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Return of the Holy Family to Nazareth from Bethlehem



Epiphany: Visit of the Magi

   Where is he that is born King of the Jews?
for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  Matthew 2:2



















Quotes & Notes on:    Matthew 2:2

  • John Wesley's Notes:
    To pay him that honour, by bowing to the earth before him, which the eastern nations used to pay to their monarchs.

  • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:
    * born. Mt 21:5; Ps 2:6; Isa 9:6; 32:1,2; Jer 23:5; Zec 9:9; Lu 2:11; 19:38 Lu 23:3,38; Joh 1:49; 12:13; 18:37; 19:12-15,19
    * his. Nu 24:17; Isa 60:3; Lu 1:78,79; Re 22:16
    * worship. Mt 2:10,11; Ps 45:11; Joh 5:23; 9:38; 20:28; Heb 1:6

  • Adam Clarke's Commentary:
     We have seen his star] Having discovered an unusual luminous appearance or meteor in the heavens, supposing these persons to have been Jews, and knowing the prophecies relative to the redemption of Israel, they probably considered this to be the star mentioned by Balaam, Nu 24:17. See the note there.

    In the east] , At its rise. and are used in the New Testament for east and west.

    To worship him.] Or, To do him homage; . The word , which is compounded of , to, and , a dog, signifies to crouch and fawn like a dog at his master's feet. It means, to prostrate oneself to another, according to the eastern custom, which is still in use. In this act, the person kneels, and puts his head between his knees, his forehead at the same time touching the ground. It was used to express both civil and religious reverence. In Hindostan, religious homage is paid by prostrating the body at full length, so that the two knees, the two hands, forehead, nose, and cheeks all touch the earth at the same time. This kind of homage is paid also to great men. AYEEN AKBERY, vol. iii. p. 227.

    As to what is here called a star, some make it a meteor, others a luminous appearance like an Aurora Borealis; others a comet! There is no doubt, the appearance was very striking: but it seems to have been a simple meteor provided for the occasion. See ACC for Mt 2:9.

  • Family Bible Notes:
     Born King of the Jews; there was at this time, as we learn from heathen writers, a general expectation throughout the east, that one would be born in Judea who should possess universal dominion. Among the Gentiles, this expectation was probably founded on some imperfect acquaintance with the prophecies of the Old Testament. In the east; in their own country, which lay east of Judea. The nature of this star we have no means of determining. It is sufficient for us to know that God in some way made known to these Magi its meaning, and influenced them to take this journey, to find and pay their homage to the new-born King.

  • 1599 Geneva Bible Notes:
      (No comment on this verse)

  • People's New Testament Commentary:
      Where is he that is born King of the Jews? Their question shows two things: (1) That they partook of the general expectation that about this time there would appear in the East a Ruler divinely appointed to his mission. The works of profane writers of this period show that this expectation was general. (2) It is plain that the wise men misapprehended the mission of Christ, and expected him to be a secular king.

    We have seen his star in the east. No certain conclusion can be reached as to what this appearance in the heavens was, and it is useless to enter into the discussion. It seemed a part of God's plan that Gentiles as well as Jews should offer homage to the infant King.

  • Robertson's Word Pictures:
        For we saw his star in the cast (eidomen gar autou ton astera en ti anatoli). This does not mean that they saw the star which was in the east. That would make them go east to follow it instead of west from the east. The words "in the east" are probably to be taken with "we saw" i.e. we were in the east when we saw it, or still more probably "we saw his star at its rising" or "when it rose" as Moffatt puts it. The singular form here (ti anatoli) does sometimes mean "east" (Re 21:13), though the plural is more common as in Mt 2:1. In Lu 1:78 the singular means dawn as the verb (aneteilen) does in Mt 4:16 (Septuagint). The Magi ask where is the one born king of the Jews. They claim that they had seen his star, either a miracle or a combination of bright stars or a comet. These men may have been Jewish proselytes and may have known of the Messianic hope, for even Vergil had caught a vision of it. The whole world was on tiptoe of expectancy for something. Moulton (Journal of Theological Studies, 1902, p. 524) "refers to the Magian belief that a star could be the fravashi, the counterpart or angel (cf. Mt 18:10) of a great man" (McNeile). They came to worship the newly born king of the Jews. Seneca (Epistle 58) tells of Magians who came to Athens with sacrifices to Plato after his death. They had their own way of concluding that the star which they had seen pointed to the birth of this Messianic king. Cicero (De Divin. i. 47) "refers to the constellation from which, on the birthnight of Alexander, Magians foretold that the destroyer of Asia was born" (McNeile). Alford is positive that no miracle is intended by the report of the Magi or by Matthew in his narrative. But one must be allowed to say that the birth of Jesus, if really God's only Son who has become Incarnate, is the greatest of all miracles. Even the methods of astrologers need not disturb those who are sure of this fact..

