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that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the 23 prophet, saying: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and

shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanu24 el ;" which, being interpreted, is, God with us.) Then Joseph,

being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bid25 den him ; and took unto him his wife, and knew her not till

name.

put all mankind in the way of sal a virgin, fc. This prediction was vation, for so the word signifies, to originally made by the prophet lay the foundation of a kingdom of Isaiah, and was accomplished in the virtue and holiness as extensive as days of Ahaz, one of the kings of the race, as lasting as the earth. Israel. - Emmanuel. Composed of This aim he most diligently pursu- two Hebrew words, meaning God, ed in all his discourses, during his and with us, i. e. God helpeth us. whole life, and by his exemplary This signifies divine interposition in death. To the last painful breath favor of Ahaz against his foes, an on the cross, to the last word at his appropriate title for Jesus, but one ascension, he never wandered from which is not applied to him anythe furtherance of this great plan. where else in the Bible. The Jews This is the key of his life and death, were accustomed to form and apply

- that he came to save men from appellations indicative of God's their sins; not the consequences goodness, and compounded of his merely, but from sin itself.

Thus, Bethel, house of 22. That it might be fulfilled, &c. God, Elijah, God the Lord. If the That is not to be taken in the sense application of the word Emmanuel, of cause, or intention, but of the God with us, to Jesus Christ, proves event. The birth of Jesus did not that he is God, as some hold, it take place in order that the words might be argued just as strongly of Isaiah might be verified, but so that the application, for instance, of that they were verified. The thing the word Elijah, which means God was done for its own sake, not for the Lord, to John the Baptist, provthe sake of fulfilling Isaiah's words, ed him to be God likewise. Matt. though, as it was, it did fulfil them. xi. 14. — God is with us in nature, Again, we have an instance here reason, conscience, and the multiof what is called Accommodation. tude of his blessings and mercies. The words of Isaiah did not relate He was with the Jews especially to the birth of Christ, but to some- in Moses and the Prophets. But thing which happened in the reign he is eminently with the whole of Xhaz. The prediction had long world in Jesus Christ, reconciling it before been fulfilled. But Matthew to himself; for he gave him his quotes it in the way of an illustra- spirit without measure. John iii. tion, as if he had said, “ the ancient 34. He sent him as the brightest saying was made good, or verified ; manifestation of his glory, as the the passage in Isaiah well describes true image and likeness of himself these events." Is. vii. 14.

for men to look upon and copy. 23. This and the preceding verse Loving Christ, the Image, we shall are parenthetical. They are the love God, the Original. comment which Matthew makes 24. Joseph is not disobedient unupon the angel's message. - Behold to the heavenly vision. His con

she had brought forth her first-born son ; and he called his name Jesus.

CHAPTER II.

The Visit of the Wise Men and the Flight into Egypt. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the duct shows that he was not only a of Simeon and Anna, took place just man towards others, but also before the coming of the wise men. submissive to the will of God.

- Bethlehem of Judea. So called 25. Her first-born son. Accord- to distinguish it from another town ing to the Jewish custom and law, of the same name in Galilee. Beththe first-born son was entitled to lehem signifies house of bread, referpeculiar privileges. Whether Ma- ring perhaps to the fertility of the ry had other children afterwards is country. It was also called Ephrata. unknown, and unimportant. Be- It was a small village six miles in a tween the birth and the naming and southerly direction from Jerusalem, circumcision of the child, Luke re- lying in the midst of fertile hills cords some interesting particulars. and vales, and commanding a disChap. ii. 8-20. 6. The wisdom of tant view of the Dead Sea and the God ordained, that he, who was to valley leading to it; so that any be the great Exemplar of human phenomenon over the place, as the duty and of human destination, brilliant spectacle witnessed by the should be brought into the world shepherds, Luke ii. 9, would be and pass through it, in the lowest seen far beyond the Dead Sea in and most trying circumstances, the east country. This village was erecting thereby an everlasting the birthplace and home of David, monument to this great and impor- in earlier times, and from it he went tant truth : that neither riches, high forth to the army of Saul, and his station, or worldly honor are any royal destiny. The place is now proof of the merit of their posses- inhabited by Christians and Masors, or any mark of the divine fa- hometans, and contains about two

hundred houses. The localities of CHAPTER II.

