salome having had no children by him, she was married to Aristobulus, her cousin german, son of Herod,|| king of Chalcis, and brother to Agrippa and Herodias: she had by this husband several children.

This is nearly all that is necessary to be known relative to the race of the Herods, in order to distinguish the particular persons of this family mentioned in the New Testament. See Basnage, Calmet, and Josephus.

There came wise men from the East] Or, Magi came from the eastern countries. "The Jews believed that there were prophets in the kingdom of Saba and Arabia, who were of the posterity of Abraham by Keturah: and that they taught in the name of God, what they had received in tradition from the mouth of Abraham."-WHITBY. That many Jews were mixed with this people there is little doubt; and that

b Prov. 21. 1, 2.

Mogh and Moghan, which the Kushuf ul Loghat, a very eminent Persian lexicon, explains by Cwyl atush perest, a worshipper of fire; which the Persians suppose all the

AGRIPPA, Son of Herod Agrippa, king of Judea, and grand-inhabitants of Ur in Chaldea were, among whom the prophet son to Aristobulus and Mariamne; he was at first king of Abraham was brought up. The Mohammedans apply this Chalcis, and afterwards tetrarch of Galilee, in the room of title by way of derision to Christian monks in their associate his uncle Philip: Joseph. Antiq. 1. xx. c. 5. It was before capacity: and by a yet stronger catachresis, they apply it to a him, his sister Berenice, and Felix, who had married Drusilla, tavern, and the people that frequent it. Also, to ridicule in Agrippa's second daughter, that St. Paul pleaded his cause, the most forcible manner the Christian priesthood, they call as mentioned Acts xxvi. the tavern-keeper peeri Mughan, the priest, or chief of the idolaters. It is very probable, that the persons mentioned by the Evangelist were a sort of astrologers, probably of Jewish extraction, that they lived in Arabia Felix, and for the reasons above given, came to worship their new born sovereign. It is worthy of remark, that the Anglo-saxon translates the word Mayo by tungal-pitegan, which signifies astrologers, from tuncgol, a star or planct, and przen, to know or understand.

Verse 2. We have seen his star] Having discovered an unusual luminous appearance or meteor in the heavens, supposing these persons to have been Jews, and knowing the prophecies relative to the redemption of Israel, they probably considered this to be the star mentioned by Balaam, Numb. xxiv. 17. See the note there.

these eastern Magi or philosophers, astrologers or whatever
else they were, might have been originally of that class, there
is room to believe. These, knowing the promise of the Mes-
siah, were' now, probably, like other believing Jews, waiting
for the consolation of Israel. The Persic translator renders
the Greek Mayo by
mejooseean, which properly sig-
nifies a worshipper of fire; and from which we have our word
magician. It is very probable that the ancient Persians, who
were considered as worshippers of fire, only honoured it as
the symbolical representation of the Deity: and seeing this
unusual appearance, might consider it as a sign, that the God
they worshipped was about to manifest himself among men.
Therefore they say, We have seen his star-and are come to
worship him; but it is more likely, that the Greeks made their
Mayo Magi, which we translate wise men, from the Persian

In the East] Εν τη ανατολή, At its rise. Ανατολη and δυσμη

are used in the New Testament for east and west.

To worship him.] Or, To do him homage: #gorxu¥NOKI QUTU. The word gruve, which is compounded of eos to, and xuer a dog, signifies to crouch and fawn, like a dog at his master's feet. It means, to prostrate oneself to another, according to the eastern custom, which is still in use. In this act, the per

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son kneels, and puts his head between his knees, his forehead at || the same time touching the ground. It was used to express both civil and religious reverence. In Hindostan, religious homage is paid, by prostrating the body at full length, so that the two knees, the two hands, forehead, nose, and cheeks, all touch the earth at the same time. This kind of homage is paid also to great men. AYEEN AKBERY, vol. iii. p. 227.

As to what is here called a star, some make it a meteor, others a luminous appearance like an Aurora Borealis ; others a comet! There is no doubt, the appearance made was very striking: but it seems to have been a simple meteor provided for the occasion. See on ver. 9.

