Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth…
Glance at the history. Herod's the most striking instance of open opposition to God. He knew the prophecies, yet fought against their fulfilment. Some surprise that God permitted this slaughter.
I. It is not necessary to the vindication of God's dealings that we should always be able to give reasons for their every part. There are reasons which will tend to remove surprise that Herod was not restrained from murder.
1. This murder would fix Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Christ. Prophecy had announced this. Herod's sword corroborated this.
2. This murder would enable Jesus to live in obscurity until thirty years of age. Brought up at Nazareth, He was regarded as a Nazarite. The slaughter of the innocents would prove His birth at Bethlehem. Herod supposed his object gained, so the infant Christ was allowed to rest in obscurity.
3. God was leaving Herod to fill up the measure of his sin.
4. God was unquestionably disciplining the parents by the slaughter of their children.
II. The consequences of the slaughter as far as the innocents themselves were concerned. Dying before they knew evil from good, they were saved by the virtue of Christ's propitiation. Not best to die in infancy; better to win the victory than be spared the fight. They are reckoned amongst the martyrs of the church. Teaching for those who bury their children.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: 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.