Eyewitness to Christmas: Herod Killed the Young Children

Herod is waiting for the Magi to return and tell him where to find the Messiah.

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”  {Matthew 2:16}

I wouldn’t want to have been around Herod when he realized he’d been outwitted. He could be devious and is known for executing his own wife and children. When he became angry, the best thing to do was to hide.

“Their return to their own country without complying with his wishes seemed to Herod a mockery of his authority, and excited his rage. Sent forth, and slew. A band of his murderous satellites were sent, and not only slew the male children of Bethlehem, but those of that vicinity.”  {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament}

Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled.” {Matthew 2:17}

“The fact that, as stated below, he slew the children of two years and under, denotes that the star had been seen first about two years before.”  {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament}

Jeremiah 31:15 is quoted in the prophecy below.  “was first spoken with reference to the desolation of Israel by Nebuchadnezzar. The survivors of the Israelites were gathered by their conquerors as captives at Ramah. There the voice of lamentation was heard from the mothers bereft of their offspring. The prophet describes Rachel, the mother of two great tribes, as weeping and refusing to be comforted. It was still more appropriate to the bereaved mothers of Bethlehem. Within half a mile of that city was the tomb of Rachel..”  {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament}

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”  {Mathew 2:18}

Ramah was a border fortress of Judah, where the captives were collected by the generals of Nebuchadnezzar after the fall of Jerusalem.”    {Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament}

Herod showed no mercy and killed all the children, not only in Bethlehem but also the surrounding cities.

“Herod killed all the male children, not only in Bethlehem, but in all the villages of that city. Unbridled wrath, armed with an unlawful power, often carries men to absurd cruelties.” {Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary}

Herod proves just how cold hearted he truly could be. It is heartbreaking thinking of these poor mothers as their children are ripped from their arms and they witness their lives snuffed out. These women must have felt as if their own hearts had been ripped from their chest.

“This brutality was in keeping with Herod’s character. Jealousy as to his authority led him to murder two high priests, his uncle Joseph, his wife, and three of his own sons, besides many other innocent persons…It is variously estimated that from twelve to fifty were slain…Matthew does not mean that Jeremiah predicted the slaughter at Bethlehem; but that his words, though spoken as to another occasion, were so chosen of the Spirit that they might be fitly applied to this latter occasion… The image of the ancient mother of the tribe, rising from her tomb to weep, and refusing to be comforted because her children were not around her, is inimitably beautiful; and this image so strikingly portrayed the weeping in Bethlehem that Matthew adopts the words of the prophet, and says that they were here fulfilled. It was the fulfillment, not of a prediction, properly speaking, but of certain words spoken by the prophet.”  {The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels}

King Herod was a brutal and cruel man, who did not let innocent young lives stop him from doing what he desired. But our God is greater and wiser and while King Herod may have won the battle, he would never win the war.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.