Matthew 2:18
"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
Vicarious SorrowR. Tuck Matthew 2:18
Childhood of JesusMarcus Dods Matthew 2:1-23
The Providence that Befriended the Earliest Life of JesusP.C. Barker Matthew 2:13, 19, 22
A Notable Instance of the Vicarious in the Human Lot and in SufferingP.C. Barker Matthew 2:16-18
Providence in EvilJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 2:16-18
The InnocentsW.F. Adeney Matthew 2:16-18

Rachel weeping for her children. It seems to be a most strange Divine permission that the innocent babes of Bethlehem should be slaughtered. One asks, but the question cannot be answered, "Why did not some miraculous hand preserve those innocents from Herod's shameless device?" We can only say that God's interventions are always held in the strictest limitations. They just effect their end, but interfere as little as possible with the ordinary course of human affairs, with the consequences of the passions and the sins of men. God's working is as a thread running through all the piece of human life, but it does not interfere with the making of the piece. But this hardly meets the difficulty we feel here. This calamity for the Bethlehem children comes out of the Divine providence that led to Jesus being born in Bethlehem; and so we feel as if a kind of responsibility rested on God for the safety of the Bethlehem children. To answer this we are thrown back upon the principle of vicariousness which runs through all life-associations. Everywhere men are bearing burdens for others, and it is only when the calamity is very terrible, or imperils life, that we feel or express any great surprise.

I. THE VICARIOUS SORROW OF THE ACTUAL MOTHERS. As the inhabitants of Bethlehem could not have been more than two thousand, there were not more than twenty babes slain; but that was sorrow in twenty homes and woe in twenty hearts. Vicarious parent-sorrow is effectively revealed in David's wail over the slain Absalom, "Would God I had died for thee!" This opens up a full consideration of the way in which mothers vicariously bear every pain, disability, or trouble of their children. And mothers are but the highest types of the relations which knit man to man all the world over, so that no one man can ever suffer, but all others within reach vicariously suffer with him. From this, rise to conceive of the vicarious sorrow of the heavenly Father.

II. THE VICARIOUS SYMPATHY OF THE RACE-MOTHER. Such Rachel is conceived to be. Poetically - but poetry is the deepest truth - Rachel is conceived as disturbed in her tomb near Bethlehem, by her sympathy with the stricken mothers and her sorrow for the slaughtered children. The race-mother is finely conceived as actually blending sympathetic tears with the bereaved mothers of Bethlehem, who are vicariously bereaved for Messiah's sake. - R.T.

Slew all the children.
The narrative presents sharp contrasts of character and history.

I. Christ the terror of the tyrant even when a helpless babe.

II. The tyrant's utmost endeavours are all in vain against the child.

III. Our richest blessings are often baptized with blood.

IV. The children of Bethlehem were unconscious martyrs for Christ.

V. The holy innocents died for Christ's sake.

(S. Mease, D. D.)

I. How strongly the scene of our Lord's nativity WAS GUARDED.

1. From the gusts of popular commotion, which were above all things to be prevented, in order that full scope might be left for the gradual development of the Redeemer's ministry with its attendant evidences, all which would have been hindered and disturbed by any sudden tumult excited in the body of the Jewish people.

2. It was guarded also by securing to it such decisive and indubitable marks of the certainty of that which was transacted, as never could be brought in question, or disputed. These points discover to us in the plainest character the wisdom and control of Providence in all the work which was effected. The first stone laid was thus deeply placed and immovably fixed where it stands to this day.

II. THREE SORTS OF HANDS WERE EMPLOYED ON EARTH TO SET THEIR SEAL to that witness which was borne from heaven, and to commend it to perpetual regard.

1. Friends. The shepherds of Judaea were of all persons the fittest from their solitary and sequestered lives to bear that part which belongs to friends, and to become the first-called witnesses of the truth of those events which took place at our Lord's nativity. They raised no clamour. They possessed no influence. And yet a simple heart and unsuspected tongue form no inconsiderable properties in any witness whose word is to be taken for the truth and reality of what is seen and done.

2. Strangers. Men clear of just suspicion. They came from afar and took their first measures in concert, not with friends, but with those who were soon to fill the place of foes and to stand forth as virulent opponents.

3. Enemies. Herod. He laid traps to ensnare the strangers, causing them to depart the land by another course. The word of prophecy was exactly brought to pass by the cruel stratagem which he devised and executed. By his relentless act of mingled cowardice and cruelty he lent his own hand, polluted as it was, to the confirmation of the truth. Herod's cruelty at Bethlehem stands recorded both by friends and foes. Not only is it related in the sacred page, but it is also transmitted to us by writers of that age, whose undisputed works confirm the truth.

