Matthew 2:6
And you Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, are not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of you shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) And thou Bethlehem. . . .—The Evangelist is not quoting the prophecy of Micah himself, but recording it as it was quoted by the scribes. This in part explains the fact that he does not give either the version of the LXX., or a more accurate rendering of the Hebrew, but a free paraphrase. As the Targum, just referred to, belongs to this period, it is perfectly possible that the writer of it may have been one of the Council. At any rate, his Messianic reference of the passage was likely to be dominant. The chief difference for the English reader to note is, that the Hebrew gives “thou art little among the thousands (i.e., as in Judges 6:15, the families or clans) of Judah;” the version given by St. Matthew, “thou art not the least among the princes.” The prophet contrasts the outward insignificance with the spiritual greatness. The paraphrast sees the outward transfigured by the glory of the spiritual. So again the simpler “out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel” is paraphrased into “out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule (e.g., feed, as a shepherd) my people Israel.” The fact that the scribes stopped, and did not go on to the words that told of the Ruler as one “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” may have arisen either from an unwillingness to bring that aspect of the expected Christ before the mind of Herod, or, possibly, from an equal unwillingness to face it themselves.

Matthew 2:6. Thou Bethlehem, &c., art not the least among the princes of Juda — It is justly observed by Dr. Doddridge, after Erasmus, here, that “when this and several other quotations from the Old Testament, which we find in the New, come to be compared with the original, and even with the Septuagint, it plainly appears that the apostles did not always think it necessary to transcribe the passages they cited, but sometimes contented themselves with giving the general sense in some little diversity of language.” The words of Micah, which we render, Though thou be little, may be rendered, Art thou little? And his expression, thousands of Judah; and that of the evangelist here, princes, or governors of Judah, are in sense the same, the word thousands being used by the prophet, in allusion to the first division of the tribes of Israel into thousands, hundreds, and other subordinate divisions, over every one of which thousands was a prince or chief. But for a full explanation of both passages the reader is referred to the note on Micah 5:2.2:1-8 Those who live at the greatest distance from the means of grace often use most diligence, and learn to know the most of Christ and his salvation. But no curious arts, or mere human learning, can direct men unto him. We must learn of Christ by attending to the word of God, as a light that shineth in a dark place, and by seeking the teaching of the Holy Spirit. And those in whose hearts the day-star is risen, to give them any thing of the knowledge of Christ, make it their business to worship him. Though Herod was very old, and never had shown affection for his family, and was not himself likely to live till a new-born infant had grown up to manhood, he began to be troubled with the dread of a rival. He understood not the spiritual nature of the Messiah's kingdom. Let us beware of a dead faith. A man may be persuaded of many truths, and yet may hate them, because they interfere with his ambition, or sinful indulgences. Such a belief will make him uneasy, and the more resolved to oppose the truth and the cause of God; and he may be foolish enough to hope for success therein.By the prophet - The Sanhedrin answered without hesitation. The question where he would be born had been settled by prophecy. This prophecy is found in Micah 5:2. In that prophecy both the place of his birth and the character of the Messiah are so clearly set forth that there was no room to doubt. It will be observed that there is a considerable difference between the passage as quoted by the Sanhedrin and as it stands in Micah. The main point, however, is retained - the place of his birth. We are not concerned, therefore, in showing how these passages can be reconciled. Matthew, moreover, is not responsible for the correctness of the quotation. He affirms only that the chief priests and scribes gave this answer to Herod, and that Herod was satisfied. Admitting that they did not quote the passage correctly, it does not prove that Matthew has not reported their answer as they gave it, and this is all that he pretends to give.

Art not the least - In Micah, "though thou be little." Though a small place so far as population is concerned, yet it shall not be small, or be the least in honor; for the Messiah shall be born there. His birth gave the place an honor which could not be conferred on the larger cities by all their numbers, their splendor, and their wealth. The birth of a distinguished personage was always supposed to give honor and importance to a city or country. Thus, seven cities contended for the honor of giving birth to Homer; Stratford-upon-Avon is distinguished as the birthplace of Shakespeare; and Corsica as the birthplace of Napoleon.

