1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, 2“Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.” 3When King Herod heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ would be born. 5They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is written through the prophet,

6‘You Bethlehem, land of Judah,

are in no way least among the princes of Judah;

for out of you shall come a governor

who shall shepherd my people, Israel.’”

7Then Herod secretly called the wise men, and learned from them exactly what time the star appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young child. When you have found him, bring me word, so that I also may come and worship him.”

9They, having heard the king, went their way; and behold, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them until it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11They came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12Being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country another way.

13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.”

14He arose and took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt, 15and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16Then 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. 17Then that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying,

18“A voice was heard in Ramah,

lamentation, weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she wouldn’t be comforted,

because they are no more.”

19But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20“Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the young child’s life are dead.”

21He arose and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there. Being warned in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee, 23and came and lived in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets that he will be called a Nazarene.

The Use of Rabbinic Interpretative Methods in Matthew 2

Passage study | Matt 2:5 | Hershel Wayne House

New Testament writers followed identifiable practices of rabbinic interpretation without going to the fanciful extremes that were common at the time.  Examples of the four kinds of rabbinic methodology are found in the second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.   

First, Matthew’s quotation of Micah 5:2 in Matthew 2:5-6 is an example of Pshat, in which meaning is plain or simple.  Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is a plain and simple fulfillment of what was prophesied.

Second, Matthew’s quotation of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15 is an example of Remez, in which meaning is hinted at, or suggested.  God’s calling of Messiah (Yahweh’s individual son) out of Egypt following Herod’s death is seen as fulfilling the type of Yahweh’s calling Israel (his national son) out of bondage in Egypt at the time of the exodus. 

Third, Matthew’s reference to Rachel weeping for her children, in Matthew 2:17-18, is an example of Drash, in which meaning is the result of exposition or investigation.  The mourning of mothers whose infants were slaughtered by Herod at the time of Christ is seen as an application of a single point of similarity to the mourning of Jewish mothers at the time their sons were taken in captivity (Jer. 31:15).  As a wife of Jacob (Israel), and mother of some tribes (Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh), Rachel serves as a timeless representation of all Jewish mothers.

Fourth, Matthew’s reference to Jesus being called a Nazarene (Matt. 2:23) is said to be the fulfillment of what was spoken by the prophets.  This is an example of Sod, in which meaning is mysterious or secret.  While none of the prophets actually predicted that Jesus would be called a Nazarene, there are several references to his being despised and rejected, including Isaiah 53:3.  At the time of Christ, to be from Nazareth was to suffer the stigma that Matthew saw as a summation of the messianic prophecies regarding his rejection.