(Archdeacon Pott.)

1. We may notice in connection with this transaction very great opportunities, and very satisfactory information, very perversely employed.

2. What a treacherous thing is the indulgence of malignant passion and self-seeking.

3. We are reminded of the estate of Christ and of those who come within His circle, in relation to the present world. (I) Learn not to be unduly alarmed for the ark of the Lord. Jesus in His cradle is mightier than Herod. on his throne.(2) Not to be unduly grieved at our losses and sufferings for Christ's sake. The cause is safe.(3) Learn the importance of having our children in close relation to Christ.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

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.)

It has been too often the cruel policy of the despots of the East to consolidate the foundation of their thrones by the slaughter of all who had claims or power to dispute their authority (2 Kings 10:1-14). The history of Abyssinia furnishes an instance of a tyrant ordering the destruction of about 400 children. Niebuhr mentions an Arabian prince who murdered all the remotest descendants of his predecessors he heard of; and Sir Thomas Roe states, that a king of Pegu, in order to destroy a nephew of his own, whose claims interfered with his possession of the crown, and who was secreted by his partizans among a vast multitude of the children of the grandees, commanded the whole to be slaughtered, to the number of 4,000 — a massacre much more terrible than Herod's, in which it is thought that not more than fifty infants fell a prey to the tyrant's jealousy.

(Dr. Jamieson.)

Archelaus, Herod, Jeremiah, Jeremias, Jeremy, Jesus, Joseph, Mary, Rachel
Bethlehem, Egypt, Galilee, Jerusalem, Judea, Nazareth, Ramah
Bewailing, Bitter, Comforted, Consoled, Lamentation, Loss, Loud, Mourning, Rachel, Rama, Ramah, Refused, Refusing, Sorrow, Voice, Wailing, Weeping, Wouldn't
1. The wise men from the east enquire after Jesus;
3. at which Herod is alarmed.
9. They are directed by a star to Bethlehem, worship him, and offer their presents.
13. Joseph flees into Egypt with Jesus and his mother.
16. Herod slays the children;
20. himself dies.
23. Jesus is brought back again into Galilee to Nazareth.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 2:18

     5196   voice
     5419   mourning
     5805   comfort
     8341   separation
     8415   encouragement, examples

Matthew 2:1-18

     2515   Christ, birth of

Matthew 2:1-23

     5652   babies
     8131   guidance, results

Matthew 2:13-20

     8729   enemies, of Christ

Matthew 2:16-18

     5348   injustice, nature and source
     5567   suffering, emotional
     5899   lament

Matthew 2:17-18

     1429   prophecy, OT fulfilment

The First-Fruits of the Gentiles
'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, 2. Saying, 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. 3. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5. And they said
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The King in Exile
'And 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. 14. When he arose, he took the young child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt; 15. And 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
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Sermon 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

History of the Interpretation.
1. AMONG THE JEWS. This History, as to its essential features, might, a priori, be sketched with tolerable certainty. From the nature of the case, we could scarcely expect that the Jews should have adopted views altogether erroneous as to the subject of the prophecy in question; for the Messiah appears in it, not in His humiliation, but in His glory--rich in gifts and blessings, and Pelagian self-delusion will, a priori, return an affirmative answer to the question as to whether one is
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

One Argument which Has Been Much Relied Upon but not More than Its Just Weight...
One argument which has been much relied upon (but not more than its just weight deserves) is the conformity of the facts occasionally mentioned or referred to in Scripture with the state of things in those times, as represented by foreign and independent accounts; which conformity proves, that the writers of the New Testament possessed a species of local knowledge which could belong only to an inhabitant of that country and to one living in that age. This argument, if well made out by examples, is
William Paley—Evidences of Christianity