Verse 3. When Herod-heard these things, he was troubled] Herod's consternation was probably occasioned by the agreement of the account of the Magi, with an opinion predominant throughout the East, and particularly in Judea, that some great personage would soon make his appearance, for the deliverance of Israel from their enemies; and would take upon himself universal empire.

distributed into so many courses, 1 Chron. xxiv. These latter are stiled non sarey ha-cohanim, chief of the priests, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14. Ezra viii. 24. and non roshey ha-cohanim, heads of the priests, Neh. xii. 7. Josephus calls them by the same name as the writers of the New Testament. In his life, sect. 8. he mentions oλλOUS-TWV ARXIEREWIN MANY of the chief priests. The word is used in the singular in this last sense, for a chief of the priests, Acts xix. 14. Scribes] The word reaμpatus, in the Septuagint, is used for a political officer, whose business it was to assist kings and civil magistrates, and to keep an account in writing of public acts and occurrences. Such an officer is called in Hebrew on seper ha-melech, ò ygappateuS TOU BαciλEWS, the king's scribe, or secretary. See LXX. 2 Kings xii. 10.

The word is often used by the LXX. for a man of learning, especially for one skilled in the Mosaic law and in the same sense, it is used by the New Testament writers. Igaμates is' therefore to be understood as always implying a man of letters, or learning, capable of instructing the people. The derivation of the name proves this to be the genuine meaning of the word yeaμpa, a letter, or character, in writing: or veaμμata, letters, learning, erudition, and especially that gained from books. The Hebrew or sopher, from saphar, to tell, count, cypher, signifies both a book, volume, roll, &c. and a notary, recorder, or historian; and always signifies a man of learning.

Percrebuerat Oriente toto, vetus et constans opinio, esse in fatis, ut eo tempore Judæâ profecti rerum potirentur. Id de imperatore Romano, quantum eventu postea predictum patuit, Judai ad se trakentes, rebellârunt. SUETON. VESP. "An ancient and settled persuasion prevailed throughout the East, that the Fates had decreed some to proceed from Judea, who should attain universal empire. This persuasion, which the event proved to respect the Roman emperor, the Jews applied to themselves, and therefore rebelled."

The word is used Acts xix. 35. for a civil magistrate at Ephesus, probably such an one as we would term recorder. It appears that Herod at this time gathered the whole Sanhedrin, in order to get the fullest information on a subject, by which all his jealous fears had been alarmed.

The words of Tacitus are nearly similar:

Pluribus persuasio inerat, antiquis sacerdotum literis contineri, eo ipso tempore fore, ut valesceret Oriens, profectique Judæá rerum potirentur. Quæ ambages Vespasianum ac Titum prædixerant.

Verse 5. In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet] As there have been several confused notions among the Jews, relative not only to the Messiah, and his character, but also to the time of his birth; it may be necessary to add to what has already been said on this subject, the following extracts from the Talmudists and Gemarists, quoted by LIGHTFOOT. At the close of a long dissertation on the year of our Lord's birth, (which he places in the 35th of the reign of Herod, not the last or 37th as above,) he says,

"Many were persuaded, that it was contained in the ancient books of their priests, that at that very time the East should prevail: and that some should proceed from Judea and possess the dominion. It was Vespasian and Titus that these ambiguous prophecies predicted." Histor. v. Verse 4. The chief priests] Not only the high-priest for the" It will not be improper here to produce the Gemarists time being, called win in cohen ha-rosh, 2 Kings xxv. 18. themselves openly confessing that the Messias had been born, and his deputy called now in cohen mishneh, with those who a good while ago before their times. For so they write: After had formerly borne the high-priest's office; but also, the chiefs || this the children of Israel shall be converted, and shall enquire or heads of the twenty-four sacerdotal families, which David after the Lord their God, and David their king: Hos. iii, 5.


SUETONIUS and TACITUS, two Roman historians, mention this. Their words are very remarkable :

Mal. 2. 7.- Mic. 5. 2. John 7. 42. Luke 2. 4.