  • Albert Barnes' Commentary:
      Where is he, etc. There was, at this time, a prevalent expectation that some remarkable personage was about to appear in Judea. The Jews were anxiously looking for the coming of the Messiah. By computing the time mentioned by Daniel, (Da 9:25-27,) they knew that the period was approaching when the Messiah should appear. This personage, they supposed, would be a temporal prince, and they were expecting that he would deliver them from Roman bondage. It was natural that this expectation should spread into other countries. Many Jews, at that time, dwelt in Eypt, in Rome, and in Greece; many, also, had gone to eastern countries, and in every place they carried their Scriptures, and diffused the expectation that some remarkable person was about to appear. Suetonius, a Roman historian, speaking of this rumour, says :--"An ancient and settled persuasion prevailed throughout the East, that the Fates had decreed some one to proceed from Judea, who should attain universal empire." Tacitus, another Roman historian, says:---

    "Many were persuaded that it was contained in the ancient books of their priests, that at that very time the East should prevail, and that some one should proceed from Judea and possess the dominion."

    Josephus also, and Philo, two Jewish historians, make mention of the same expectation. The fact that such a person was expected is clearly attested. Under this expectation these wise men came to do him homage, and inquired anxiously where he was born?

    His star. Among the ancients, the appearance of a star or comet was regarded as an omen of some remarkable event. Many such appearances are recorded by the Roman historians at the birth or death of distinguished men. Thus, they say, that at the death of Julius Caesar a comet appeared in the heavens, and shone seven days. These wise men also considered this as an evidence that the long-expected Prince was born. It is possible that they had been led to this belief by the prophecy of Balaam, Nu 24:17, "There shall come a star out of Jacob," etc. What this star was, is not known. There have been many conjectures respecting it, but nothing is revealed concerning it. We are not to suppose that it was what we commonly mean by a star. The stars are vast bodies fixed in the heavens, and it is absurd to suppose that one of them was sent to guide the wise men. It is most probable that it was a luminous appearance, or meteor, such as we now see sometimes shoot from the sky, or such as appear stationary, which the wise men saw, and which directed them to Jerusalem. It is possible that the same thing is meant which is mentioned by Lu 2:9--"The glory of the Lord shone round about them," i.e., (See Barnes for Lu 2:9 on this place) a great light appeared shining around them. That light might have been visible from afar, and have been seen by the wise men in the East.

    In the East. This does not mean that they had seen the star to the east of themselves, but that, when they were in the East, they had seen this star. As this star was in the direction of Jerusalem, it must have been west of them. It might be translated, "We, being in the East, have seen his star." It is called his star, because they supposed it to be intended to indicate the time and place of his birth.

    To worship him. This does not mean that they had come to pay him religious homage, or to adore him. They regarded him as the King of the Jews. There is no evidence that they supposed he would be Divine. They came to honour him as a prince, or a king, not as God. The original word implies no more than this. It meant to prostrate one's self before another; to fall down and pay homage to another. This was the mode in which homage was paid to earthly kings; and this they wished to pay to the new-born King of the Jews. See the same meaning of the word in Mt 20:20; 18:26; Ac 10:25; Lu 14:10. The English word worship also meant, formerly, "to respect, to honour, to treat with civil reverence." (Webster.)

    {*} "universal empire" Vespasian, chapter 4.
    {} "Josephus also" Annals, 5, 13
    {c} "King of the Jews" Zec 9:9
    {d} "his star" Nu 24:17; Isa 9:3
    {e} "worship him" Joh 5:23

  • Jamieson-Faussett Brown:
     Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?--From this it would seem they were not themselves Jews. (Compare the language of the Roman governor, Joh 18:33, and of the Roman soldiers, Mt 27:29, with the very different language of the Jews themselves, Mt 27:42, &c.). The Roman historians, SUETONIUS and TACITUS, bear witness to an expectation, prevalent in the East, that out of Judea should arise a sovereign of the world.

    for we have seen his star in the east--Much has been written on the subject of this star; but from all that is here said it is perhaps safest to regard it as simply a luminous meteor, which appeared under special laws and for a special purpose.

    and are come to worship him--to do Him homage, as the word signifies; the nature of that homage depending on the circumstances of the case. That not civil but religious homage is meant here is plain from the whole strain of the narrative, and particularly Mt 2:11. Doubtless these simple strangers expected all Jerusalem to be full of its new-born King, and the time, place, and circumstances of His birth to be familiar to every one. Little would they think that the first announcement of His birth would come from themselves, and still less could they anticipate the startling, instead of transporting, effect which it would produce--else they would probably have sought their information regarding His birthplace in some other quarter. But God overruled it to draw forth a noble testimony to the predicted birthplace of Messiah from the highest ecclesiastical authority in the nation.