Eastern Wise-Men, or Magi, visit Jesus, the New-Born King.
(Jerusalem and Bethlehem, b.c. 4.) ^A Matt. II. 1-12. ^a 1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem [It lies five miles south by west of Jerusalem, a little to the east of the road to Hebron. It occupies part of the summit and sides of a narrow limestone ridge which shoots out eastward from the central chains of the Judæan mountains, and breaks down abruptly into deep valleys on the north, south, and east. Its old name, Ephrath, meant "the fruitful." Bethlehem means "house of bread." Its modern
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Flight into Egypt and Slaughter of the Bethlehem Children.
(Bethlehem and Road Thence to Egypt, b.c. 4.) ^A Matt. II. 13-18. ^a 13 Now when they were departed [The text favors the idea that the arrival and departure of the magi and the departure of Joseph for Egypt, all occurred in one night. If so, the people of Bethlehem knew nothing of these matters], behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise [this command calls for immediate departure] and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt [This land was ever the
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Child Jesus Brought from Egypt to Nazareth.
(Egypt and Nazareth, b.c. 4.) ^A Matt. II. 19-23; ^C Luke II. 39. ^a 19 But when Herod was dead [He died in the thirty-seventh year of his reign and the seventieth of his life. A frightful inward burning consumed him, and the stench of his sickness was such that his attendants could not stay near him. So horrible was his condition that he even endeavored to end it by suicide], behold, an angel of the Lord [word did not come by the infant Jesus; he was "made like unto his brethren" (Heb. ii. 17),
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The visit and Homage of the Magi, and the Flight into Egypt
With the Presentation of the Infant Saviour in the Temple, and His acknowledgment - not indeed by the leaders of Israel, but, characteristically, by the representatives of those earnest men and women who looked for His Advent - the Prologue, if such it may be called, to the third Gospel closes. From whatever source its information was derived - perhaps, as has been suggested, its earlier portion from the Virgin-Mother, the later from Anna; or else both alike from her, who with loving reverence and
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Child-Life in Nazareth
THE stay of the Holy Family in Egypt must have been of brief duration. The cup of Herod's misdeeds, but also of his misery, was full. During the whole latter part of his life, the dread of a rival to the throne had haunted him, and he had sacrificed thousands, among them those nearest and dearest to him, to lay that ghost. [1084] And still the tyrant was not at rest. A more terrible scene is not presented in history than that of the closing days of Herod. Tormented by nameless fears; ever and again
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

He Division of the Land.
T The Jewish writers divide the whole world into "The land of Israel," and "Without the land": that is, the countries of the heathen. Both which phrases the book of the gospel owns: "The land of Israel," Matthew 2:20: and it calls the heathens, "those that are without," 1 Corinthians 5:13; 1 Timothy 3:7, &c. And sometimes the unbelieving Jews themselves, as Mark 4:11. They distinguish all the people of the world into "Israelites," and "the nations of the world." The book of the gospel owns that phrase
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

Chronology of the Life of Christ.
See the Lit. in §14, p. 98, especially Browne, Wieseler, Zumpt, Andrews, and Keim We briefly consider the chronological dates of the life of Christ. I. The Year of the Nativity.--This must be ascertained by historical and chronological research, since there is no certain and harmonious tradition on the subject. Our Christians aera, which was introduced by the Roman abbot Dionysius Exiguus, in the sixth century, and came into general use two centuries later, during the reign of Charlemagne, puts
Philip Schaff—History of the Christian Church, Volume I

Literature. I. Sources. The works of the Greek and Roman Classics from Homer to Virgil and the age of the Antonines. The monuments of Antiquity. The writings of the early Christian Apologists, especially Justin Martyr: Apologia I. and II.; Tertullian: Apologeticus; Minucius Felix: Octavius; Eusebius: Praeparatio Evangelica; and Augustine (d. 430): De Civitate Dei (the first ten books). II. Later Works. Is. Vossius: De theologia gentili et physiolog. Christ. Frcf. 1675, 2 vols. Creuzer (d. 1858):
Philip Schaff—History of the Christian Church, Volume I

All My Prefaces to the Books of the Old Testament, Some Specimens of which I Subjoin, are Witnesses for Me on this Point; and it is Needless to State the Matter Otherwise than it is Stated in Them.
I have received letters so long and eagerly desired from my dear Desiderius [3137] who, as if the future had been foreseen, shares his name with Daniel, [3138] entreating me to put our friends in possession of a translation of the Pentateuch from Hebrew into Latin. The work is certainly hazardous and it is exposed to the [3139] attacks of my calumniators, who maintain that it is through contempt of the Seventy that I have set to work to forge a new version to take the place of the old. They thus
Various—Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.

