Matthew chapter 2

Wise men from the East visit the newborn Messiah. The family flees to Egypt. King Herod massacres infants. The family settles in Nazareth.




SUMMARY: The birth of Jesus in this chapter and in Luke chapter 2 seem to clash. But they can be harmonized into a into a seamless narrative!


VERSE 1. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying,

wise men from the east. They are sometimes referred to as “magi” or “astrologers.” They were a priestly caste from Persia. They probably practiced magic and astrology

The verse does not say there were three. The notion of “three wise men” was a Medieval accretion.


VERSE 2. “Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.”

For we saw his star in the east. In the ancient world it was commonly believed that a star appeared upon the birth of a ruler. Biblically, this may have been alluded to in Numbers 24:17:

Numbers 24:17. I see him, but not now. I see him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob. A scepter will rise out of Israel, and shall strike through the corners of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth.


VERSE 3. When King Herod heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.


VERSE 4. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ would be born.


VERSE 5. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is written through the prophet,

this is written through the prophet. This is a reference to the prophet Micah:

Micah 5:2. But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come out to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings out are from of old, from ancient times.


VERSE 6. ‘You Bethlehem, land of Judah, are in no way least among the princes of Judah: for out of you shall come a governor, who shall shepherd my people, Israel.’ ”


VERSE 7. Then Herod secretly called the wise men, and learned from them exactly what time the star appeared.


VERSE 8. He sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young child. When you have found him, bring me word, so that I also may come and worship him.”


VERSE 9. They, having heard the king, went their way; and behold, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was.


VERSE 10. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. They were overjoyed! Being on the path to Jesus Christ is a path of joy!


VERSE 11. They came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

the house. The Greek word is οἰκίαν (“oikia”). It means a house, household, dwelling.

Artists show the three wise men meeting the infant Messiah in a stable. However, this verse shows us they were in a house.

the young child. Jesus is referred to as a “hpaidion.” That means child, rather than a “hbrephos” which means newborn infant.

they fell down and worshiped him. Jesus Christ is not just a good teacher or a wonderful leader. He is God.

gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What did Mary ever do with these?


VERSE 12. Being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country another way.

Being warned in a dream. Joseph was able to discern that this dream was from God, and not merely from himself. Many people are too eager to assume that an unusual experience is directly from God, when in fact it might have been from self.

they went back … another way. Once you meet Jesus Christ, your life is changed. You cannot go back to the way it was before.

1 Kings 13:10. So he went another way, and didn’t return by the way that he came to Bethel.

Ezekiel 46:9. No one shall return by the gate through which he has entered, but he shall leave by the opposite gate. (NAB translation)

Matthew 2:12. Being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country another way.




VERSE 13. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.”


VERSE 14. He arose and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt,


VERSE 15. and was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Out of Egypt I called my son. This is from Hosea 11:1:

Hosea 11:1. When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.




VERSE 16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent out, and killed all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding countryside, from two years old and under, according to the exact time which he had learned from the wise men.


VERSE 17. Then that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying,

spoken by Jeremiah the prophet. This is from Jeremiah 31:15:

Jeremiah 31:15. the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”


VERSE 18. “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; she wouldn’t be comforted, because they are no more.”




VERSE 19. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying,


VERSE 20. “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the young child’s life are dead.”


VERSE 21. He arose and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.


VERSE 22. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there. Being warned in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee,


VERSE 23. and came and lived in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

He will be called a Nazarene. This might refer to the taking of the Nazarite vow. A Nazarite is a holy one who refrains from wine and the cutting of their hair. See Numbers chapter 6.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.