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2. Visit of the Magi and Flight to Egypt
1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Wise-men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, 2Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born. 5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written through the prophet,
6And thou Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Art in no wise least among the princes of Judah:
For out of thee shall come forth a governor,
Who shall be shepherd of my people Israel.
7Then Herod privily called the Wise-men, and learned of them exactly what time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search out exactly concerning the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word, that I also may come and worship him. 9And they, having heard the king, went their way; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him; and opening their treasures they offered unto him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13Now when they were departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I tell thee: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14And he arose and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt; 15and 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 did I call my son.
16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the Wise-men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the male children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had exactly learned of the Wise-men. 17Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying,
18A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she would not be comforted, because they are not.
19But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead that sought the young child's life. 21And he arose and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither; and being warned of God in a dream, he withdrew into the parts of Galilee, 23and came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene.
4. Having assembled the priests Though deep silence prevailed respecting Christ in the Hall of Herod, yet, as soon as the Magi have thrown out the mention of a King, predictions are remembered, which formerly lay in oblivion. Herod instantly conjectures, that the King, about whom the Magi inquire, is the Messiah whom God had formerly promised, (Daniel 9:25.) Here again it appears, that Herod is seriously alarmed, when he puts such earnest inquiries; and no wonder. All tyrants are cowards, and their cruelty produces stronger alarm in their own breasts than in the breasts of others. Herod must have trembled more than others, because he perceived that he was reigning in opposition to God.
This new investigation shows, that the contempt of Christ, before the arrival of the Magi, must have been very deep. At a later period, the scribes and high priests labored with fury to corrupt the whole of the Scripture, that they might not give any countenance to Christ. But on the present occasion they reply honestly out of the Scripture, and for this reason, that Christ and his Gospel have not yet given them uneasiness. And so all ungodly persons find no difficulty in giving their assent to God on general principles; but when the truth of God begins to press them more closely, they throw out the venom of their rebellion.
We have a striking instance of this, in our own day, among the Papists. They freely own, that he is the only-begotten Son of God, clothed with our flesh, and acknowledge the one person of God-man, as subsisting in the two natures. But when we come to the power and office of Christ, a contest immediately breaks out; because they will not consent to take a lower rank, and much less to be reduced to nothing. In a word, so long as wicked men think that it is taking nothing from themselves, they will yield to God and to Scripture some degree of reverence. But when Christ comes into close conflict with ambition, covetousness, pride, misplaced confidence, hypocrisy, and deceit, they immediately forget all modesty, and break out into rage. Let us therefore learn, that the chief cause of blindness in the enemies of truth is to be found in their wicked affections, which change light into darkness.