the sacred history are pointed out 1. For events not mentioned by to travellers with great exactness. Matthew, occurring between the A monastery stands over the place end of the last chapter and the of Jesus' birth. Still little reliance beginning of this, see Luke i. 8 can be placed on some of these tra38. — Now when, gc. i. e. about ditions. - In the days. In the time the time Jesus was born. It is or reign, a Hebraism. — Herod the supposed that Jesus was born from king. This was Herod, miscalled four to six years before the com- the Great. The Romans were the

According to the Jewish virtual lords of the country, and he law, an interval of forty days must held the royal office under their auelapse before the mother could en- thority. Wise men. Sages, Mater the temple and make the appro- gi, or Magians. Their name is of priate offerings. Levit. xii. 2 - 4. Persian origin. They were found Probably the presentation of Jesus throughout the east, but especially in the temple, and the benedictions in Persia, and comprehended priests,

vor."

mon era.

mans

2 east to Jerusalem, saying : Where is he that is born King of

the Jews ? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come philosophers, and men of letters. sephus, their historian, says that the They were much devoted to medi- principal cause which stimulated cine, astrology, and religion, and them to make war against the Rowere highly esteemed by kings as " was an ambiguous oracle, counsellors in civil and military af- found also in our sacred writings, fairs, as they professed to predict that about this time some one from future events. Their doctrines were Judea should obtain the empire of ascribed to Abraham as their au- the world.” Suetonius, a Roman thor, or reformer; and afterwards historian, writing about the same becoming corrupted, were purified by period, mentions “ that there had Zoroaster, who is said to have been been for a long time all over the a descendant of the prophet Daniel. east a notion firmly believed, that it They are asserted to have worship- was in the books of the fates, that ped God in spirit, without the use some one from Judea was destined, of images. As they were imbued about that time, to obtain the emwith many Jewish notions, it was pire of the world.” Tacitus, anothnot unnatural that they should have er Roman author, of great credit participated to some extent in the and veracity, speaking of the JewJewish expectation of a Messiah. ish calamities when their city was Indeed Bishop Pearce believes them destroyed by Titus, says

" that the to have been Jews, residing in the mass of the people entertained a colleges of the Magi. Rabmag, strong persuasion that it was menJer. xxxix. 3, 13, means the chief tioned in the ancient writings of of the wise men. Daniel referred the priests, that at that very time to them v. 11, and at one time pre- the east should prevail, and some sided over them. - From the east. one from Judea obtain the empire This is a general name of Arabia, of the world.” Other writers might Media, Persia, and Chaldea. It be cited to the same effect. His cannot now be determined from star. It was believed by the anwhich country these visitors came, cients that new stars appeared bebut their gifts were famous pro- fore great events, and at the birth ductions of Arabia, though that or death of illustrious men, and had country lies rather south than east some mysterious connexion with of Judea. To Jerusalem. They their lives. Pliny says, that a new naturally resort to the capital to see star or comet was seen on the accesthe supposed new-born king of the sion of Augustus to the Roman nation.

empire, which he called his natal 2. King of the Jews. As the re star. As the wise men were skilled gal office was the highest in human in astrology, they readily detected estimation, Jesus is often spoken of uncommon appearances in the heavas a king, and his religion as a Whether the star or meteor kingdom. A general expectation they saw had any connexion with was abroad throughout the whole the bright light which accompanied eastern world, that some extraordi- the descent of the Angels to the nary personage would appear at shepherds, mentioned by Luke, ii. this period. Mankind anxiously 9, is not stated. Probably the star awaited his coining. The Jews, re was a brilliant meteor, supernaturallying on their prophecies, thirsted ly conducting them to the object of to behold their great Restorer. Jo- their search.

says

ens.

