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to express another. Thus, a fable may be said to be fulfilled, when an event occurs similar to the one concerning which it was first spoken. A parable has its fulfilment, in all the cases to which it is applicable; and so of a proverb, or a declaration respecting human nature. A virgin shall be with child. Matthew clearly understands this as applying literally to a virgin. Compare Luke i. 34. It thus implies that the conception of Christ was entirely miraculous, or that the body of the Messiah was produced directly by the power of God, of the substance of his mother, agreeably to the declaration Heb. x. 5, "Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he sayeth, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me." Emmanuel. This is a Hebrew word, and means, literally, God with us. Matthew doubtless understands this word as denoting that the Messiah was really "God with us;" or that the Divine nature was united to the human. He does not affirm that this was its meaning when used in reference to the child to whom it was first applied; but this was its meaning as applicable to the Messiah. It was fitly expressive of his character; and in this sense it was fulfilled. When first used by Isaiah, it denoted simply that the birth of the child was a sign that God was with the Jews, to deliver them. The Hebrews often used the name of Jehovah, or God, in their proper names. Thus, Isaiah means "The salvation of Jehovah ;" Eleazer, "Help of God;" Eli, "My God," &c. But Matthew evidently intends more than was denoted by the simple use of such names. He had just given an account of his miraculous conception -of his being begotten by the Holy Ghost. God was therefore his Father. He was Divine as well as human; his appropriate name was, "God with us." And though the mere use of such a name would not prove that he had a Divine nature, yet as Matthew uses it, and meant evidently to apply it, it does prove that Jesus was more than a man,-that he was God as well as man. And it is this which gives glory to the plan of redemption; it is this which is the wonder of angels; it is this which makes the plan so vast, so grand, so full of instruction and comfort to Christians, (see Phil. ii. 6-8); it is this which sheds such peace and joy into the sinner's heart-which gives him such security of salvation-and renders the condescension of God in redemption so great, and his character so lovely.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son: and he called his name JESUS.
a Luke ii. 7, 21.
25. Knew her not. The doctrine of the virginity of Mary before the birth of Jesus is a doctrine of the Scriptures, and very important to be believed; but the Scriptures do not affirm that she had no children afterwards. Indeed all the accounts in the New Testament lead us to suppose that she had. See Notes on Matt. xiii. 55, 56. The language here evidently implies, that she lived as the wife of Joseph after the birth of Jesus. Her first-born son. Her eldest son, or he that by the law had the privilege of birth-right. This does not of necessity imply that she had other children; though it seems probable. It was the name given to the son which was first born, whether there were others or not. His name JESUS. This was given by divine appointment. Ver. 21. It was conferred on him on the eighth day, at the time of his circumcision. Luke ii. 21.
1. The prophecies regarding our Saviour, his miracles, and his resurrection from the dead, are, throughout the New Testament, chiefly referred to in proof of his being "the Son of David,"-the Messiah promised to the fathers.
2. The world is filled with books, recording the births, lives, and actions, of great men,—and celebrating their praises. Not to know what happened before we were born, is to be children. From these histories much may be learned; but it will profit us nothing, unless, with all our reading and learning, we learn Christ. We have here a simple account of the miraculous conception and birth of him who is " Emmanuel,”-God with us. But for his birth (and performance of that work for which he was born), we had endured to all eternity the curse due to sin. Christ, for his people, has done all that was required to satisfy the Divine justice, and purchase salvation. If we get not a saying interest in Christ, all shall be lost-soul and body. Now we may have Christ. It is
3. "Christ was equally from the beginning, in his Father's view, for the interest of believers, in all ages preceding his advent, as if he had already lived, and died, and risen again-a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; for he sees through all generations and successions of time, and all things in them are always alike present to his eye. But in the time the Church was held in prefiguring shadows, this was their grand desire, that Christ might appear in the flesh; still looking and waiting when the day should break, and the shadows flee away. This is now the great
wish of his spouse-the Church, and of each particular soul espoused to him, that he should come again as he has promised; and he will do so. What a sweet echo there (Rev. xxii. 17) of Come! The Spirit says, Come! and the Bride says, Come! and he says (ver. 20), Behold, I come quickly; and they resound, again, Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus !"-Leighton.