A Governor - A ruler. This is one of the characters of the Messiah, who is the king of his people, John 18:37. The word "rule" here means to rule as a shepherd does his flock, in faithfulness and tenderness. Compare John 10:11; Isaiah 40:10-11; Isaiah 9:7.

6. And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda—the "in" being familiarly left out, as we say, "London, Middlesex."

art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, &c.—This quotation, though differing verbally, agrees substantially with the Hebrew and the Septuagint. For says the prophet, "Though thou be little, yet out of thee shall come the Ruler"—this honor more than compensating for its natural insignificance; while our Evangelist, by a lively turn, makes him say, "Thou art not the least: for out of thee shall come a Governor"—this distinction lifting it from the lowest to the highest rank. The "thousands of Juda," in the prophet, mean the subordinate divisions of the tribe: our Evangelist, instead of these, merely names the "princes" or heads of these families, including the districts which they occupied.

that shall rule—or "feed," as in the Margin.

my people Israel—In the Old Testament, kings are, by a beautiful figure, styled "shepherds" (Eze 34:1-10, &c.). The classical writers use the same figure. The pastoral rule of Jehovah and Messiah over His people is a representation pervading all Scripture, and rich in import. (See Ps 23:1-6; Isa 40:11; Eze 37:24; Joh 10:11; Re 7:17). That this prophecy of Micah referred to the Messiah, was admitted by the ancient Rabbins.

The Wise Men Despatched to Bethlehem by Herod to See the Babe, and Bring Him Word, Make a Religious Offering to the Infant King, but Divinely Warned, Return Home by Another Way (Mt 2:7-12).

Ver. 5,6. It was (as it seems) so received a tradition, and interpretation of Micah 5:2, that they gave him an answer without any hesitation, telling him he was to be born

in Bethlehem of Judea; this they confirm by the prophecy of the prophet Micah, Micah 5:2; so confirming the Son of the virgin Mary (at unawares) to be the Messiah from the testimony of the prophet Micah. The words in Micah something vary from those here mentioned; they are thus: But thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. We must know,

1. That the writers of the New Testament, in their quotations out of the Old Testament, ordinarily quote only so much of them as makes to their purpose, and not always in the very terms in which they are found in the Old Testament: but keeping to the sense.

2. That it is more than probable that the evangelist keeps to the words in which the priests and scribes delivered in their answer to the king, for in this relation he is but reciting their answer.

The sole question propounded to them was: What the place was, where the Messiah, according to their records, was to be born? They answer: In Bethlehem Judah: they prove their answer from the testimony of the prophet. If any object that the prophet calls it Bethlehem Ephratah, not Bethlehem Judah, the answer is, that it is in sense the same, for Bethlehem Ephratah was within the tribe of Judah. It should seem by Genesis 35:19 48:7 that it was formerly in Jacob’s time called Ephrath. Some think that it was a town within Caleb’s portion, and called Ephratah from his second wife, whose name was Ephrath, or Ephratah, 1 Chronicles 2:19,50, if it were not the same place, only fortified anew. We read of another Bethlehem in Judah builded by Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:6; whether it had this addition from its old name in Jacob’s time, or from Caleb’s wife, or to distinguish it from Bethlehem belonging to the tribe of Zebulun, is hard to say: it is plain that that Bethlehem is meant, both by Micah and Matthew, which was in Judah; possibly in tract of time the addition Ephratah was lost.

But, say some, there is a contradiction between Micah and Matthew; Micah saith it was the least, Matthew saith it was not the least.

