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2. Visit of the Magi and Flight to Egypt

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2Saying, 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. 3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented 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. 13And when they were departed, behold, the 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 bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14When he arose, he 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 of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called 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 children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and 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, 20Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which 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 did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

23. He shall be called a Nazarene Matthew does not derive Nazarene from Nazareth, as if this were its strict and proper etymology, but only makes an allusion. The word נזיר, or Nazarite, signifies holy and devoted to God, and is derived from נזר, to separate. The noun נזר, indeed, signifies a flower:221221     It would have been more correct to say that the noun נזר signifies a crown than a flower. “Thou shalt put the holy crown,” את נזר הקדש, (Exodus 29:6.) “Thou hast profaned his crown,” נזרו, (Psalm 89:39.) It is satisfactory to have the support of so eminent a critic as Dr Tholuck, who, in his very correct edition of Calvin's Commentary on the New Testament, after the word florem, flower, places in brackets an emendation similar to what we have suggested: “vel potius, diadematis insigne,” or rather, the emblem of a crown.” — Ed. but Matthew refers, beyond all doubt, to the former meaning. For we nowhere read that Nazarites meant blooming or flourishing, but persons who were consecrated to God, according to the directions given by the Law, (Numbers 6.) The meaning is: though it was by fear that Joseph was driven into a corner of Galilee, yet God had a higher design, and appointed the city of Nazareth as the place of Christ’s residence, that he might justly be called a Nazarite But it is asked, who are the prophets that gave this name to Christ? for there is no passage to be found that answers to the quotation. Some think it a sufficient answer, that Scripture frequently calls him Holy: but that is a very poor explanation. For Matthew, as we perceive, makes an express reference to the very word, and to the ancient Nazarites, whose holiness was of a peculiar character. He tells us, that what was then shadowed out in the Nazarites, who were, in some sense, selected as the first-fruits to God, must have been fulfilled in the person of Christ.

But it remains to be seen, in what part of Scripture the prophets have stated that this name would be given to Christ. Chrysostom, finding himself unable to loose the knot, cuts it by saying, that many books of the prophets have perished. But this answer has no probability: for, though the Lord, in order to punish the indifference of his ancient people, deprived them of some part of Scripture, or left out what was less necessary, yet, since the coming of Christ, no part of it has been lost. In support of that view, a strange blunder has been made, by quoting a passage of Josephus, in which he states that Ezekiel left two books: for Ezekiel’s prophecy of a new temple and kingdom is manifestly distinct from his other predictions, and may be said to form a new work. But if all the books of Scripture which were extant in the time of Matthew, remain entire to the present day, we must find somewhere the passage quoted from the prophets.

Bucer222222     A contemporary of our author, who was greatly admired, not only for the extent of his learning in a very learned age, but for the soundness of his judgment. He is hardly ever mentioned but with deep respect. — Ed. has explained it, I think, more correctly than any other writer. He thinks that the reference is to a passage in the Book of Judges: The child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb, (Judges 13:5.) These words, no doubt, were spoken with regard to Samson. But Samson is called the “Redeemer” or “Deliverer”223223     The remaining words of the passage (Judges 13:5) are: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines; which our author interprets as having a prophetic reference to Christ. — Ed. of the people, only because he was a figure of Christ, and because the salvation, which was accomplished by his instrumentality, was a sort of prelude of the full salvation, which was at length exhibited to the world by the Son of God.224224     “Le salut qu'a receu le peuple par son moyen, a este comme une representation ayant quelques traces du vray et parfait salut, lequel finalement le Fils de Dieu a apporte et presente au monde.” — “The salvation which the people received by his agency was, as it were, a representation, having some traces of the true and perfect salvation, which the Son of God finally brought and presented to the world.” All that Scripture predicts, in a favorable manner, about Samson, may justly be applied to Christ. To express it more clearly, Christ is the original model: Samson is the inferior antitype.225225     “Pour le dire plus clairement en deux mots, Christ est le vray patron accompli en perfection, mais Samson est un pourtrait legerement tire et trac, dessus.” — “To state it more clearly in two words, Christ is the true Defender fulfilled in perfection: but Samson is a portrait lightly traced and drawn below.” When he assumed the character of a Redeemer,226226     Deliverer. we ought to understand, that none of the titles bestowed on that illustrious and truly divine office apply so strictly to himself as to Christ: for the fathers did but taste the grace of redemption, which we have been permitted to receive fully in Christ.

Matthew uses the word prophets in the plural number. This may easily be excused: for the Book of Judges was composed by many prophets. But I think that what is here said about the prophets has a still wider reference. For Joseph, who was a temporal Savior of the Church, and was, in many respects, a figure, or rather a lively image of Christ, is called a Nazarite of his brethren,227227     In both of the passages quoted above, the words נזיר אחיו are rendered, in the English version, separated from his brethren. This brings out pretty faithfully the meaning of נזיר, separated, but does not suggest the allusion, which Calvin supposes to be made to the peculiar acceptation given by the ceremonial law to נזיר, from which our word Nazarite is derived. Hebrew scholars must judge for themselves as to the probability of the allusion. Without entering into that inquiry, which would occupy more space than we could easily spare, we have thought it due to our Author to hint, that the two passages which he quotes, and which at first sight appear to have no bearing on his argument, contain the very word in questlon. — Ed. (Genesis 49:26; Deuteronomy 33:16.) God determined that the distinguished honor, of which he had given a specimen in Joseph, should shine again in Samson, and gave him the name of Nazarite, that believers, having received those early instructions, might look more earnestly at the Redeemer who was to come, who was to be separated from all,

“That he might be the first-born among many brethren,”
(Romans 8:29.)


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