The Great Slaughters and Sacrilege that were in Jerusalem.
1. Accordingly Simon would not suffer Matthias, by whose means he got possession of the city, to go off without torment. This Matthias was the son of Boethus, and was one of the high priests, one that had been very faithful to the people, and in great esteem with them; he, when the multitude were distressed by the zealots, among whom John was numbered, persuaded the people to admit this Simon to come in to assist them, while he had made no terms with him, nor expected any thing that was evil from
Flavius Josephus—The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem

In Judaea
If Galilee could boast of the beauty of its scenery and the fruitfulness of its soil; of being the mart of a busy life, and the highway of intercourse with the great world outside Palestine, Judaea would neither covet nor envy such advantages. Hers was quite another and a peculiar claim. Galilee might be the outer court, but Judaea was like the inner sanctuary of Israel. True, its landscapes were comparatively barren, its hills bare and rocky, its wilderness lonely; but around those grey limestone
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Supplementary Note to Chapter ii. The Year of Christ's Birth.
The Christian era commences on the 1st of January of the year 754 of the city of Rome. That our Lord was born about the time stated in the text may appear from the following considerations-- The visit of the wise men to Bethlehem must have taken place a very few days after the birth of Jesus, and before His presentation in the temple. Bethlehem was not the stated residence of Joseph and Mary, either before or after the birth of the child (Luke i. 26, ii. 4, 39; Matt. ii. 2). They were obliged to
William Dool Killen—The Ancient Church

Two Famous Versions of the Scriptures
[Illustration: (drop cap B) Samaritan Book of the Law] By the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, on the coast of Egypt, lies Alexandria, a busy and prosperous city of to-day. You remember the great conqueror, Alexander, and how nation after nation had been forced to submit to him, until all the then-known world owned him for its emperor? He built this city, and called it after his own name. About a hundred years before the days of Antiochus (of whom we read in our last chapter) a company of Jews
Mildred Duff—The Bible in its Making

The King's Herald.
"On Jordan's banks the Baptist's cry Announces that the Lord is nigh; Awake and hearken, for he brings Glad tidings of the King...." When the Saviour of the world was about to enter upon His public ministry, the Jewish nation was startled with the cry, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (S. Matt. iii. 2). Such was God's call to His people of old time, to prepare themselves to take part in the fulfilment of the promises, on which their faith and hopes were founded. The fulness of the times had come;
Edward Burbidge—The Kingdom of Heaven; What is it?

Commencement of the Legends Concerning Jesus --His Own Idea of his Supernatural Character.
Jesus returned to Galilee, having completely lost his Jewish faith, and filled with revolutionary ardor. His ideas are now expressed with perfect clearness. The innocent aphorisms of the first part of his prophetic career, in part borrowed from the Jewish rabbis anterior to him, and the beautiful moral precepts of his second period, are exchanged for a decided policy. The Law would be abolished; and it was to be abolished by him.[1] The Messiah had come, and he was the Messiah. The kingdom of God
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

Blessed are they that Mourn
Blessed are they that mourn. Matthew 5:4 Here are eight steps leading to true blessedness. They may be compared to Jacob's Ladder, the top whereof reached to heaven. We have already gone over one step, and now let us proceed to the second: Blessed are they that mourn'. We must go through the valley of tears to paradise. Mourning were a sad and unpleasant subject to treat on, were it not that it has blessedness going before, and comfort coming after. Mourning is put here for repentance. It implies
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

The Messianic Prophecies in the Pentateuch.
In the Messianic prophecies contained in Genesis we cannot fail to perceive a remarkable progress in clearness and definiteness. The first Messianic prediction, which was uttered immediately after the fall of Adam, is also the most indefinite. Opposed to the awful threatening there stands the consolatory promise, that the dominion of sin, and of the evil arising from sin, shall not last for ever, but that the seed of the woman shall, at some future time, overthrow their dreaded conqueror. With the
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Birth of Jesus.
(at Bethlehem of Judæa, b.c. 5.) ^C Luke II. 1-7. ^c 1 Now it came to pass in those days [the days of the birth of John the Baptist], there went out a decree [a law] from Cæsar Augustus [Octavius, or Augustus, Cæsar was the nephew of and successor to Julius Cæsar. He took the name Augustus in compliment to his own greatness; and our month August is named for him; its old name being Sextilis], that all the world should be enrolled. [This enrollment or census was the first step
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Roman Pilgrimage: the Miracles which were Wrought in It.
[Sidenote: 1139] 33. (20). It seemed to him, however, that one could not go on doing these things with sufficient security without the authority of the Apostolic See; and for that reason he determined to set out for Rome, and most of all because the metropolitan see still lacked, and from the beginning had lacked, the use of the pall, which is the fullness of honour.[507] And it seemed good in his eyes[508] that the church for which he had laboured so much[509] should acquire, by his zeal and labour,
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh

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