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& son, and they shall call hising interpreted, is, God with name Emmanuel; which, be- us.
sion was singularly applicable to the them captive to Assyria. And Hocircumstances which he was relating; shea, the son of Elah, made a conit might be applied to them with a spiracy against Pekah, the son of greater fulness and particularity, than Remaliah, and smote him, and slew to the occasion which first called it him.” In the 16th chapter of the forth. It was spoken by Isaiah (7: same book, it is also related, that Tig14) to king Ahaz, when the king and lath-pileser, “ king of Assyria, went all his people were filled with terror, up against Damascus (the chief city in view of an invasion threatened by of Syria), and took it, and carried the the confederated kings of Israel and people of it captive to Kir, and slew Syria. Isaiah was directed by the Rezin "[who is mentioned by Isaiah). Lord to go to Ahaz, and bid him dis- The death of these kings occurred miss his fears, because the design of shortly after their attempt upon Jeru. the confederated kings should not be salem. Thus the language of Isaiah accomplished. He was commissioned, appears to have had reference to moreover, to assure Ahaz, that Syria events that were speedily to take had already arrived to the height of place; and, thus understood, it was its power; that it would be allowed to happily adapted to the circumstances make no such addition to its power as of Ahaz and his people. the conquest of Jerusalem would be; But it may be asked, How could the and that the kingdom of Israel was name Emmanuel be given to the son already on the wane, and within sixty- whose birth was predicted, if there five years would be wholly broken up. was nothing uncommon in his nature ? Ahaz might, therefore, set his mind at This inquiry is answered by referring rest, and place unshaken confidence to a usual practice, among the ear in God. It was then proposed to him Jews, of giving to children names to ask some particular token from the significant of some circumstance or Lord, as an assurance of what God event, and of employing the name of had promised. On his declining to God in compounding names for chilselect a sign, the prophet himself was dren. In the case spoken of by Isai. directed by the Lord to mention one; ah, the nation was in dread of an innamely, that a certain virgin should vasion from powerful confederated soon become the mother of a son, and foes; and in view of their danger, should call his name Emmanuel ; and their hearts trembled like the leaves that before this child should be old of a forest. But they were encourenough to refuse the evil and to choose aged to be quiet, because God was on the good, the kings of Israel and Syria their side; and to the child whose should both be cut off.
birth was foretold, a name was to be The language, then, here quoted given significant of the promised in. from Isaiah, had reference, probably, terposition of God. Other names in at first, to the deliverance of Jerusalem the Jewish nation were compounded from the threatened invasion. The of some common word, and of the history of those times, as related in name of God; as, for instance, Joshua, the Old Testament, agrees with this Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, &c. view. In 2 Kings 15: 29, 30, it is re The use which Matthew has made lated that "in the days of Pekah, king of this passage, has led to the belief of Israel [the same as mentioned by that Isaiah really predicted in those Isaiah), came Tiglath-pileser, king of words the birth of Jesus Christ; and Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth- the language of Matthew does cermaacha, and Janoah, and Kedesh, tainly, at first sight, appear to favor and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, this belief. It is proper, then, to inall the land of Naphtali, and carried quire whether the language of Mal.