Answer: Here is no contradiction; consider Bethlehem itself, it was but a small city, (if it were in Caleb’s lot it is not named), but in other respects it was not the least. It was of old famous for Ibzan, one of the judges, for Elimelech, Boaz, Jesse, David; and now last of all for the birth of Christ, where respect to which the evangelist calls it not the least; or if he reciteth the scribes’ and priests’ words, they might call it not the least upon the account of Boaz, Jesse, and David, all which were born or dwelt there; and particularly with respect to Christ, who was born there. The prophet calls it the least with respect to its state in his time, the evangelist not the least with respect to its state then, its state being magnified by the birth of Christ. Micah saith among the thousands. Matthew,

among the princes. It is the same thing, for, Numbers 1:16, their princes were heads of thousands in Israel. The Jews would by no means have this text interpreted of Christ, but either of Zerubbabel or David: but as to Zerubbabel, he was born in Babylon, not in Bethlehem, and David was dead long before this prophecy; neither could the following words, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, agree to Zerubbabel or David: Zerubbabel’s name tells us where he was born, and we never read that Bethlehem was thus celebrated with reference to David, though he was born there, 1 Samuel 16:1 17:58, upon which account it is called the city of David, Luke 2:4. The prophecy certainly related to Christ, and him only, and so is interpreted by the Chaldee paraphrast, who some think was one of this council called by Herod in this cause. And thou Bethlehem in the land of Juda,.... This prophecy, which the chief priests and scribes produced, as pointing at the place of Christ's birth, is owned by both ancient and later Jews (y) to be a prophecy of the Messiah. The difference between Micah and Matthew is easily reconciled. Bethlehem is called by Micah, Bethlehem Ephratah, and by Matthew, Bethlehem in the land of Judah, and both were one and the same place. Bethlehem Ephratah was in the land of Juda, as appears from the prophecy of Micah itself, from Ruth 1:2 and the Septuagint version of Joshua 15:60 and is described in this manner by Matthew, partly to distinguish it from another Bethlehem in the land of Zebulun, Joshua 19:15 and partly because its other name Ephratah was now disused, and so unknown to Herod, who was unacquainted with the books and prophecies of the Old Testament. Micah says this place was

little among the thousands of Judah. Matthew says, "not the least". But in this is no apparent contradiction, it might be "little" and yet "not the least"; besides, it might be "little" and "not little", or "not the least" in different respects, and at different times; it might be little, mean, and contemptible as to worldly splendour, riches, number of inhabitants, pompous buildings, &c. and yet not be little or mean, when considered as the place of the birth of many great persons, such as Booz, Jesse, David, &c. and especially Christ. It might be little in Micah's time, and yet not in Matthew's; especially since it had received a considerable additional honour by Christ's being born there. Moreover, the words in Micah may be rendered, by way of interrogation, "art thou little, or the least?" To which the answer in Matthew is, "no, thou art not the least", &c. or else the word may be understood, and the text be translated thus; "it is a small thing that thou art among the thousands of Judah, for out of thee", &c. a great honour shall be conferred on thee, the Messiah shall spring from thee. Again, what Micah calls "thousands", are in Matthew called "princes"; the reason of this is, because the tribes of Israel were divided into thousands, and every thousand had its prince; so that though here is a difference in words, yet none in sense. What Micah styles "a ruler in Israel", Matthew expresses by "a governor that shall rule or feed my people Israel"; but in this there is no contradiction. Add to all this, that it should be observed, that the Evangelist is not giving a version of his own, but of the chief priests and scribes; and therefore was it ever so faulty, they, and not he, must be chargeable with it; for he has acted the part of a faithful historian in giving it in the words in which they cited it (z).

(y) Targum Jon. Jarchi, Aben Ezra, Kimchi & Abendana in loc. Abarbinel Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 62. 2. R. Isaac Chizuk Emuna, p. 279. (z) See my book of the "Prophecies of the Messiah", &c. ch. 6. p. 104-116.

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the {f} least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that {g} shall rule my people Israel.

