“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
Jesus was born about 5 B.C. We know this because Herod the Great died in 4 B.C., a year after Jesus was born. Herod was born in 73 B.C. and named the king of Judea by the Roman Senate in 40 B.C. He was half Jew and half Idumean (Edomite). He became paranoid in his last years, and so he killed close acquaintances, his wife, Mariamne, and two of his sons by Mariamne. He killed a third son five days before his death.
The “wise men” or Magi who came from the East were probably of the priestly caste of Medes who interpreted dreams. The term was later used for those who took an interest in the stars and did not make a distinction between the science of astronomy and the superstition of astrology. They sustained a place of great prominence in what would be Iran and Iraq today, and may have come from Babylon. The Magi rose to great political power during the Roman Empire, exercising powers of divination as they advised royalty, earning the title “wise men.” These people appear in the Bible in Jeremiah 39:3 and in Daniel 2:10, 27; 4:7,9; 5:11.
The wise men came some time after the birth of Christ, when Joseph and Mary lived in a house (v. 11).
Bethlehem was a small town south of Jerusalem. The most important fact about Bethlehem was that it was the home of the great king of Israel, David.
saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
The wise men here were truth seekers who wanted to know something beyond their power of magic. They still had great influence in the time of Christ (Ac 8:4-23; 13:6-11). There is no evidence that there were only three wise men; in all probability there were many wise men.
Notice that the wise men assumed that Jesus was already king, not a king to come.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Herod was afraid of a revolt against Rome and against his rule in particular. The arrival of the wise men became an issue throughout the city of Jerusalem. This rattled Herod to the core—he was “troubled.” The Greek word carries the idea of agitating, shaking. This scene shook him because he sat on a powder keg of rebellious Jews in Jerusalem who wanted independence from Rome.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
Herod was both Jew and Gentile in heritage. As a Jew, Herod knew that the Messiah and the King of the Jews were one and the same. That is why he wanted to kill Jesus.
Herod consulted with “the chief priests and scribes” together. The chief priests consisted of all ex-high priests, the captain of the Temple, and any other priests from a select group of Temple overseers. All these people had seats in the 70-member group called the Sanhedrin. The chief priests ministered in the Temple and ran Israel politically as a national theocratic entity.
The scribes were scholars and authorities on the law of the Old Testament. They believed the Bible. Sadducees were at the opposite end of the theological spectrum. Herod called both politicians and theologians together.
So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
The political and religious leaders said that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. The book of Micah gave the precise location of his birth.
Matthew’s quote of Micah 5:2 demonstrates the connection between the prophecies of Messiah and Jesus’ royal line.
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
Matthew identified the place of Jesus’ birth as Bethlehem in Judea and not Bethlehem in Zebulun (Joshua 19:15).
This prophecy is from the eighth century B.C.
Matthew adds “a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” This was not part of the book of Micah. Matthew had the right under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to add further comments to Micah.
Many people know facts of the Bible without engaging with its truth.
Like Herod, there are people today who deem that Jesus would interfere with their lives. He violates their goals and plans. Probably the greater number of people today look on Jesus with indifference, as did religious leaders of Christ’s day.