24 Then Joseph, being raised the Lord had bidden him, and from sleep, did as the angel of took unto him his wife : thew necessarily leads to this view this last instance, there is so striking a of the passage quoted from Isaiah. resemblance, that the language emIn prosecuting this inquiry, we must ployed by Jeremiah might be regardconsider in what ways the sacred ed as more applicable to the event writers employ the word fulfil. In related by Matthew, than to the event reading the Scriptures, we are prone spoken of by. Jeremiah; that is, the to regard this word, as used in its language might be considered as strict sense, to express an accomplish- more fully and exactly adapted to the ment of a direct prophecy. But it is event related by Matthew. And yet also employed with a wider significa- the connection in which Jeremiah tion, and is as extensive in meaning has introduced it, clearly shows that as our word fulfil, used in common he did not have in mind, nor preconversation, or in ordinary books. dict, the event to which' Matthew Now, we often use the word as ex- applies it. pressing a remarkable similarity in
The verse under consideration is one event to another, or a striking another instance of very striking resimilarity in certain events to certain semblance; so striking, indeed, is the language with which we are familiar. resemblance, that what was done in Such an event, we may say, fulfils the Old Testament times might be such a saying; while yet, when the represented as done again in a more saying was first expressed, that event full and exact manner. And the lanwas not thought of. In some pas. guage used in reference to the event sages of the New Testament, this in the Old Testament might be reword does express the real accom- garded as applicable, in a more full plishment of a direct prophecy. In and striking manner, to the event reother passages, it merely expresses lated in the New; so that the event resemblance, more or less exact, be- related in the New Testament might tween two events, or between lan- be considered as verifying, or filling guage in the Old Testament and an up, the language used in the Old. event recorded in the New; so that the some points of this resemblance may language employed in the Old Testa- be stated. 1. The Jews were in ment with reference to a particular great distress on account of the imevent, might also be happily applied to minent danger to which they were a different event recorded in the New. exposed. So the whole human race Sometimes the resemblance between were regarded as in imminent peril, the event spoken of in the Old Tes- in respect to their eternal welfare. tament and that related in the New, 2. For the deliverance of the Jews, is so striking, and the resemblance God was about to interpose. So, for between accompanying circumstances the spiritual deliverance of men, in each event is so remarkable, that the God's remarkable interposition was language employed in the Old Testa- about to be manifested. 3. As a ment would seem to be more fully pledge of the interposition for the and exactly applicable to the event Jews, a son was soon to be born to recorded in the New. Among the one who was then a virgin, and to instances of these different meanings this son to be given a name of the word fulfil, Mark 15: 28, com- significant of God's protection. So, pared with Isaiah 53: 12, may be as the pledge and the agent of the mentioned, as an accomplishment of spiritual deliverance for the human a direct prophecy. As instances of family, a son was to be born, miracresemblance, see Matt. 2: 15, com- ulously conceived, and to whom a pared with Hos. 11:1; and Matt. 2: name was assigned, expressive of 17, 18, compared with Jer. 31 : 15. In his being the divinely-appointed Sa
25 And knew her not till CHAPTER II. she had brought forth her first- VOW when Jesus was born born son: and he called his in Bethlehem of Judea, in Dame JESUS.
the days of Herod the king, viour. 4. As the son promised in 5. Jesus Christ is the Saviour from token of the Jews' deliverance from the dominion and practice of sin, as their temporal distress was to be well as from its consequences. See named Emmanuel, a name express- Titus 2:11-14. Do we trust in him ing the presence of God among his as our deliverer from sin, endeavoring people, so to the son miraculously to regulate our hearts and lives by his conceived, and designed to be the precepts, and to follow his example ? spiritual Saviour of men, was to be- See 1 Pet. 2:21—25. long what was really contained in the meaning of the name Emmanuel ;
CHAPTER II. to him, that name,
in all its fulness, would be applicable; and when he 1. Bethlehem of Judea. Bethlehem should appear on his benevolent er- was a town about six miles south of Tand, most truly and strikingly might Jerusalem. It was called Bethlehem he be called “Emmanuel, which, being of Judea, to distinguish it from a town interpreted, is, God with us." Com- of the same name in the tribe of Zebupare 1 Tim. 3:16.
lun, in the north part of the country. 25. Her first-born son. This term Josh. 19 : 15. Judges 12: 10. Judea does not necessarily imply that the was the name, in the time of Christ mother of Jesus had other children and some time before, of the southern afterwards. That she had, however, part of the country. The name Bethis a natural construction; and it agrees lehem literally signifies house of bread; well with such statements as occur and was probably indicative of the ferin Matthew 12: 46, John 2: 12. The tility of the region around. Volney, words brother and sister were indeed in his Travels, says, “ The soil of sometimes used in a wider signification Bethlehem) is the best in all these disamong the Jews than among us, and tricts; fruits, vines, olives, and sesaincluded the near relatives of a person; mum, succeed here extremely well.” so that nothing certain can be stated It still retains substantially its ancient on this topic.
