Summary of passage: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Magi (or Three Wise Men) came to Jerusalem to inquire where the king of the Jews was born at so they may worship him. King Herod was disturbed by this news. He asked all the chief priest’s where the Messiah was to be born and they responded with the words of the prophet Micah: In Bethlehem in Judah.
Herod called the Magi to him secretly and asked them for the exact time of the appearance of the star. He then sent them to Bethlehem to search for the child and then to report back to him so that he too may go and worship the child.
3a) King Herod (ruler of Judea under the Romans), Magi, Jews, chief priests and teachers of the law (Old Testament law), and Israel or the Jews. The Magi are seeking to worship Jesus. King Herod and the Romans are disturbed and threatened by the news. If we include the Jews in “all of Jerusalem” we can presume they are more afraid of what Herod might do upon this news than disturbed. However, we are not told what the response is of the Jews or the priests and teachers.
b) Personal Question. My answer: All. I see indifference, glory, fear, hatred, hostility, and annoyance.
c) Personal Question. My answer: Well, God hasn’t exactly told me personally how I myself am doing but the Bible says I’m supposed to be obedient to His word and obey Him and give myself to Him fully, which is what I try to do every day of my life.
4) Christ’s deity: “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times”; “will come for me”
Christ’s humanity: “out of you (clans of Judah) will come for me”
Christ’s kingship: “ruler over Israel”
Conclusions: Anyone else not trust Herod here? He obviously has ulterior motives here. The guy was hated by all and I’m sure was only obeyed out of fear of punishment or death. Note the wise men did not say they would actually report back to him.
Interesting that the priests quoted Micah out of all the Old Testament verses that speak to Jesus’ coming. I like the subtle differences in translations as well. It shows the differences in terminology and word usage in the 400 years that passed between the Old and the New Testaments. I personally like “shepherd of my people”.
This passage is packed full of interesting notes so bear with me:
Notice Matthew glosses over Jesus’s actual birth and jumps to “after” right away. He is more interested in recording the reaction of others than the actual birth. He leaves that for Luke to describe.
There was another town named Bethlehem; hence, the Bethlehem in Judea and Micah’s description of Bethlehem Ephrathah, which was what Bethlehem used to be known by.
The wise men were not kings but probably astronomers. There were probably more than three that came and they made their journey a significant time after Jesus’s birth–some scholars say up to a year after his birth. Hence, Herod’s order to kill all boys 2 years old and under (Matthew 2:16) as Jesus was probably over a year old by then. They were probably exiled Jews from the East.
So why the Three Kings misnomer? It’s been around since the third century and probably derives from the Old Testament prophecies that say kings will come to worship the Messiah (Psalms 68:29, 31; 72:10-11; Isaiah 49:7; 60:1-6). Supposedly the skulls of the three kings are housed in Cologne, Germany.
Notice that the wise men came to Jerusalem, NOT to Bethlehem as commonly depicted. The shepherds made it to the manger; the wise men did not.
Jesus was born a king; not a prince as is most often the case.
God uses a star, something the astronomers would have recognized instantly.
Background on Herod: Known as Herod the Great as there were quite a few rulers before and after named Herod, Herod ruled Judea, which was a Roman province at the time, for 34 years until his death in 4 BC. Yes, Christ had been born by that time. Blame the ignorance of the Middle Ages and a monk named Dionysius for missing the division between BC and AD!
Herod was a ruthless fighter, a subtle diplomat, and an opportunist. He was hated by the Jews for his unrelentless pursuit of hellenization yet courted their favor by re-building their temple. However, he did bring order to Palestine through his ability to manage so complex a situation and thus an opportunity for economic growth. Many of his family members he had put to death and in the end he disintegrated into madness.
For a much thorough background on Herod, see Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney.
This website HERE has great information on the miscalculation of dates and even a discussion on Jesus’ real birthday.