New American Standard Bible
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.
King James Bible
Then 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 inquired of the wise men.
Darby Bible Translation
Then Herod, seeing that he had been mocked by the magi, was greatly enraged; and sent and slew all the boys which were in Bethlehem, and in all its borders, from two years and under, according to the time which he had accurately inquired from the magi.
World English Bible
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent out, and killed all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding countryside, from two years old and under, according to the exact time which he had learned from the wise men.
Young's Literal Translation
Then Herod, having seen that he was deceived by the mages, was very wroth, and having sent forth, he slew all the male children in Beth-Lehem, and in all its borders, from two years and under, according to the time that he inquired exactly from the mages.
Matthew 2:16 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men - When he saw that he had been deceived by them; that is, that they did not return as he had expected. It does not mean that they did it for the purpose of mocking or deriding him, but that he was disappointed in their not returning, or that he had been trifled with.
Exceeding wroth - Very angry. He had been disappointed and deceived. He expected to send an executioner and kill Jesus alone. But, since he was disappointed in this, he thought he would accomplish the same thing, and be sure to destroy him, if he sent forth and put all the children in the place to death. This is an illustration of the power of anger. It stops at nothing. If it cannot accomplish just what it wishes, it does not hesitate to go much further, and accomplish much more evil than it at first designed. He that has a wicked heart, and indulges in anger, knows not where it will end, and will commonly commit far more evil than he at first intended.
Slew all the children - That is, all the male children. This is implied in the original. The design of Herod was to cut off him that had been born king of the Jews. His purpose, therefore, did not require that he should slay the female children; and though he was cruel, yet we have no right to think that he attempted anything except what he thought to be for his own safety, and to secure himself from a rival.
In all the coasts thereof - The word "coast" is commonly applied now to the regions around the sea, as the seacoast. Here it means the adjacent places, the settlements or hamlets around Bethlehem - all that were in that neighborhood. We do not know how large a place Bethlehem was, nor, of course, how many were slain; but it was never a large town, and the number could not be very great. It is not probable that it contained more than one or two thousand inhabitants, and in this case the number of children killed was not over twenty or thirty.
From two years old and under - Some writers have said that this does not mean, in the original, that they had completed two years; but that they had entered on the second year, or had completed about one year, and entered on the second. But the meaning of the word is doubtful. It is quite probable that they would not be particular about the exact age, but killed all that were about that age.
According to the time ... - He had endeavored to ascertain of the wise men the exact time of his birth. He supposed he knew the age of Jesus. He slew, therefore, all that were of his age; that is, all that were born about the time when the star appeared - perhaps from six months old to two years. There is no reason to think that he would command those to be slain who had been born after the star appeared.
This destruction of the infants of Bethlehem is not mentioned by Josephus, but for this omission three reasons may be given:
1. Josephus, a Jewish historian and a Jew, would not be likely to record anything that would appear to confirm the truth of Christianity.
2. This act of Herod was really so small, compared with his other crimes, that the historian might not think it worthy of record. Bethlehem was a small and obscure village, and the other crimes of Herod were so great and so public, that it is not to be wondered at that the Jewish historian has passed over this.
3. The order was probably given in secret, and might not have been known to Josephus. It pertained to the Christian history; and if the evangelists had not recorded it, it might have been unknown or forgotten. Besides, no argument can be drawn from the silence of the Jewish historian. No reason can be given why Matthew should not be considered to be as fully entitled to credit as Josephus. Yet there is no improbability in the account given by Matthew.
Herod was an odious and bloody tyrant, and the facts of his reign prove that he was abundantly capable of this wickedness. The following bloody deeds will show that the slaying of the infants was in perfect accordance with his character. The account is taken from Josephus, as arranged by Dr. Lardner. Aristobulus, brother of his wife Mariamne, was murdered by his direction at eighteen years of age, because the people of Jerusalem had shown some affection for his person. In the seventh year of his reign, he put to death Hyrcanus, grandfather of Mariamne, then 80 years of age, and who had formerly saved Herod's life; a man who had, in every revolution of fortune, shown a mild and peaceable disposition. His beloved and beautiful wife, Mariamne, had a public execution, and her mother Alexandra followed soon after - Alexander and Aristobulus, his two sons by Mariamne, were strangled in prison by his orders upon groundless suspicions, as it seems, when they were at man's estate, were married, and had children.
In his last sickness, a little before he died, he sent orders throughout Judea requiring the presence of all the chief men of the nation at Jericho. His orders were obeyed, for they were enforced with no less penalty than that of death. When they were come to Jericho he had them all shut up in the circus, and calling for his sister Salome and her husband Alexis, he said to them, "My life now is short, I know the Jewish people, and nothing will please them better than my death. You have them now in your custody. As soon as the breath is out of my body, and before my death can be known, do you let in the soldiers upon them and kill them. All Judea, then, and every family, will, though unwillingly, mourn at my death." No, Josephus says that with tears in his eyes he conjured them, by their love to him and their fidelity to God, not to fail of doing him this honor. What objection, after this account, can there be to the account of his murdering the infants at Bethlehem? Surely there could be no cruelty, barbarity, or horrid crime which such a man was not capable of perpetrating.
LibrarySermon for Epiphany
(From the Gospel for the day) This Sermon on the Gospel for the day, from St. Matthew, showeth how God, of His great faithfulness hath foreseen and ordained all sufferings for the eternal good of each man, in whatever wise they befall us, and whether they be great or small. Matt. ii. 11.--"And they presented unto him gifts: gold, and frankincense and myrrh." NOW consider first the myrrh. It is bitter; and this is a type of the bitterness which must be tasted before a man can find God, when he first …
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler
Eastern Wise-Men, or Magi, visit Jesus, the New-Born King.
Supplementary Note to Chapter ii. The Year of Christ's Birth.
Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
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Jump to NextAngry Bethlehem Borders Boys Children Coasts Countryside Diligently Enquired Exact Exceeding Exceedingly Finding Forth Furious Herod Inquired Killed Learned Magi Male Mocked Slew Surrounding Thereof Time Wise Wroth
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