1 The wise men out of the east are directed to Christ by a star. 11 They worship him, and offer their presents. 14 Joseph fleeth into Egypt, with Jesus and his mother. 16 Herod slayeth the children: 20 himself dieth. 23 Christ is brought back again into Galilee to Nazareth.
OW when "Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
a Luke ii. 4, 6, 7. The Fourth Year before the Common Account called Anno Domini. b 1 Kings iv. 30. Ver. 1. When Jesus was born. See the full account of his birth in Luke ii. 1-20. ¶ In Bethlehem of Judea. Bethlehem, the birth-place of Christ, was a small town about six miles south of Jerusalem. The word Bethlehem denotes "house of bread;" perhaps given to the place on account of its great fertility. It was also called Ephrata; a word supposed likewise to signify fertility. Gen. xxxv. 19; Ruth iv. 2; Ps. cxxxii. 6. It was called the city of David (Luke ii. 4), because it was the city of his nativity. 1 Sam. xvi. 1, 18. It was called Bethlehem of Judea, to distinguish it from a town of the same name in Galilee. Josh. xix. 15. The soil of Bethlehem was noted for its fertility. Ancient travellers frequently spoke of its productions. The town is situated on an eminence, in the midst of hills and vales. At present it contains about 200 houses, inhabited chiefly by Christians and Mohammedans, who live together in peace. About 200 paces east of Bethlehem, the place is still shown where our Saviour is supposed to have been born. There is a church and a convent there; and beneath the church, a subterranean chapel, which is lighted by 32 lamps—which is said to be the place where was the stable in which Jesus was born. No reliance is, however, to be placed on this tradition. Herod the king. Judea, where our Saviour was born, was a province of the Roman empire. It was taken about 63 years before, by Pompey, and placed under tribute. Herod received his appointment from the Romans, and had reigned, at the time of the birth of Jesus, 34 years. Though he was permitted to be called king, yet he was in all respects dependent on the Roman emperor. He was commonly called Herod the Great, because he had distinguished himself in the wars with Antigonus, and his other enemies; and because he had evinced great talents, as well as great cruelties and crimes, in governing and defending his country, in repairing the temple, and in building and ornamenting the cities of his kingdom. At this time Augustus was emperor of Rome; the world was at peace; all the known nations of the earth were united under the Roman emperor; intercourse between different nations was easy and safe; similar laws prevailed; the use of the Greek language was general throughout the world. All these circumstances combined to render this a favourable time to introduce the Gospel, and to spread it through the earth; and the providence of God was remarkable in fitting the nations, in this manner, for the easy and rapid spread of the Christian religion among all nations. ¶ Wise men. The original word here is pay, from which comes our word magician; now used in a bad sense, but not so in the original. The persons here denoted were philosophers, priests, or astronomers. They dwelt chiefly in Persia and Arabia. They were the learned men of the eastern nations; devoted to astronomy, to religion, and to medicine. They were held in high esteem by the Persian court, were admitted as counsellors, and followed the camps in war, to give advice. From the east. It is unknown whether they came from Persia or Arabia. Both countries might be denoted by the word east, that is, east from Judea. Jerusalem. The capital of Judea. As there is frequent reference in the New Testament to Jerusalem, as it was the place of the public worship of God, as it was the place where many important transactions in the life of the Saviour occurred, and the place where he died, it seems desirable to present a brief description of it. A more full description may be seen in Calmet's Dictionary, and in the common Works on Jewish antiquities.-Jerusalem was the capital of the kingdom of Judah, and was built on the line dividing this tribe from the tribe of Benjamin. It was once called Salem (Gen. xiv. 18; Ps. lxxvi. 2), and in the days of Abraham was the abode of Melchizedek. When the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land they found this stronghold in the possession of the Jebusites, by whom it was called Jebus, or Jebusi. Josh. xviii. 28. The name Jerusalem was compounded probably of the two, by changing a single letter, and calling it, for the sake of the sound, Jerusalem instead of Jebusalem. The ancient Salem was probably built on Mount Moriah or Acra-the eastern and western mountains on which Jerusalem was sub