  • Spurgeon Commentary:
    What a child was this, with the fullness of divine grace upon him! Lord Jesus, make our sons and daughters to be like thee while they are yet children.

  • William Burkitt's Notes:
    Observe here, 1. The enquiry that they make after Christ: they do not ask whether he was born, but where he was born; not doubting of the fact, but ignorant of the place.

    Observe, 2. The ground of their enquiry: For we have seen his star, They had seen a star; but how did they know it was his star? Probably by divine revelation; they had a light within,, as well as a star without, or they had never seen Christ. It is likely the Holy Spirit's illumination accompanied the star's apparition. As God made known the birth of Christ to the Jews by an angel, so he manifested the same to the Gentiles by a new-created star.

    Observe, 3. The end of their journey; We are come to worship him; that is, to pay all that honour and homage which is due to a great and mighty prince; all that adoration and worship which belongs to the promised Messiah, the redeemer of the world. All honour and homage, all glory and worship, is due to Christ from the sons of men, and will be given him by those that know him.

  • Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:
    (No comment on this verse)

  • The Fourfold Gospel:
      Where is he? They seem to have expected to find all Jerusalem knowing and worshiping this new-born King. Their disappointment is shared by many modern converts from heathendom who visit so-called Christian countries, and are filled with astonishment and sadness at the ignorance and unbelief which they discover.

    That is born King of the Jews. These words were calculated to startle Herod, who was by birth neither king nor Jew. This title was accorded to Jesus by Pilate, who wrote it in his inscription, and caused it to be placed over the head of Christ upon the cross (Joh 19:19). None has borne the title since; so Jesus has stood before the world for nearly two thousand years as the last and only king of the Jews. The king of the Jews was the prophetically announced ruler of all men.

    For we saw. Those in the pagan darkness of the East rejoiced in the star. It was as "a light that shineth in a dark place" (2Pe 1:19). But those in Jerusalem appear not to have seen it, and certainly ignored it.

    His star. The great astronomer Kepler, ascertaining that there was a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in 747 A.U.C., to which conjunction the planet Mars was also added in the year 748, suggested that this grouping of stars may have formed the so-called star of Bethlehem. But this theory is highly improbable; for these planets never appeared as one star, for they were never nearer to each other than double the apparent diameter of the moon. Moreover, the magi used the word "aster," star, not "astron," a group of stars. Again, the action of the star of Bethlehem forbids us to think that it was any one of the ordinary heavenly bodies. It was a specially prepared luminous orb moving toward Bethlehem as a guiding sign, and resting over the house of Joseph as an identifying index.

    In the east. The magi were in the east; the star was in the west.

    And are come. If the reign of Edomite Herod began to fulfill the first part of Jacob's prophecy by showing the departure of the scepter from Judah (Ge 49:10), the coming of the Gentile magi began the fulfillment of the second part by becoming the firstfruits of the gathering of the people.

    To worship him. Was their worship a religious service or a mere expression of reverence for an earthly king? More likely the former. If so, the boldness with which they declared their purpose to worship proved them worthy of the benediction of Him who afterwards said, "And blessed is he whosoever shall find no occasion of stumbling in me" (Lu 7:23).





After Joseph and Mary had done everything they were supposed to do according to the law after Jesus was born, they returned to Galilee to their home in Nazareth.  There, Jesus grew and became strong and wise and God's grace was with him.

Problem: According to Matthew 2:1-23, the Magi came to see Jesus and were directed by Herod to Bethlehem, where we traditionally assume they found Jesus.  This would have been about two years after the Nativity.

See also Catholic Encyclopedia: Magi

Sidebar Study:  Childhood Through Early Manhood of Jesus

Variations in Manuscripts

Verse Variation
Luke 2:40 child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom
strong in spirit

Cross References

Current Text  Refrence Description
Luke 2:38 Luke 24:21
Mark 15:43
Luke 2:40 Luke 1:80
  1. Return to Nazareth
  2. Boyhood of Jesus until age 12 vs 40
  3. End of Luke Boyhood story, & just 1 vs.
  4. See Mt. 2:1-23 for
    1. Flight to Egypt
    2. Murder of the Innocents
    3. Return from Egypt to Nazareth


Updated:   Wednesday, March 06, 2013 at 03:51 AM



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