(f) Though you are a small town, yet you will be very famous and notable through the birth of the Messiah, who will be born in you.

(g) That will rule and govern: for kings are rightly called leaders and shepherds of the people.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 2:6. In Micah 5:1 the sense is: Although Bethlehem is too unimportant to be reckoned among the cities of the district, yet a ruler in Israel will come forth from it. In Matthew this thought is, with a slight deviation, changed into: Bethlehem is undoubtedly an important place, because, etc. It is therefore unnecessary, with Grotius, to take the passage in Micah as interrogative: “Art thou, then, Bethlehem, too small,” etc., and to derive the turn of the thought with οὐδαμῶς from this interrogative interpretation (Hilgenfeld). But the Ruler to whom Micah alludes is none other than the Messianic King of David’s race (see Ewald, Proph.), so that in the birth of Jesus this prophecy receives its complete historical fulfilment. Comp. John 7:42.

ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν] בְּאַלְפֵי, LXX. ἐν χιλιάσιν. The Hebrew אֶלֶף denotes the subdivision of the tribes (the thousands, see Ewald, Alterth. p. 323 f.; Keil, Arch. II. p. 223), which had their principal places and their heads (אַלּוּף). See Gesenius, Thes. I. p. 106. The translation by ἡγεμόσιν (Chrysostom: φυλάρχοις) clearly shows that either the evangelist himself had read the word in question not בְּאַלְפֵי, but בְּאַלֻפֵי, or that his translator had committed this mistake. In the Septuagint also אַלּוּף is rendered by ἡγεμών, Genesis 36:15 f.; Exodus 15:15; 1 Chronicles 1:51 f.; Psalm 55:14. According to the words as they stand in Matthew, Bethlehem, the town, appears personified in the midst of the heads of families (Ewald, “amongst the princes of Judah”), amongst whom it had by no means the lowest position. Fritzsche conjectures ταῖς ἡγεμόσιν, in primariis familiarum in Judaea sedibus. But even thus the sense of אֶלֶף is not yet obtained. How easily, on the contrary, might the evangelist or his translator derive אלפי from אלוף, as the ἡγούμενος which follows must have been before him!

γῆ] not city, but strip of land, province, which includes the same, 1Ma 5:68. Often likewise in the tragic writers. See Fritzsche in loc. Comp. Seidler, ad Eurip. Troad. iv.; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 361.

ἐξελεύσεται] will come forth, namely, by birth. Thus יָצָא, Genesis 17:6. Comp. Hebrews 7:5; 1Ma 1:10.

ποιμανεῖ] Comp. the Homeric ποιμένες λαῶν. In like manner רָעָה is used of rulers, 2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Samuel 7:7; Jeremiah 23:2 ff.; Micah 5:3.6. And thou Bethlehem, &c.] Micah 5:2. The quotation nearly corresponds with the Hebrew text, the literal translation of which is: But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little to be among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto me he that is to be ruler in Israel.

The LXX. is singularly different both in words and construction—a proof of the Hebrew original of this gospel; for the Greek translation of the prophecy is evidently independent of the LXX.

