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Matthew 2:6

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda - To distinguish it from Bethlehem, in the tribe of Zebulon. Joshua 19:15. See on Matthew 2:1; (note).

Art not the least - In Micah 5:2, it is read, Though thou be little - להיות צעיר tsdir lehayoth, little to be. Houbigant, struck with the oddness of the construction of the Hebrew, by dividing the last word, and making a small change in two of the letters, makes the prophet agree with the evangelist, ,tsilegna היית לא צעיר tsdir lo hayita, thou art not the least. Several learned men are of opinion, that the copy from which St. Matthew quoted, had the text in this way. However, some MSS. of very good note, among which is the Codex Bezae, have μη ελαχιστη ει, for ουδαμως ελαχιστη ει, Art thou not the least? This reconciles the prophet and evangelist without farther trouble. See the authorities for this reading in Griesbach and Wetstein.

Among the princes of Juda - In Micah 5:2, it is, the thousands of Judah. There is much reason to believe that each tribe was divided into small portions called thousands, as in England certain small divisions of counties are called hundreds. For the proof of the first, the reader is referred to Judges 6:15, where, instead of my Family is poor in Manasseh, the Hebrew is, my Thousand (אלפי ) is the meanest in Manasseh: and to 1 Samuel 10:19, Present yourselves before the Lord by your Tribes and by your Thousands: and to 1 Chronicles 12:20, Captains of the Thousands of Manasseh. Now these Thousands being petty governments, Matthew renders them by the word ηγεμοσιν, because the word princes or governors was more intelligible in the Greek tongue than thousands, though, in this case, they both signify the same. See Wakefield.

That shall rule my people Israel - Οστις ποιμανει, Who shall Feed my people. That is as a shepherd feeds his flock. Among the Greeks, kings are called, by Homer, λαων ποιμενες, shepherds of the people. This appellation probably originated from the pastoral employment, which kings and patriarchs did not blush to exercise in the times of primitive simplicity; and it might particularly refer to the case of David, the great type of Christ, who was a keeper of his father's sheep, before he was raised to the throne of Israel. As the government of a good king was similar to the care a good shepherd has of his flock, hence ποιμην signified both shepherd and king; and ποιμαινω, to feed and to rule among the ancient Greeks.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Those who live at the greatest distance from the means of grace often use most diligence, and learn to know the most of Christ and his salvation. But no curious arts, or mere human learning, can direct men unto him. We must learn of Christ by attending to the word of God, as a light that shineth in a dark place, and by seeking the teaching of the Holy Spirit. And those in whose hearts the day-star is risen, to give them any thing of the knowledge of Christ, make it their business to worship him. Though Herod was very old, and never had shown affection for his family, and was not himself likely to live till a new-born infant had grown up to manhood, he began to be troubled with the dread of a rival. He understood not the spiritual nature of the Messiah's kingdom. Let us beware of a dead faith. A man may be persuaded of many truths, and yet may hate them, because they interfere with his ambition, or sinful indulgences. Such a belief will make him uneasy, and the more resolved to oppose the truth and the cause of God; and he may be foolish enough to hope for success therein.
Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 697

“Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him:
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.
He shall feed His flock like a shepherd:
He shall gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And shall gently lead those that are with young.”
PK 697.1

Isaiah 40:9-11. PK 697

“And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the Book,
And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out
of darkness.
The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord,
And the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One
of Israel.”
PK 697.2

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 62

This inquiry from the usurper of the throne, and made at the request of strangers, stung the pride of the Jewish teachers. The indifference with which they turned to the rolls of prophecy enraged the jealous tyrant. He thought them trying to conceal their knowledge of the matter. With an authority they dared not disregard, he commanded them to make close search, and to declare the birthplace of their expected King. “And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, DA 62.1

“And thou Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Art in nowise least among the princes of Judah:
For out of thee shall come forth a governor,
Which shall be shepherd of My people Israel.”
DA 62.2

