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The Visit of the Wise Men

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time[a] of King Herod,[b] wise men[c] from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[d] and have come to worship him.” When King Herod[e] heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem[f] with him. After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law,[g] he asked them where the Christ[h] was to be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are in no way least among the rulers of Judah,
for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”[i]

Then Herod[j] privately summoned the wise men and determined from them when the star had appeared. He[k] sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well.” After listening to the king they left, and once again[l] the star they saw when it rose[m] led them until it stopped above the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star they shouted joyfully.[n] 11 As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down[o] and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense,[p] and myrrh.[q] 12 After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod,[r] they went back by another route to their own country.

The Escape to Egypt

13 After they had gone, an[s] angel of the Lord[t] appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod[u] is going to look for the child to kill him.” 14 Then he got up, took the child and his mother during[v] the night, and went to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod[w] died. In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”[x]

16 When Herod[y] saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged. He sent men[z] to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under, according to the time he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

18 A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud wailing,[aa]
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she did not want to be comforted, because they were[ab] gone.”[ac]

The Return to Nazareth

19 After Herod[ad] had died, an[ae] angel of the Lord[af] appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21 So[ag] he got up and took the child and his mother and returned to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus[ah] was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod,[ai] he was afraid to go there. After being warned in a dream, he went to the regions of Galilee. 23 He came to a town called Nazareth[aj] and lived there. Then what had been spoken by the prophets was fulfilled, that Jesus[ak] would be called a Nazarene.[al]


  1. Matthew 2:1 tn Grk “in the days.”
  2. Matthew 2:1 sn King Herod was Herod the Great, who ruled Judea (with the support of Rome) from 37 b.c. until he died in 4 b.c. He was known for his extensive building projects (including the temple in Jerusalem) and for his cruelty.
  3. Matthew 2:1 sn The Greek term here, sometimes transliterated into English as magi, describes a class of wise men and priests who were astrologers (L&N 32.40).
  4. Matthew 2:2 tn Or “in its rising,” referring to the astrological significance of a star in a particular portion of the sky. The term used for the “East” in v. 1 is ἀνατολαί (anatolai, a plural form that is used typically of the rising of the sun), while in vv. 2 and 9 the singular ἀνατολή (anatolē) is used. The singular is typically used of the rising of a star and as such should not normally be translated “in the east” (cf. BDAG 74 s.v. 1: “because of the sg. and the article in contrast to ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, vs. 1, [it is] prob. not a geograph. expr. like the latter, but rather astronomical…likew. vs. 9”).
  5. Matthew 2:3 sn See the note on King Herod in 2:1.
  6. Matthew 2:3 tn Here the city (Jerusalem) is put by metonymy for its inhabitants (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 579).
  7. Matthew 2:4 tn Or “and scribes of the people.” The traditional rendering of γραμματεύς (grammateus) as “scribe” does not communicate much to the modern English reader, for whom the term might mean “professional copyist,” if it means anything at all. The people referred to here were recognized experts in the law of Moses and in traditional laws and regulations. Thus “expert in the law” comes closer to the meaning for the modern reader.
  8. Matthew 2:4 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 1:16.
  9. Matthew 2:6 sn A quotation from Mic 5:2.
  10. Matthew 2:7 sn See the note on King Herod in 2:1.
  11. Matthew 2:8 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.
  12. Matthew 2:9 tn Grk “and behold the star.”
  13. Matthew 2:9 tn See the note on the word “rose” in 2:2.
  14. Matthew 2:10 tn Grk “they rejoiced with very great joy.”
  15. Matthew 2:11 tn Grk “they fell down.” BDAG 815 s.v. πίπτω 1.b.α.ב has “fall down, throw oneself to the ground as a sign of devotion, before high-ranking persons or divine beings.”
  16. Matthew 2:11 sn Frankincense refers to the aromatic resin of certain trees, used as a sweet-smelling incense (L&N 6.212).
  17. Matthew 2:11 sn Myrrh consisted of the aromatic resin of certain shrubs (L&N 6.208). It was widely used in the ancient Near East by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans as perfume, as incense, and for medicinal purposes (W. Michaelis, TDNT 7:457). It was also used in preparing a corpse for burial (cf. John 19:39).
  18. Matthew 2:12 sn See the note on King Herod in 2:1.
  19. Matthew 2:13 tn Grk “behold, an angel.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1).
  20. Matthew 2:13 tn Or “the angel of the Lord.” See the note on the word “Lord” in 1:20.
  21. Matthew 2:13 sn See the note on King Herod in 2:1. Herod the Great was particularly ruthless regarding the succession to his throne.
  22. Matthew 2:14 tn The feminine singular genitive noun νυκτός (nuktos, “night”) indicates the time during which the action of the main verb takes place (ExSyn 124).
  23. Matthew 2:15 sn See the note on King Herod in 2:1.
  24. Matthew 2:15 sn A quotation from Hos 11:1.
  25. Matthew 2:16 sn See the note on King Herod in 2:1. Note the fulfillment of the prophecy given by the angel in 2:13.
  26. Matthew 2:16 tn Or “soldiers.”
  27. Matthew 2:18 tc The LXX of Jer 38:15 (31:15 ET) has “lamentation, weeping, and loud wailing”; most later mss (C D L W Γ Δ 0233 ƒ13 33 565 579 700 1241 1424 M) have a quotation in Matthew which conforms to that of the LXX (θρῆνος καὶ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμός; thrēnos kai klauthmos kai odurmos). But such assimilations were routine among the scribes; as such, they typically should be discounted because they are both predictable and motivated. The shorter reading, without “lamentation and,” is thus to be preferred, especially since it cannot easily be accounted for unless it is the reading that gave rise to the other reading. Further, it is found in the better mss along with a good cross-section of other witnesses (א B Z 0250 ƒ1 lat co).
  28. Matthew 2:18 tn Grk “are”; the Greek text uses a present tense verb.
  29. Matthew 2:18 sn A quotation from Jer 31:15.
  30. Matthew 2:19 sn See the note on King Herod in 2:1. When Herod the Great died in 4 b.c., his kingdom was divided up among his three sons: Archelaus, who ruled over Judea (where Bethlehem was located, v. 22); Philip, who became tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis (cf. Luke 3:1); and Antipas, who became tetrarch of Galilee.
  31. Matthew 2:19 tn Grk “behold, an angel.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1).
  32. Matthew 2:19 tn Or “the angel of the Lord.” See the note on the word “Lord” in 1:20.
  33. Matthew 2:21 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the angel’s instructions.
  34. Matthew 2:22 sn Archelaus took after his father Herod the Great in terms of cruelty and ruthlessness, so Joseph was afraid to go there. After further direction in a dream, he went instead to Galilee.
  35. Matthew 2:22 sn See the note on King Herod in 2:1.
  36. Matthew 2:23 sn Nazareth was a very small village in the region of Galilee (Galilee lay north of Samaria and Judea). The town was located about 15 mi (25 km) west of the southern edge of the Sea of Galilee. According to Luke 1:26, Mary was living in Nazareth when the birth of Jesus was announced to her.
  37. Matthew 2:23 tn There is no expressed subject of the third person singular verb here; the pronoun “he” is implied. Instead of this pronoun the referent “Jesus” has been supplied in the text to clarify to whom this statement refers.
  38. Matthew 2:23 tn The Greek could be indirect discourse (as in the text), or direct discourse (“he will be called a Nazarene”). Judging by the difficulty of finding OT quotations (as implied in the plural “prophets”) to match the wording here, it appears that the author was using a current expression of scorn that conceptually (but not verbally) found its roots in the OT.

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