A reflection of this prophecy became prevalent in the East. Accordingly the Roman historians designate the Emperor Vespasian as the Eastern Prince who was destined to rule the world: “Percrebuerat Oriente toto vetus et constans opinio esse in fatis ut eo tempore Judæa profecti rerum potirentur. Id de Imperatore Romano quantum postea eventu paruit prædictum Judæi ad se trahentes rebellarunt.” Suet. Vesp. iv. Similarly Tac. Hist. Matthew 2:13. Comp. Joseph. B. J. vi. 5. 4. See above, Matthew 2:2.Matthew 2:6. Καὶ σὺ Βηθλεὲμ κ.τ.λ., and thou Bethlehem, etc.) The passage referred to is in Micah 5:2, thus rendered by the LXX., καὶ σὺ Βηθλεὲμ ὁ οἶκος Εὐφραθᾶ, ὀλιγιστὸς εἶ τοῦ εἶναι ἐν χιλιάσιν Ἰούδα· ἐκ σοῦ μοι ἐξελεύσεται, τοῦ εἶναι εἰς ἄρχοντα τοῦ Ἰσραήλ. On which passage see Hallet’s Notes.[82] Let the following be accepted as a paraphrase of both the Prophet and the Evangelist. And thou Bethlehem Ephrata, or district in the tribe of Judah, art small, להיות, to be, in other words, inasmuch as thou art (quæ sis) (consult on ל Noldii[83] Concordantiæ Particularum, p. 458), among the thousands of Judah, if this dignity which is not otherwise to be despised, and which far exceeds thy proportion and measure, be compared with that dignity exclusively thine own, by virtue of which thou art by no means the least, but altogether the greatest among the princes and thousands of Judah, sc., that from thee shall go forth for Me, להיות, one who is to be (qui sit) the Ruler in Israel. A similar mode of expression occurs in 2 Samuel 7:19; Isaiah 49:6. The greater honour obscures and absorbs the less.—γῆ Ἰούδα, a land of Judah. The land or district is put by Synechdoche,[84] for the township, as in Luke 9:12, fields for cantons: Judah was the tribe of the Messiah. Both words supply the place of Ephrata in the Hebrew. The LXX. have in Joshua 15, either between Joshua 15:58 and Joshua 15:59, or between Joshua 15:59 and Joshua 15:60, the following passage: Θεκὼ καὶ Ἐφραθά· αὕτη ἐστὶ Βηθλεὲμ κ.τ.λ.—Theko and Ephrata, which is Bethlehem, etc. If this passage (instead of having fallen out of the Hebrew text from coming between two which have the same ending), be redundant in the Septuagint, it affords a proof, that, at the time when the land of Canaan was divided amongst the tribes of Israel, Bethlehem was not even reckoned among the cities; Cf. John 7:42. It must, however, have been so reckoned as early at any rate as the reign of Rehoboam, as we learn from 2 Chronicles 11:6. Micah addresses it in the masculine gender, with an implied reference to אלפים, thousands, families, Cf. אַלְפִי, ἡ κιλιάς μου, my thousand, i.e., my family, in Jdg 6:15. Wherefore St Matthew, after putting ἘΛΑΧΊΣΤΗ, least, in the feminine gender (to agree with γῆ, land, understood), mentions, instead of the thousands themselves, the princes of thousands (for אלף a thousand, family, etc., and אלוף, a chief, leader, etc., are cognate words) over whom he places one prince (ἩΓΟΥΜΈΝΟΝ), even Christ: nor does he so much give the preference to this city or thousand over the other cities or thousands of Judah, as to the Prince who came forth thence, over the other Princes of Thousands.—ἘΚ ΣΟῦ ΓᾺΡ ἘΞΕΛΕΎΣΕΤΑΙ, FOR from thee shall go forth) The LXX., as we have seen, have, from the Hebrew ἐκ σοῦ ΜΟΙ ἐξελεύσεται, from thee shall go forth FOR ME, a reading which is followed by the Codex Basiliensis Β,[85] and the Aldine reprint of Erasmus’ first edition.[86] Others combine both readings thus, ἐκ σοῦ ΓΑΡ ΜΟΙ ἐξελεύσεται—FOR from thee shall go forth FOR ME.[87] The pronoun MOI (to, or for, ME) evidently represents God the Father, speaking of Christ as His Son.—See Luke 1:32, and Cf., Matthew 2:13. But the conjunction γαρ (for or because) points out the birthplace of Christ more significantly. The word γεννᾶται, shall be born (nascetur), which occurs in Matthew 2:4, is synonymous with the ἐξελεύσεται, shall go forth, of the present passage. The יצא of the Hebrew; the derivative of which מוצאת (rendered by the LXX., ἔξοδοι, goings forth) ought also to be understood of birth or generation, and that from everlasting: Cf. מוצא in Job 38:27, and Numbers 30:13. The LXX. render צאצאים more than once by ΤΈΚΝΑ, children.—ἡγούμενος ὅστις ποιμανεῖ, a prince who shall shepherd) In 1 Chronicles 11:2, concerning David, the LXX. have ΣῪ ΠΟΙΜΑΝΕῖς ΤῸΝ ΛΑΌΝ ΜΟΥ, ΤῸΝ ἸΣΡΑΉΛ· ΚΑῚ ΣῪ ἜΣῌ ἘΙς ἩΓΟῪΜΕΝΟΝ ἘΠῚ ΤῸΝ ΛΑΌΝ ΜΟΥ ΤῸΝ ἸΣΡΑΉΛΝ, thou shalt shepherd My people Israel, and thou shalt be for a prince over My people Israel. Concerning the expression to shepherd, see Psalm 78:71-72. It is indeed a word worthy the kingly office, and at the same time according with the pastoral youth of David at Bethlehem. By the word ΠΟΙΜΑΝΕῖ (He shall shepherd) the evangelist includes also and condenses the third [fourth] verse of the chapter of Micah already cited, where the LXX. have the same expression.—τὸν λαόν Μου, MY people) which corresponds with the expression in Micah, ΜΟῚ ἘΞΕΛΈΥΣΕΤΑΙ, shall go forth for ME, i.e., GOD.—ΤῸΝ ἸΣΡΑῊΛ, Israel) The article is added to the name of a man, when put for that of a people. Israel, i.e., all the tribes of Israel. In the subsequent narrative no further mention occurs of Bethlehem, so that it may be doubted whether our Lord ever returned thither.