sequently built. When the Jebusites became masters of the place, they erected a fortress in the southern quarter of the city, which was subsequently called Mount Zion, but which they called Jebus; and although the Israelites took possession of the adjacent territory (Josh. xviii. 28), the Jebusites still held this fortress or upper town until the time of David, who wrested it from them (2 Sam. v. 7-9), and then removed his court from Hebron to Jerusalem-which was thenceforward known as the city of David. 2 Sam. vi. 10, 12; 1 Kings viii. 1. Jerusalem was built on several hills; Mount Zion on the south; Mount Moriah on the east, on which the temple was subsequently built (see Notes on chap. xxi. 12); Mount Acra on the west, and Mount Bezetha on the north. Mount Moriah and Mount Zion were separated by a valley called by Josephus the Valley of Cheesemongers, over which there was a bridge or raised way leading from the one to the other. On the south-east of Mount Moriah, and between that and Mount Zion, there was a bluff or high rock, capable of strong fortification, called Ophel. The city was encompassed by hills. On the west there were hills which overlooked the city; on the south was the valley of Jehoshaphat, or the valley of Hinnom (see Notes on Matt. v. 22), separating it from what is called the Mount of Corruption; on the east was the valley or the brook Kedron, dividing the city from the Mount of Olives; and on the north the country was more level-though it was a broken or rolling country. To the south-east the valleys of the Kedron and Jehoshaphat united, and the waters flowed through the broken mountains in a south-east direction to the Dead Sea-some 15 miles distant. The city of Jerusalem stands in 31° 50′ north latitude, and 35° 20′ east longitude, from Greenwich. It is 34 miles south-easterly from Jaffa (the ancient Joppa), which is its sea-port; and 120 miles southwesterly from Damascus. The best view of the city of Jerusalem is from Mount Olivet on the east (see Notes on Matt. xxiv.); the mountains on the east being somewhat higher than those on the west. The city was anciently enclosed within walls-a part of which are still standing. The position of the walls has been at various times changed-as the city has been larger or smaller, or as it has extended in different directions. The wall on the south formerly included the whole of Mount Zion, though the modern wall runs over the summit, including about half of the mountain. In the time of the Saviour, the northern wall enclosed only Mounts Acra and Moriah north-though after his death Agrippa extended the wall so as to include Mount Bezetha on the north. About half of that is included in the present wall. The limits of the city on the east and the west being more determined by the nature of the place, have been more fixed and permanent. The city was watered in part by the fountain of Siloam, on the east (for a description of which, see Notes on Luke xiii. 4); and in part by the fountain of Gihon, on the west of the city, which flowed into the vale of Jehoshaphat; and in the time of Solomon, by an aqueduct, part of which is still remaining, by which water was brought from the vicinity of Bethlehem. The "pools of Solomon," three in number, one rising above another, and adapted to hold a large quantity of water, are still remaining in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The fountain of Siloam still flows freely, though the fountain of Gihon is commonly dry. A reservoir or tank, however, remains at Gihon. Jerusalem had, its highest splendour in the time of Solomon. About 400 years after, it was wholly destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. It lay utterly desolate during the 70 years of the Jewish captivity. Then it was rebuilt, and restored to some degree of its former magnificence, and remained about 600 years, when it was utterly destroyed by Titus, A. D. 70. In the reign of Adrian, the city was partly rebuilt, under the name of Ælia. The monuments of Pagan idolatry were erected in it, and it remained under Pagan jurisdiction until Helena, the mother of Constantine, overthrew the memorials of idolatry, and erected a magnificent church over the spot which was supposed to be the place of the Redeemer's sufferings and burial. Julian, the apostate, attempting to destroy the credit of the prophecy of the Saviour that the temple should remain in ruins (Matt. xxiv.), endeavoured to rebuild the temple. His own historian, Amianus Marcellinus (see Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses), says that the workmen were impeded by balls of fire coming from the earth, and that he was compelled to abandon the undertaking. Jerusalem continued in the power of the eastern emperors till the reign of the caliph Omar, the third in succession from Mohommed, who reduced it under his control about the year 640. The Saracens continued masters of Jerusalem until the year 1099, when it was taken by the crusaders, under Godfrey of Bouillon. They