R. V. DA 62

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 457

The rulers were silenced; and many of the people exclaimed, “Is not this He, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?” DA 457.1

Many among Christ's hearers who were dwellers at Jerusalem, and who were not ignorant of the plots of the rulers against Him, felt themselves drawn to Him by an irresistible power. The conviction pressed upon them that He was the Son of God. But Satan was ready to suggest doubt; and for this the way was prepared by their own erroneous ideas of the Messiah and His coming. It was generally believed that Christ would be born at Bethlehem, but that after a time He would disappear, and at His second appearance none would know whence He came. There were not a few who held that the Messiah would have no natural relationship to humanity. And because the popular conception of the glory of the Messiah was not met by Jesus of Nazareth, many gave heed to the suggestion, “Howbeit we know this Man whence He is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is.” DA 457.2

While they were thus wavering between doubt and faith, Jesus took up their thoughts and answered them: “Ye both know Me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, whom ye know not.” They claimed a knowledge of what the origin of Christ should be, but they were in utter ignorance of it. If they had lived in accordance with the will of God, they would have known His Son when He was manifested to them. DA 457.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 44

With amazement the heavenly messengers beheld the indifference of that people whom God had called to communicate to the world the light of sacred truth. The Jewish nation had been preserved as a witness that Christ was to be born of the seed of Abraham and of David's line; yet they knew not that His coming was now at hand. In the temple the morning and the evening sacrifice daily pointed to the Lamb of God; yet even here was no preparation to receive Him. The priests and teachers of the nation knew not that the greatest event of the ages was about to take place. They rehearsed their meaningless prayers, and performed the rites of worship to be seen by men, but in their strife for riches and worldly honor they were not prepared for the revelation of the Messiah. The same indifference pervaded the land of Israel. Hearts selfish and world-engrossed were untouched by the joy that thrilled all heaven. Only a few were longing to behold the Unseen. To these heaven's embassy was sent. DA 44.1

Angels attend Joseph and Mary as they journey from their home in Nazareth to the city of David. The decree of imperial Rome for the enrollment of the peoples of her vast dominion has extended to the dwellers among the hills of Galilee. As in old time Cyrus was called to the throne of the world's empire that he might set free the captives of the Lord, so Caesar Augustus is made the agent for the fulfillment of God's purpose in bringing the mother of Jesus to Bethlehem. She is of the lineage of David, and the Son of David must be born in David's city. Out of Bethlehem, said the prophet, “shall He come forth ... that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2, margin. But in the city of their royal line, Joseph and Mary are unrecognized and unhonored. Weary and homeless, they traverse the entire length of the narrow street, from the gate of the city to the eastern extremity of the town, vainly seeking a resting place for the night. There is no room for them at the crowded inn. In a rude building where the beasts are sheltered, they at last find refuge, and here the Redeemer of the world is born. DA 44.2

Men know it not, but the tidings fill heaven with rejoicing. With a deeper and more tender interest the holy beings from the world of light are drawn to the earth. The whole world is brighter for His presence. Above the hills of Bethlehem are gathered an innumerable throng of angels. They wait the signal to declare the glad news to the world. Had the leaders in Israel been true to their trust, they might have shared the joy of heralding the birth of Jesus. But now they are passed by. DA 47.1

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 759

God could have destroyed Satan and his sympathizers as easily as one can cast a pebble to the earth; but He did not do this. Rebellion was not to be overcome by force. Compelling power is found only under Satan's government. The Lord's principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used. God's government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power. DA 759.1

It was God's purpose to place things on an eternal basis of security, and in the councils of heaven it was decided that time must be given for Satan to develop the principles which were the foundation of his system of government. He had claimed that these were superior to God's principles. Time was given for the working of Satan's principles, that they might be seen by the heavenly universe. DA 759.2

Satan led men into sin, and the plan of redemption was put in operation. For four thousand years, Christ was working for man's uplifting, and Satan for his ruin and degradation. And the heavenly universe beheld it all. DA 759.3

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