Matt 2:1 Now when Yeshua (Jesus) was born in Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Herod - This was “Herod the Great” the first of several rules from the Herodian dynasty. He was a Idumean, a descendant of Esau.
The letter corresponding to chapter two is Beit - House.
Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) means “House of Bread”.
Beit also implies duality as in husband and wife; also division between good and evil. Evil certainly lifts its head and tries to destroy the Messiah and many Jewish children because they have brought the Messiah to the world. This happened during the time of Moshe also (again this is a another clue on how He would be like Moshe). This form of hatred has happened many times in history. It continues today and will happen again in the future. This is a sad thing to contemplate and some want to deny the prophecies and not take what the Word says literally about future events. Human nature does not want to accept or wants to remain in denial concerning horrible things. There is a spiritual battle going on in this world and sometimes there are physical consequences to it and we cannot hide from them. There are also some who try to deny that the Holocaust even happened. The adversary of Job still hates the Jewish people not only because of the Messiah but also because they helped bring us the Word. This adversary of Job has many children just like HaShem. Herod was one of them and his actions reveal it. He did not care this child was sent from above or that it was prophecy being fulfilled. He only looked at it on how it affected his own self-centered motives or how it affected his status in life.
Wise men - Magi
They were not Kings but magicians or astrologers, possibly Zoroastrian Wise men from Persia whose knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures could be traced back to the time of Daniel. They were the priestly tribe of Medes. Daniel had been made master of the Magi.
Daniel 5:11"There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father, illumination, insight, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, your father the king, appointed him chief of the magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans, and diviners. (See also Dan 2:10, 2:27, 4:7)
Daniel no doubt taught them the prophecies concerning the Messiah. So some of the Magi may have become true believers in the G-d of Israel. It is probably a group of these G-d fearing Magi that come to Israel in search of the Messiah. Here we see the difference between good and evil.
The magi had been very influential for centuries, in the Babylonian and Media-Persian empires. They still had great influence the Middle East during the Roman Empire. There had been a few previous attempts by the Eastern Empire to revolt against the Roman Empire prior to this and the Magi were on the lookout for a new King to lead them in revolt against the Romans.
The magi were “king makers” and NO ONE was crowned “King” in the middle east with out the blessing of “the magi”. This was not a small group of 3 guys quietly riding in on camels. This was an entourage. When the Magi traveled they wore conical hats and long flowing garments. They rode Persian steeds and were accompanied by a cavalry of 1,000 mounted men.
Matt 2:2 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.
Saying - implies “Questioning”. Sounds like they rode into town and did not go straight to Herod and ask “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” This implies that they were stopping people on the street and asking them. Apparently they assumed that “the whole town” would know where the Mashiach had been born.
The people of Jerusalem must have been stunned to here the news. “King Makers” have arrived in Jerusalem to crown the next Jewish King.
The following verse foretold that a star would be associated with Messiah’s birth.
Num 24:17 I will see Him, but not now: I will behold Him, but not near: there will come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter will rise out of Israel, and will smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
Matt 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Herod was not Jewish, but was given the title “King of the Jews” by Caesar Augustus. So to hear the “King Makers” question everyone in town about the birth of the “King of the Jews” he must have been shaking in his boots. Apparently the people in Jerusalem were equally worried.
Matt 2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Mashiach (Christ) should be born.
Not knowing the scriptures himself he gathered the greatest Bible Scholars of his day to find out where the Messiah was to be born. They didn’t have to research. There was NO debate. They all knew the answer.
Matt 2:5 And they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for it is written by the prophet,
Here we see it again “it was written ”
Matt 2:6 But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you will come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.' "
Part of this verse was fulfilled when Yeshua was born in Israel. The rest of the verse is a long-term prophecy and will be fulfilled when Mashiach comes again. He will rule from His throne in Jerusalem.
Micah 5:1 But you, Beit-Lechem near E’frat (Bethlehem Ephratah), though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you will He come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been “FROM of OLD”, “FROM EVERLASTING”.
Note: In the Tanakh this verse is listed as Micah 5:1 not Micah 5:2.
Notice the words of the Prophet Micah:
“FROM of OLD”, means from ancient times, from the beginning.
“FROM EVERLASTING” - Eternity past.
Only G-d is “from Old” - “from everlasting”
We learn here that the Mashiach would be born in Beit-Lechem. Beit-Lechem is about 5 miles from Jerusalem. 5 MILES!!! Yet, the religious leaders did not bother to accompany the gentile Magi to Beit-Lechem to see if their Mashiach had truly been born. Most did not care that prophecy was being fulfilled before their very eyes.
This is an amazing prophecy. The Mashiach was to be born in Beit-Lechem. However, this was not to be His start. He was to be from eternity past. Only G-d himself could exist before He was born. This is mind-boggling.
In the Targum of Jonathan we find this fascinating quote regarding the birth of Mashiach:
“And you O Beit-Lechem Ephratah, you who were too small to be numbered among the thousands of the house of Judah, from you will come forth before Me the Messiah, to exercise dominion over Israel, he whose name was mentioned before, from the days of creation.”
In the Babylonian Talmud in Sotah 9b, the Mashiach is referred to as: “being even loftier than the ministering angels.”
Matt 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
Matt 2:8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also.
Yeh right. He wanted to worship him.
Worship - only G-d is to be worshipped. These very influential men humbled themselves before this little child because He would be a future King. If Daniel taught their ancestors they would know about time the Messiah would be cut off; therefore, figuring the approximate time of birth they only had to look for the star to find the true Messiah.
Matt 2:9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was.
Young child - Yeshua was not an infant. Based on what the Magi told Herod, Yeshua was probably at least a year old or older. Think about it. They had to see the “star”, discuss if it was the star prophesied in Num 24:17, pack their bags, and traveled hundreds of miles. This all took time.
Matt 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
This is not your standard star. It is not possible to know exactly what this “star” was; one possibility is that it was the “Shekinah” that guided the Israelites in the days of the Exodus.
Exodus 13:21 And the L-RD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
G-d uses this special “celestial body” that guided the Magi to Yeshua.