6 No man,

to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, 3 he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him ; and when he 4 had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. Bishop Hall, “ is so qualified to see in sanguine expectation of the comthe star of Christ as a diligent pro- ing of their Messiah. If a legitificient in philosophy.” In the mate heir to the throne was now east. While they were in the east born, he feared the kingdom would country, they saw the star in the be taken out of his hands, for he west, and accordingly directed their was a foreigner and a usurper. steps thither. Po worship him. All Jerusalem with him i. e. The Not in the sense of religious hom- city generally was agitated. The age, but simply of obeisance or friends and adherents of Herod high respect. Marks of great rev would participate in his fear and erence were shown to kings, espe- suspicion ; while his enemies might cially in the east. Prostration of justly apprehend, what afterwards the body upon the ground before took place, ver. 16, that the tyrant sovereigns, and the giving of the would find on this occasion a premost costly presents, were common text, however groundless, for some signs of homage. The wise men, unheard-of atrocity. Or they might regarding the young child as a can- rejoice at the prospect of his downdidate for the Jewish throne, and fall, and exult in the hope of the heir to some remarkable destiny, speedy coming of the Messiah. followed the usual custom. The 4. We may infer the extent of word worship was formerly appli- his consternation from the active ed to the respect paid to man, as steps he took to calm it. — Chief well as the homage given to God, priests and scribes of the people. see 1 Chron. xxix. 20.

Probably a circumlocution for the 3. It does not appear that-Herod Sanhedrim, or Jewish Senate, conhad as yet seen the wise men. By sisting of seventy persons. Its common report he heard of their members were chiefly priests and coming and object. Afterwards, Levites, including the high-priest, ver. 7, he sent to have an interview the ex-high-priests, and the chiefs with them. He was troubled. Was of the twenty-four classes, into agitated. His fear was natural. which David had divided the saHe had laid the foundation of his cerdotal order. 1 Chron. xxiii. 6. throne in blood and crime, and Its jurisdiction was both civil and killed several of his own family. ecclesiastical. The scribes, elseHis outraged conscience made him · where called lawyers and doctors uneasy, jealous, and fearful. Wick- of the law, were men of learning, edness converts men into cowards, versed in the laws of Moses, and " but the righteous are bold as a the commentaries upon them. They lion.” Though far advanced in kept the public records and regisyears, his insatiate ambition also ters, drew up law documents for led him to be anxious about the the people, transcribed the sacred continuance of the government in books, and acted as religious teachhis hands, and those of his succes crs and interpreters. --- He demandsor; for the Pharisees, according to ed, fc. As they understood the Josephus, had predicted the over sacred books and made it their busithrow of Herod's reign, probably ness to expound them, he naturally

5 And they said unto him : In Bethlehem of Judea ; for thus it 6 is written by the prophet : “And 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 7 Israel.” Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise

men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared, 8 and 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. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed. And, lo, the

star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came 10 and stood over where the young child was. When they saw 11 the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy ; and when

they were come into the house, they saw the young child with

Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him ; and referred to them for information re 7. Privily called. Jealousy loves specting the birthplace of the Mes- to move in the dark. — Inquired dilsiah. Where. This was the im- igently. Or, procured from them portant point with Herod. He exact information.

He probably wished to know the exact place, wished to ascertain the precise age that he might find the child and of the child. put it to death. Observe, too, that 8. Worship him also. Also should the question indicates how strong be placed before may come, thus, the expectation of the coming of “ that I also may come,” &c. He the Messiah was ; though the hy- veiled his purpose under the mask pocritical king thought to falsify the of hypocrisy. His conduct on this sure word of prophecy, and, fighting occasion was in accordance with his against God, to destroy the infant whole character, as drawn by JoseJesus. Christ. Rather the Christ, phus and other ancient writers. or the Messiah.

9. Which they saw in the east. A 5. It was a current opinion, origi- different arrangement would be betnated by the prophecies, that the ter; " which they, in the east, Messiah would be born at Bethle- saw." It was the custom of the hem. John vii. 42. The prophet. old painters to represent Christ with Micah v. 2. The language is not luminous rays encircling his head ; verbatim, but the essential ideas are derived perhaps from the circumconveyed. The Evangelist might stance of the star, standing over the have quoted from memory.

place where the young child was, 6. Matthew only states that the or the glory which surrounded him passage was adduced by the priests at the Baptism, or on the Mount of and scribes as a proof that the Mes- Transfiguration. siah would be born at Bethlehem.. 10. Their joy at finding their obRule. The original is, feed and ject indicates the value they attached tend as a shepherd. Kings were an

to it. ciently called the shepherds of their 11. Fell down and worshipped. people.

Prostrated themselves and did obei

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