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Our Rabbins say, That is King Messias, If he be among the demption, and you shall be brought back to the holy mountain, living, his name is David, or if dead, David is his nume. to the inheritance of your fathers, why, therefore, should you R. Tanchum said, Thus I prove it: He sheweth mercy to Da-misspend your penny? vid his Messiah. (Psalm xviii. 50) R. Joshua ben Levi saith, "You may fetch the reason of this calculation, if you have His name is ny tsemach, a Branch. (Zech. iii. 8.) R. Juban || leisure, out of the tract Sanhedrin. The tradition of the school bar Arbu saith, His name is Menahem. (That is, wagaxλntos, || of Elias, the world is to last six thousand years, &c. And a the Comforter.) "And that which happened to a certain Jew, little after, Elias said to Rabh Judah, The world shall last not as he was ploughing, agreeth with this business. A certain less than eighty-five jubilees: and in the last jubilee shall the Arabian travelling, and hearing the ox bellow, said to the Jew Son of David come. He saith to him, Whether in the begin at plough, O Jew, loose thy oxen, and loose thy ploughs, for|| ning of it, or in the end? He answered him, I know not. behold the temple is laid waste. The ox bellowed the second Whether is this whole time to be finished first, or not? He antime; the Arabian saith to him, O Jew, Jew, yoke thy oxen, swered him, I know not. But Rabh Asher asserts, that he anand fit thy ploughs: so sobo 1 For behold! King swered thus, Until then, expect him not, but from thence expect Messiah is born. But suith the Jew, What is his name? Me- him. Hear your own countrymen, O Jew, how many cennahem, saith he. (i. e. the Comforter.) And what is the name turies of years are past by and gone from the eighty-fifth of his Father? Hezekiah, saith the Arabian. To whom the jubilee of the world, that is, the year MMMMCCL, and yet Jew, But whence is He? The other answered, From the palace the Messias of your expectation is not yet come. of the king of Bethlehem Judah. Away he went, and sold his oxen and his ploughs, and became a seller of infants' swaddling || clothes, going about from town to town. When he came to that city, (Bethlehem) all the women bought of him, but the mothered of the Baptist, whether he were not the Messias, Luke of Menahem bought nothing. He heard the voice of the women iii. 15. Hence it was, that the Jews are gathered together saying, O thou mother of Menahem, thou mother of Menahem, || from all countries unto Jerusalem, Acts ii. expecting, and comcarry thy son the things that are here sold. But she replied, ing to see, because at that time, the term of revealing the May the enemies of Israel be strangled, because on the day that Messias, that had been prefixed by Daniel, was come. Hence he was born, the temple was laid waste. To whom he said, But it was, that there was so great a number of false Christs, Matt. we hoped, that as it was laid waste at his feet, so at his feet it xxiv. 5, &c. taking the occasion of their impostures hence, would be built again. She saith, I have no money. To whom that now the time of that great expectation was at hand, and he replied, But why should this be prejudicial to him? Carry fulfilled and in one word, They thought the kingdom of God him what you buy here, and if you have no money to day, after should presently appear: Luke xix. 11. some days I will come back and receive it. After some days, he returned to that city, and saith to her, How does the little infunt? And she said, From the time you saw me last, spirits and tempests came, and snatched him away out of my hands.” R. Bon saith, What need have we to learn from an Arabian? Is it not plainly written, And Lebanon shall fall before the powerful one? (Isa. x. 34.) And what follows after? A branch shall come out of the root of Jesse. (Isa. xi. 1.)

"Daniel's weeks had so clearly defined the time of the true Messias his coming, that the minds of the whole nation were raised into the expectation of him. Hence it was doubt

"But when those times of expectation were past, nor did such a Messias appear, as they expected, (for when they saw the true Messias, they would not see him) they first broke out into various, and those wild, conjectures of the time; and at length, all those conjectures coming to nothing, all ended in this curse, (the just cause of their eternal blindness) sprawna be in May their soul be confounded, who com pute the times." They were fully aware, that the time fore told by the prophets, must be long since fulfilled; and that their obstinacy must be confounded by their own history, and the chronology of their own Scriptures; and therefore they have pronounced an anathema on those who shall attempt to examine, by chronological computations, the prophecies that predict his coming. Who can conceive a state of wilful blindness or determined obstinacy superior to this!

"The Babylonian doctors yield us a confession not very unlike the former. R. Charinah saith: After four hundred years are past from the destruction of the temple, if any one shall say to you, Take to thyself for one penny a field worth a thousand pence, do not take it. And again, After four thousand two hundred thirty and one years from the creation of the world, if any shall say to you, Take for a penny, a field worth a thousand pence, take it not, The gloss is, For that is the time of re

Verse 6. And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda] To dis

The wise men find the Christ;

and offer him gifts.