[82] JOSEPH HALLET, a dissenting minister, born at Exeter, 1692; died 1744.—(I. B.)

[83] CHRISTIAN NOLDIUS, author of “Concordantiæ Particularum Hebræo-Chaldæorum,” was an eminent Dutch divine, born 1626, died 1683.—(I. B.)

[84] See Explanation of Technical Terms in Appendix.—(I. B.)

[85] A MS. in the Basle Library, entitled there B. vi. 25; but designated as β by Bengel, for the sake of convenience.—See App. Crit., p. 90.—(I. B.)

[86] See Tregelles on the printed text of the Greek New Testament, pp. 19–26.—(I. B.)

[87] The only very ancient authority for γὰρ μοι ἐξελ is C. Theodoret and the Armen. Vers. follow it; but Z (and probably B) and D, and Vulg. omit μοι.—ED.Verse 6. - And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Jude, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel; and thou Bethlehem, land of Judah, art in no wise least among the princes of Judah: For out of thee shall come forth a governor, which shall be shepherd of my people Israel (Revised Version). In this quotation from Micah 5:2 notice the following Variations from the Hebrew, and practically from the LXX.:

(1) "Land of Judah" for "Ephratah"; an unimportant change in the terms of definition.

(2) "Art in no wise least" for "which art little to be "; a verbal contradiction probably, but also unimportant, as the thought of the context in Micah is of Bethlehem's greatness.

(3) "Princes" for "thousands." This may be due

(a) to a different pointing of the Hebrew, בְּאַלֻפֵי for בְּאַלְפֵי (cf. the rabbinic commentary, 'Metzud. Zion.'), or

(b) to understanding בְּאַלְפֵי as "families" (Judges 6:15; cf. Revised 'Version margin), and then concentrating the family in its head.

