2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi [person or Babylonian priest or “wiseman” acquainted with the interpretation of stars and dreams as well as with other things; skilled in philosophy, medicine, natural sciences; their number and names are not recorded] from the east [“from the rising” of the sun; the geographical meaning is orient; possibly from Persia, Babylon, or Arabia] came to [arrived; probably had an entourage sufficient enough to be noticeable] Jerusalem
2:2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews [designation used at start of Jesus’ life]? We saw his star [belief that appearance of a new star heralded birth of king/important person was widespread; some think refers to Balaam’s oracle in Num. 24:17] in the east [likely means the Magi were in the east when they saw the star] and have come [the Magi were so certain about the star and its meaning that they undertook a difficult journey from their homeland to Jerusalem] to worship [to do obeisance to, to prostrate oneself before] him.”
2:3 When King Herod [Herod the Great] heard this he was disturbed [unsettled; stirred up], and all Jerusalem [a troubled Herod meant trouble for others; Herod made life difficult for everybody when things were not going his way] with him.
2:4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law [scribes: copied the Scriptures and taught others how to interpret and apply them], he asked [inquired repeatedly] them where the Christ [seen as same person as king of the Jews] was to be born.
2:5 “In Bethlehem [located about five miles from Jerusalem; means “house of bread”; Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life (cf. Jn. 6:35)] in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet [Micah 5:2] has written:
2:6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means [certainly not] least [small, least in honor] among the rulers of Judah; for [fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy changed Bethlehem to place of honor] out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd [implies guidance and pastoral care] of my people Israel [cf. 2 Sam. 5:2 where David called the shepherd of Israel].'”
2:7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact [accurate] time the star had appeared.
2:8 He [anxious to get information] sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful [exact] search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so [false intentions] that I too may go and worship him.”
2:9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead [to lead ahead, to lead further, to go before; indicates that the star actually moved] of them until it stopped [took up its position; to stand still] over the place where the child was.
2:10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed [joy is a mark of true worship].
2:11 On coming to the house [house not the place of Jesus’ birth; Magi did not arrive on night of Jesus’ birth], they saw the child [not same word to indicate an infant] with his mother Mary, and they bowed down [posture indicating humble submission] and worshiped him. Then [after worshiping] they opened their treasures [possibly a treasure chest containing their gifts] and presented him with gifts [the result of worship; gifts fit for a king] of gold and of incense [frankincense: used for medicinal/religious purposes; fragrant and rare spice] and of myrrh [valued as perfume; used in embalming (cf. Jn. 19:39)].
2:12 And having been warned [informed; literally means “receiving an answer” and may imply they had sought God’s counsel] in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned [used in the sense: to take refuge from danger] to their country [homeland] by another [different] route [way].
2:13 When they [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream [cf. Matt. 1:20-24]. “Get up [suggests urgency],” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape [flee; seek safety in flight] to Egypt [a Roman province, but not under Herod’s jurisdiction; large Jewish population there]. Stay there [perhaps Magi’s gifts helped them survive in Egypt] until I tell you [a promise that God would direct Joseph in future as in past], for Herod [insanely jealous ruler who lived in fear of intrigue and assassination; killed many people he felt were a threat, including his Jewish wife and their two sons] is going to [expresses imminence; to be about to; is on the verge of] search for the child to [purpose] kill [destroy] him.”
2:14 So he got up [urgency suggested; likely departed on the very night he had received God’s warning about Herod’s evil intentions], took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,
2:15 where he stayed until the death of Herod [read Matt. 2:19-23]. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son [cf. Hos. 11:1 (in original setting, referred to the Jews’ journey out of Egypt under Moses; Matthew saw Jesus’ experience as a later fulfillment of Hosea’s statement)].”
2:16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted [deceived, tricked, played for a fool] by the Magi, he was furious [very angry; flew into a rage], and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity [district around Bethlehem; Herod covered a wide area in attempt to kill Jesus] who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi [cf. Matt. 2:7].
2:17 Then [Matthew saw fulfillment of prophecy in Herod’s actions] what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
2:18 “A voice [call, cry] is heard in Ramah, weeping and great [much; loud] mourning [lamentation], Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
2:19 After Herod died [4 BC], an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream [fourth dream in Matthew’s Gospel (see 1:20; 2:12,13); Joseph stayed in Egypt as instructed and until he received further instructions (see 2:13)] to Joseph in Egypt
2:20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those [Herod and those under his orders (possibly included Herod’s family members)] who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
2:21 So he [Joseph obeyed what God instructed him to do; he trusted God] got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.
2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus [the worst of Herod’s son; a violent man who began his reign by slaughtering three thousand influential people] was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid [because Archelaus had a reputation for being cruel] to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee [this district assigned to Herod Antipas, another of Herod’s sons],
Note: Herod’s kingdom was divided between his three sons. Archelaus received Judea, Samaria, and Idumea. Herod Antipas received Galilee and Perea. Herod Philip II received Traconitis.
2:23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth [located about 70 miles north of Bethlehem; Joseph and Mary’s former home (Lk. 1:26,27; 2:4,39); Nazareth is not mentioned in OT]. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene [sounds like Heb. word (neser) for branch (see Isa. 11:1)].”