founded a new kingdom, of which Jerusalem was the capital, which lasted 88 years, under nine kings. At last this kingdom was utterly ruined by Saladin; and though the Christians once more obtained possession of the city, yet they were obliged again to relinquish it. In 1217 the Saracens were expelled by the Turks; who have ever since continued in possession of it. Jerusalem has been taken and pillaged 17 times, and millions of men have been slaughtered within its walls. At present there is a splendid mosque (the mosque of Omar) on the site of the temple. It is a city containing a population variously estimated at from 15,000 to 50,000-though probably not far from 20,000-comprising Jews, Turks, Arabs, Armenians, Greeks, and Papists. The Jews have a number of synagogues; the
Catholics have a convent, and have the control of the church of the Holy Sepulchre; the Greeks have twelve convents; the Armenians have three convents on Mount Zion, and one in the city; Copts, Syrians, and Abyssinians, have each of them one convent. The streets are narrow, and the houses are of stone, most of them low and irregular, with flat roofs or terraces, and with small windows only towards the street, usually protected by iron grates. The above description has been obtained from a great variety of sources, and it would be useless to refer to the works where the facts have been obtained.
2 Saying, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
2. Where is he, &c. There was at this time a prevalent expectation that some remarkable personage was about to appear in Judea. The Jews were anxiously looking for the coming of the Messiah. By computing the time mentioned by Daniel (chap. ix. 25-27), they knew that the period was approaching when the Messiah should appear. This personage, they supposed, would be a temporal prince; and they were expecting that he would deliver them from Roman bondage. It was natural that this expectation should spread into other countries. Many Jews at that time dwelt in Egypt, in Rome, and in Greece; many, also, had gone to eastern countries; and in every place they carried their Scriptures, and diffused the expectation that some remarkable person was about to appear. Suetonius, a Roman historian, speaking of this rumour, says :-"An ancient and settled persuasion prevailed throughout the East, that the Fates had decreed some one to proceed from Judea, who should attain universal empire." Tacitus, another Roman historian, 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 one should proceed from Judea, and possess the dominion."+ Josephus, also, and Philo, two Jewish historians, make mention of the same expectation. The fact that such a person was expected is clearly attested. Under this expectation these wise men came to do him homage, and inquired anxiously where he was born? ¶ His star. Among the ancients, the appearance of a star or comet was regarded as an omen of some remarkable event. Many such appearances are recorded by the Roman historians at the birth or death of distinguished men. Thus, they say, that at the death of Julius Cæsar a comet appeared in the heavens, and shone seven days. These wise men also considered this as an evidence that the long-expected Prince was born. It is possible that they had been led to this belief by the prophecy of Balaam (Num. xxiv. 17), “There shall come a star out of Jacob," &c. What this star was, is not known. There have been many conjectures respecting it, but nothing is revealed concerning it. It is most probable that it was a luminous appearance, or meteor, such as we now see sometimes shoot from the sky, or such as appear stationary, which the wise men saw, and which directed them to Jerusalem. It is possible that the same thing is meant which is mentioned by Luke (ii. 9), "The glory of the Lord shone round about them,"―i. e. (see Note on this place), a great light appeared shining around them. That light might have been visible from afar, and have been seen by the wise men in the east. In the east. This does not mean that they had seen the star to the east of themselves, but that, when they were in the east, they had seen this star. As this star was in the direction of Jerusalem, it must have been west of them. It might be translated, "We, being in the east, have seen his star." It is called his star, because they supposed it to be intended to indicate the time and place of his birth. To worship him. This does not mean that they had come to pay him religious homage, or to adore him. They regarded him as the King of the Jews. There is no evidence that they supposed he would be divine. They came to honour him as a Prince, or a King, not as God. The original word implies no more than this. It means to prostrate one's self before another; to fall down and pay homage to another. This was the mode in which homage was paid to earthly kings, and this they wished to pay to the new-born King of the Jews. See the same meaning of the word in Matt. xx. 20, xviii. 26; Acts x. 25; Luke xiv. 10. The English word worship also meant, formerly, "to respect, to honour, to treat with civil reverence."-WEBSTER.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
