Matthew 2:3 – 6
3 When Herod the king heard this he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had fathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 But you Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”
We have looked at verse 3 in our last installment so I will not expound upon it again. I included it only because it bring continuity to verses 4-6.
The 5 books of Moses point out that the roll of the chief Priest was to a position for life and it was hereditary. Hereditary in meaning that only first born son is in the Line of Aaron the brother of Moses were to be High Priests. However, during this time the High Priest was not of the line of Aaron. He had been appointed by Herod. Interestingly over the 33 years Herod ruled as King he appointed 9 different High Priests. When Herod had been appointed King he had the High Priest and several other priests killed as a way of eliminating any threat to the throne.
Now here comes this command from Herod that the chief priests, which was a group of 24 priests, each in charge of their own course in the temple worship service through the a calendar year along with the scribes should appear before Herod.
These scribes were lawyers or doctors of the law. It was there job to study the scriptures and other sacred writings such as the Talmud and other books and then apply law or govern the people based upon their interpretation of the law and to instruct the people in religious and civil affairs.
With Herod’s dealing with the Priests before, I would imagine they were very anxious as to the reason for this sudden summons before the court of Herod.
5 He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. All the city was abuzz by the inquiry of the Wise men as to where the New Born King was and now Herod is asking them. It might have made for an interesting scene to be one in attendance at this meeting. I am not sure if the faces of these men standing before Herod would have shown signs of relief or of greater anxiety upon the asking of the question, “Where the Christ was to be born.”
The question I have always wondered when reading this passage was how long did it take them before they had an answer. They had missed the signs of his coming. Luke in his gospel, tell us of Jesus first visit to Jerusalem when 8 days old to be dedicated at the temple and his name recorded and for the right of circumcision to be performed. Anna and Simeon had both testified of this child being the promised Messiah. The shepherds told all they saw of what happened that night upon the hills of Bethlehem and of their visit to the Baby (see Luke 2:1-38). All this had to have served as a wakeup call, yet Jerusalem slumbered in spiritual sleep until the coming of the wise men from the East.
They said from the book of Micah 5:2; “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rules of Judah: For out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.”
What a wonderful verse. Christ who is the good Shepherd and who is also Ruler will come out of Bethlehem in the land of Judah. How often while on earth did Christ refer to us as sheep and Himself as the Shepherd. 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27, 28