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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in
the days of King Herod, 2 behold, magi from the east arrived
saying, "Where is the newborn king of the
Jews? We saw his star 3 at its rising and have come to do
When King Herod heard this, he was greatly
troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the
scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 4
They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no
means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who
is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
Then Herod called the magi secretly and
ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go
and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set
out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until
it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
5 and on entering the house they saw the child
with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they
opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return
to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
6 When they had departed, behold, the angel of
the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and
his mother, flee to Egypt, 7 and stay there until I tell
you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him."
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother
by night and departed for Egypt.
8 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that
what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of
Egypt I called my son."
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by
the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in
Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time
he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah
9 "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and
loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be
consoled, since they were no more."
When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the
Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
and said, "Rise, take the child and his
mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are
He rose, took the child and his mother, and
went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling
over Judea in place of his father Herod, 11 he was afraid to
go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the
region of Galilee.
12 He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He
shall be called a Nazorean."
1 [1-12] The future rejection of
Jesus by Israel and his acceptance by the Gentiles are retrojected into this
scene of the narrative.
2  In the days of King Herod: Herod
reigned from 37 to 4 B.C. Magi: originally a designation of the Persian
priestly caste, the word became used of those who were regarded as having more
than human knowledge. Matthew's magi are astrologers.
3  We saw his star: it was a common
ancient belief that a new star appeared at the time of a ruler's birth. Matthew
also draws upon the Old Testament story of Balaam, who had prophesied that
"A star shall advance from Jacob" (⇒ Numbers
24:17), though there the star means not an astral phenomenon but the
4  Herod's consultation with the
chief priests and scribes has some similarity to a Jewish legend about the
child Moses in which the "sacred scribes" warn Pharaoh about the
imminent birth of one who will deliver Israel from Egypt and the king makes
plans to destroy him. ⇒ Matthew 2:11: Cf
⇒ Psalm 72:10, ⇒ 15;
⇒ Isaiah 60:6. These Old Testament texts led to the
interpretation of the magi as kings.
5  ⇒ Psalm
72:10; ⇒ Psalm 72:15;
⇒ Isaiah 60:6; These Old Testament texts led to the
interpretation of the magi as Kings.
6 [13-23] Biblical and nonbiblical
traditions about Moses are here applied to the child Jesus, though the dominant
Old Testament type is not Moses but Israel (⇒ Matthew
7  Flee to Egypt: Egypt was a
traditional place of refuge for those fleeing from danger in Palestine (see
⇒ 1 Kings 11:40; ⇒ Jeremiah
26:21), but the main reason why the child is to be taken to Egypt is
that he may relive the Exodus experience of Israel.
8  The fulfillment citation is
taken from ⇒ Hosea 11:1. Israel, God's son, was
called out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus; Jesus, the Son of God, will similarly
be called out of that land in a new exodus. The father-son relationship between
God and the nation is set in a higher key. Here the son is not a group adopted
as "son of God," but the child who, as conceived by the holy Spirit,
stands in unique relation to God. He is son of David and of Abraham, of Mary
and of Joseph, but, above all, of God.
9  ⇒ Jeremiah
31:15 portrays Rachel, wife of the patriarch Jacob, weeping for her
children taken into exile at the time of the Assyrian invasion of the northern
kingdom (722-21 B.C.). Bethlehem was traditionally identified with Ephrath, the
place near which Rachel was buried (see ⇒ Genesis
35:19; ⇒ 48:7), and the mourning of Rachel
is here applied to her lost children of a later age. Ramah: about six miles
north of Jerusalem. The lamentation of Rachel is so great as to be heard at a
10  For those who sought the
child's life are dead: Moses, who had fled from Egypt because the Pharaoh
sought to kill him (see ⇒ Exodus 2:15), was told to
return there, "for all the men who sought your life are dead"
(⇒ Exodus 4:19).
11  With the agreement of the
emperor Augustus, Archelaus received half of his father's kingdom, including
Judea, after Herod's death. He had the title "ethnarch" (i.e.,
"ruler of a nation") and reigned from 4 B.C. to A.D. 6.
12  Nazareth . . . he shall be
called a Nazorean: the tradition of Jesus' residence in Nazareth was firmly
established, and Matthew sees it as being in accordance with the foreannounced
plan of God. The town of Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and no
such prophecy can be found there. The vague expression "through the
prophets" may be due to Matthew's seeing a connection between Nazareth and
certain texts in which there are words with a remote similarity to the name of
that town. Some such Old Testament texts are ⇒ Isaiah
11:1 where the Davidic king of the future is called "a bud"
(neser) that shall blossom from the roots of Jesse, and
⇒ Judges 13:5, 7 where
Samson, the future deliverer of Israel from the Philistines, is called one who
shall be consecrated (a nazir) to God.
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