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8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, An. Olymp. 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.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young An. Olymp. child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.


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.

12 And being warned of God in a dream, that they should not return to Herod, they de

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with parted into their own country another way. exceeding great joy. 13 And when they were departed, behold,

1 Kings 19. 2. ch. 21. 19. Job 5. 12. Isa. 44. 25.


tinguish it from Bethlehem, in the tribe of Zebulon: Josh. type of Christ, who was a keeper of his father's sheep, before xix. 15. See on ver. 1. he was raised to the throne of Israel. As the government of a good king was similar to the care a good shepherd has of his flock, hence ny signified both shepherd and king; and Tospas, to feed and to rule, among the ancient Greeks.

Verse 8. That I may come and worship him also.] See ver. 2, and on Gen. xvii. 3. and Exod. iv. 31. What exquisite hypocrisy was here! he only wished to find out the child that he might murder him-but see, how that God who searches the heart, prevents the designs of wicked men from being accomplished!

Art not the least]. In Micah v. 2. it is read, Though thou be little- rys tsair lehayoth, little to be. Houbigant, struck with the oddness of the construction of the Hebrew, by dividing the last word, and making a small change in two of the letters, makes the Prophet agree with the Evangelist, nun sb myy tsâir lo hayita, thou art not the least. Several learned men are of opinion, that the copy from which St. Matthew quoted, had the text in this way. However, some MSS. of very good note, among which is the Codex Beza, hare μη ελαχιστη ε, for ουδαμως ελαχιστη ει, Art thou not the least? This reconciles the Prophet and Evangelist without farther trouble. See the authorities for this reading in Griesbach and Wetstein.

Or, offered. Ps. 72. 10. Isai. 60. 6. ch. 1. 20.

Among the princes of Juda] In Micah v. 2. it is, the thousands of Judah. There is much reason to believe, that each tribe was divided into small portions called thousands, as in England certain small divisions of counties are called hundreds. For the proof of the first, the Reader is referred to Judg. vi. 15. where, instead of my FAMILY is poor in Manasseh, the Hebrew is, my THOUSAND (58) is the meanest in Manasseh: and to 1 Sam. x. 19. Present yourselves before the Lord by your TRIBES and by your THOUSANDS: and to 1 Chron. xii. 20. || Captains of the THOUSANDS of Manasseh. Now these THOUSANDS being petty governments, Matthew renders them by the word xy, because the word princes or governors was more intelligible in the Greek tongue, than thousands, though in this case, they both signify the same. See Wakefield.

Verse 9. In the East] Or, at its rise. See ver. 2.

Stood over where the young child was.] Super caput pueri, Over the head of the child, as the OPUS IMPERFECTUM, on this place, has it. See Griesbach's Var. Lect. So it appears to have been a simple luminous meteor, in a star-like form, and at a very short distance from the ground, otherwise it could not have ascertained the place where the child lay. But the last quoted reading, from the Opus Imperfectum, justifies the opinion, that the luminous appearance which had hitherto directed them, now encompassed the head of the child and probably this gave the first idea to the ancient painters, of representing Christ in the manger, with a glory surrounding his head.

Verse 11. They presented unto him gifts] The people of the East never approach the presence of kings and great personages, without a present in their hands. This custom is often noticed in the Old Testament, and still prevails in the East, and in some of the newly discovered South-sca Islands.

Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.] Some will have these

hood of Christ. 66

That shall rule my people Israel.] Oσtis Toμave, Who shall FEED my people. That is, as a shepherd feeds his to be emblematic of the Divinity, regal office, and manAmong the Greeks, kings are called, by Homer, λawy ToμEYES, They offered him incense as their God; shepherds of the people. This appellation probably originated gold as their king; and myrrh, as united to a human body, from the pastoral employment, which kings and patriarchs subject to suffering and death.” Aurum, thus, myrrhạm, regidid not blush to exercise in the times of primitive simplicity : que, DEO, HOMINIQUE, dona ferunt. JUVENCUs. Rather, they and it might particularly refer to the case of David, the great offered him the things which were in most esteem among

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