3. Had heard these things. Had heard of their coming, and of the star, and of the design of their coming. He was troubled. Herod had obtained the kingdom by great crimes, and by shed
ding much blood. He was, therefore, easily alarmed by any remarkable appearances; and the fact that this star appeared, and that it was regarded as proof that the King of the Jews was born, alarmed him. Besides, it was a common expectation that the Messiah was about to appear, and he feared that his reign was about to come to an end. He therefore began to inquire in what way he might secure his own safety, and the permanency of his government. All Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem, and particularly the friends of Herod. There were many waiting for the Consolation of Israel, to whom the coming of the Messiah would be a matter of joy; but all of Herod's friends would doubtless be alarmed at his coming.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and 'scribes of the people together, "he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
e 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14. f2 Chron. xxxiv. 13. g Mal. ii. 7.
4. The chief priests. By the chief priests here are meant not only the high priest and his deputy, but also the heads or chiefs of the 24 classes into which David had divided the sacerdotal families. 1 Chron. xxiii. 6, xxiv; 2 Chron. viii. 14, xxxvi. 14; Ezra viii. 24. Scribes. By the scribes, in the New Testament, are meant learned men, men skilled in the law, and members of the great council. They were probably the learned men, or the lawyers of the nation. They kept the records of the court of justice, the registers of the synagogues, wrote their articles of contract and sale, their bills of divorce, &c. They were also called lawyers (Matt. xxii. 35), and doctors of the law, (Luke v. 17). They were called scribes from the fact of their writing the public records. They were not, however, a religious sect, but might be either Pharisees or Sadducees. By the chief priests and scribes here mentioned, is denoted the sanhedrim, or great council of the nation. This was composed of 72 men, who had the charge of the civil and religious affairs of the Jews. On this occasion, Herod, in alarm, called them together, professedly to make inquiry respecting the birth of the Messiah. Demanded of them. Inquired, or asked of them. As they were the learned men of the nation, and as it was their business to study and explain the Old Testament, they were presumed to know what the prophecies had declared on that point. His object was, to ascertain from prophecy where he was born, that he might strike an effectual blow. He seems not to have had any doubt about the time when he should be born-he was satisfied that the time had come.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
5, 6. By the prophet. The sanhedrim answered without hesitation. It was settled by prophecy. This prophecy is found in Micah v. 2. In that prophecy both the place of his birth and the character of the Messiah are so clearly set forth, that there was no room to doubt. It will be observed, that there is a considerable difference between the passage as quoted by the sanhedrim, and as it stands in Micah. The main point, however, is retained-the place of his birth. We are not concerned, therefore, in showing how these passages can be reconciled. Matthew is not responsible for the correctness of the quotation. He affirms only that they gave this answer to Herod, and that Herod was satisfied. Admitting that they did not quote the passage correctly, it does not prove that Matthew has not reported their answer as they gave it; and this is all that he pretends to give. ¶ Art not the least. In Micah, "though thou be little." Though a small place, so far as population is concerned, yet it shall not be small, or least, in honour; for the Messiah shall be born there. His birth gave the place an honour which could not be conferred on the larger cities, by all their numbers, their splendour, and their wealth. The birth of a distinguished personage was always supposed to give honour and importance to a city or country. A Governor. A Ruler. This is one of the characters of the Messiah, who is the King of his people. John xviii. 37. The word rule here means to rule as a shepherd does his flock, in faithfulness and tenderness. Compare John x. 11, Isa. xl. 10, 11, ix. 7.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
7. Privily. Secretly, privately. He did this to ascertain the time when Jesus was born. ¶ Dili