name, and contains about two hundred
houses. It was also named Ephrath PRACTICAL Hints suggested by (Gen. 35: 19. 48: 7), a name also this chapter.
indicative of fertility. It was the birth1. God is faithful in fulfilling his place of king David (1 Sam. 17: 12); promises. " When the fulness of the hence in Luke 2: 4, 11, it is called the time was come, God sent forth his city of David. How it happened that Son."
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, while 2. How lovely is a kind and merci- his mother's residence was Nazareth ful disposition ! v. 19.
in Galilee, Luke explains in 2:1–7. 3. In cases of distressing doubt, if || Herod the king. At the time when we wait patiently, and commit our af- Jesus was born, the whole country of fairs to God, the path of duty will the Jews, as well as the neighboring be made known. Compare Ps. 37: regions, was under the dominion of the 5,6.
Romans. The family to which Herod 4. God frequently honors the low- belonged stood high in favor with the ly in spirit, and makes them instru- Roman government, and at last he was ments of distinguished good to their established king of the Jewish nation, race. Mary, an obscure Jewish fe- though he was not a Jew by birth. male, becomes the mother of Jesus His power was very considerable, yet Christ.
he was dependent on the Roman em
behold, there came wise men 3 When Herod the king had from the east to Jerusalem, heard these things, he
? Saying, Where is he that troubled, and all Jerusalem with is born King of the Jews ? for him. we have seen his star in the east, 4 And when he had gathand are come to worship him. ered all the chief priests and peror. The name Herod was borne have no means of determining. It was by some others, his descendants, who an uncommon luminous appearance in had rule, after him, over parts of his the heavens, prepared by the special territory: The one here mentioned is providence of God for this particular distinguished by being called Herod occasion, and just such an appearance the Great. || Wise men from the east. as was suited to call the attention of A more exact representation of the these men, and guide them to the newword translated wise men, would have born king. || To worship him. There been Mugi, or Mugians. It was a is no evidence that the Magians had word appropriated to a certain class correct notions respecting the real of men among the people east of character of the new-born king of the Palestine, such as priests, philoso- Jews, or of the design of God in his phers, &c., who devoted themselves birth. They probably regarded him as to the study of astronomy, astrology, one who was destined to acquire most and medicine, and were held in high extensive sway, and they came, on the estimation among their countrymen. first intimation of his appearance, to The Magians here spoken of probably pay him respect. They were impelled, came from Arabia ; the presents which perhaps, by the desire so common they brought agree better with this among men, to see any thing remarkaopinion than with any other. ll To ble,or to bespeak, by this early homage, Jerusalem ; the chief city of the Jews. his favor, in future, for their nation. Such was the business on which they The word worship was applicable, went, that they would most naturally when our translation was made, to go immediately to the metropolis. men as well as to God, and, in refer
2. King of the Jews. It is the tes- ence to men, signified the respect and timony of ancient credible historians, courtesy paid by an inferior to a supethat, about the time of our Lord's birth, rior. For this meaning of the word there prevailed very generally in the worship, see Luke 14: 10. eastern parts of the world an expecta- 3. He wus troubled, and all Jerution of some illustrious king, who was salem. Herod was at this time about shortly to appear. This expectation is, seventy years of age. But the un. probably, to be traced to the belief subdued jealousy of his temper led him which the Jews universally cherished to forebode evil to himself, or to his son of the coming of the Messiah. The who should succeed him. The expres. Jews had been widely dispersed, and sion “all Jerusalem was troubled," wherever they went, they carried their means, just as such language would Bacred books, and adhered firmly to the mean among us, that there was in the belief of the nation. || His star in the city a general excitement. This exeast. That is, we, being in the east, citement was of a painful character. have seen his star. They noticed a Herod's friends and adherents were new celestial luminary ; being attract- disturbed for the same reasons which ed by its appearance, and noticing the excited anxiety in his mind; and othparticular quarter of the heavens in ers feared the commission of new cruel. which it appeared, and its apparent mo- ties on the part of Herod, for he was tion, they connected it with the current one of the most unreasonable and expectation of some illustrious king, cruel tyrants that ever occupied a and were induced to direct their steps throne. to Jerusalem. What this star was, we 4. Chief priests and scribes of the peo
scribes of the people together, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in he demanded of them where the land of Juda, art not the Christ should be born.