(4) "For out of thee shall come forth a governor, which shall be shepherd of my people Israel" for "out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel." This is a paraphrase, with a paraphrastic addition from 2 Samuel 5:2 (7:7), in order to distinctly identify the ruler with Messiah. Nothing is commoner in Jewish authors than the silent conjunction of quotations from separate contexts. In this case the thought of the shepherd in Micah 5:4 made the addition from Samuel the more easy. It must also be noticed that the reference of the passage in Micah to Christ is fully borne out by Jewish writers. Though they generally explain the rest of the verse as referring to the long lapse of time from David himself, they understand the ruler to be Messiah. But it is not usual with Jewish interpreters to understand the reference to Bethlehem as implying the place of Messiah's own birth. They generally take it as referring to the home of David, Messiah's ancestor. And this is the more natural meaning of the prophecy. The quotation, however, from the Jerusalem Talmud already given on ver. 1, and the Targum of Jonathan on Genesis 35:21 ("the tower of Edar - the place whence King Messiah is about to be revealed in the end of the days"), endorse the thoroughly Jewish character of the reply given to Herod (cf. also John 7:42). If it be asked why St. Matthew does not give an exact and verbal rendering of the Hebrew, the answer may be made that he probably gives the current form of its exposition. The high priests and scribes would have doubtless quoted it accurately in the process of weighing Micah's statement, but when, as here, they were only reproducing the result that they had arrived at, they would care for only the substance of the prophet's teaching (cf. the paraphrastic rendering of the Targum). In the land of Judah; Revised Version omits in ( Βηθλεὲμ γῆ Ἰούδα). "Bethlehem-Judah" would have presented no difficulty, for a town was often distinguished by the apposition of the name of the district in which it was situated; e.g. Ramoth-Gilead, Kedesh-Naphtali. It seems best to explain the γῆ as a mere expansion of "Judah" (cf. 1 Macc. 5:68, ἄζωτον γῆν ἀλλοφυλῶν, where probably the thought was Ashdod-Philistia). It is, however, possible that γῆ is here used in the sense of "the town and its surrounding district, over which district, it is to be observed, Herod extended his massacre (verse 16)" (Humphrey, in loc.). Land of Judah

To distinguish it from Bethlehem in the territory of Zebulon.

Shall be shepherd of (ποιμανεῖ), from ποιμήν, a shepherd

So Rev., rightly, instead of shall rule. The word involves the whole office of the shepherd - guiding, guarding, folding, as well as feeding. Hence appropriate and often applied to the guides and guardians of others. Homer calls kings "the shepherds of the people." To David the people said, "The Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed (as a shepherd) my people Israel" (2 Samuel 5:2; compare Psalm 78:70-72). God is often called a shepherd (Genesis 48:15; Psalm 23:1; Psalm 77:20; Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:11-31). Jesus calls himself the good shepherd (John 10:11). Peter, who is bidden by Jesus to shepherd his sheep (John 21:16, ποίμαινε, Rev., tend), calls him the Shepherd of Souls (1 Peter 2:25), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4); and in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 13:20), he is styled the great Shepherd of the sheep. In Revelation 2:27, rule is literally to shepherd (compare Revelation 19:15); but Christ will shepherd his enemies, not with the pastoral crook, but with a sceptre of iron. Finally, Jesus will perpetuate this name and office in heaven among his redeemed ones, for "the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall be their shepherd (Revelation 7:17, Rev.). In this verse the word governor is in harmony with the idea of shepherding, since the word ἡγούμενος originally means one who goes before, or leads the way, and suggests Christ's words about the good shepherd in John 10:3, John 10:4 : "He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out....He goeth before them, and the sheep follow him."

Inquired diligently (ἠκρίβωσεν)

Better learned accurately. The verb is formed from ἄκρος, at the point or end. The idea is, therefore, he ascertained to the last point; denoting the exactness of the information rather than the diligence of the search for it. Compare Matthew 2:8, "Search out carefully" (ἀκριβῶς). So the Rev. for diligently.

What time the star appeared (τὸν χρόνον τοῦ φαινομένου ἀστέρος)

Lit., the time of the appearing star. Herod asks, "How long does the star make itself visible since its rising in the East? rather than "At what time did it appear?"

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