among the princes of Ju5 And they said unto him, da : for out of thee shall come In Bethlehem of Judea ; for a Governor, that shall rule my thus it is written by the prophet, people Israel.
ple; probably that collection of chief to our Lord as a proper name, had a priests and scribes who composed the significancy pointing to his official Sanhedrim. The Sanhedrim was the dignity, and to the interesting relation highest ecclesiastical and civil court of which he was to sustain to his peothe Jews, and was believed to com- ple as king (John 18: 37) and high bine the wisdom of the nation. The priest (Heb. 7: 24-28). chief priests who belonged to it, were, 5, 6. By the prophet ; Micah 5:2. besides the acting high priest, those The name Bethlehem Ephratah, emwho had previously exercised the high ployed by Micah, is explained by the priesthood, and those who were heads note on the first verse of this chapter; of the twenty-four classes into which Ephratah being the same as Ephrath. the priests had long before been divid- || Princes of Judah; that is, officers, ed. See Luke 1:5. The scribes were distinguished men. The prophet Mimen esteemed for their acquaintance cah uses the term thousands of Israel; with the law of Moses, and the tradi. the word thousands having reference tions that had been handed down, to the to a civil division of the people, such study and teaching of which they de- as is meant in 1 Sam. 10 : 19. 23: 23. voted themselves. See INTRODUCTORY The heads, or chief officers, of such EXPLANATIONS, I!I. 3. page xvi. On divisions, were called heads of thoua question pertaining peculiarly to the sands. Num. 1: 16. 10: 4. We may Jewish nation, this was the body of understand Micah, then, as speaking men whom Herod would of course directly of these divisions, while Matconsult. || Christ, more properly, the thew speaks of the heads of such diChrist ; that is, the Messiah. The visions; that is, officers or rulers. || My distinguished personage whom the people Israel. Until the time of RehoJews were expecting, they called the boam, the name Israel was applied to Messiah. This is a title of office, not the twelve tribes regarded as one peoa proper name, originally, of an indi. ple. From that time till the captivity, vidual. Its meaning is, the anointed the ten tribes which seceded and folone. The term arose from the practice lowed Jeroboam, were called, by way of anointing with oil the high priests of distinction, Israel (1 Kings 12: 16, (see Ex. 29: 4—7. Lev. 8: 12. 21: &c.); the two tribes, Judah and 10), and the kings, at least those who Benjamin, were called Judah. But were the first in their family that bore after the Babylonian captivity, the the office, or those whose right to the original practice was resumed, and succession could be disputed. See 1 the general appellation Israel was Kings 1 : 34. 2 Kings 11 : 12. Now, to given to those who acknowledged the Hebrew term, the Messiah, the Jacob, that is, Israel, as their comGreek term, the Christ, corresponds mon ancestor. exactly, as to its radical signification; There is a slight verbal difference and the Jewish title of office, the Mes- between the verse as given by Matsiah, might have been happily used in thew and as originally written by this verse. The name Jesus, we have Micah. This is sufficiently explained seen, had a signification, besides being by the fact, that Matthew doubtless ina proper name; so the word Christ, tended merely to give the idea conwhich afterwards came to be applied / veyed by the prophet. Micah speaks