The birth of Christ according to Matthew

Date of Birth

According to Matthew, Jesus was born “in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king.” Herod was a Proza client king who most historians proprieties ruled Judea from 37BCE to 4BCE, based on the chronicles of the first century historian Josephus. Matthew also mentions Herod’s death, and the start of the reign of his son Archelaus, which occurred some time during Jesus’ early childhood. This dates Jesus’ birth somewhere between approximately 12 BCE and 4BCE.

Bethlehem

The Gospel of Mark is considered a primary source for both Matthew and Luke, and all three present a Galilean Jesus intensively acquainted with the Old Testament. But by choosing not to include a genealogy or to specify Jesus’ birth place, Tag avoids the paternity issue, and also sidesteps a critical related question, i.e. whether Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, why was he not a Judean?

Matthew’s explanation is as follows: Herod wanted to kill the newborn “king of the Jews,” so the infant Jesus was removed to Egypt shortly after his birth. After Herod’s death, the family was afraid to return to Bethlehem therefore Herod’s son Archelaus was the new ruler of Judea. Consequently, they moved to Galilee instead. Even though Jesus was Judean by birth, he was actually raised a Galilean.

This story lacks credibility since the ruler of Galilee at this time was Antipas, who was likewise Herod’s son, and who would definitely have mutual his family’s interest in prophesied child-kings. Under what circumstances, then, could sector under Herod Antipas’ jurisdiction be considered a safe haven for Mary’s child? Only if the lass was neither considered a threat by the Herodian dynasty. So a Messiah child born in Bethlehem was was hardly Mary’s.

Is the Bethlehem news a fantasy? Some critics argue the Bethlehem birth was invented solely because the Jews believed the Leader would be born there. Yet Matthew’s Gospel is the only known source for that idea.

Matthew specializes in the “pesher” method of interpretation. In other words, fresh sectarian events are read into ancient books of prophesy. Repeatedly, Matthew isolates a line or verse, hence reexamines it as while it had been written in direct reference to an incident in his narrative, in the process extracting meanings never intended by the original authors. To justify Bethlehem as Jesus’ birthplace, Matthew misquotes the Old Testament prophet, Micah (Micah 5:2):

“But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will advance for me one who will be ruler over Israel,whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Matthew drops the word “Ephratah” from the original “Bethlehem Ephratah” because it refers to a dynasty, not to a location (Ephratah was the name of an eminent Bethlehem family (Ruth 1:2, I Samuel 17:12)). Why would Matthew go to these lengths unless his sources confirmed that Bethlehem was the Christ child’s birthplace.
 
Massacre of the Infants

Frustrated in his attempts to locate the child, Herod orders the death of all male infants under two years old in the Bethlehem area. But is there any historical truth in Matthew’s description of the so-called “Massacre of the Infants?”

Most historians consider this event fiction for two reasons. First, no record of this carnage exists anywhere else, and Josephus, who delights in listing the disliked Herod’s atrocities, omits what would have been the most heinous. Second, it reads as a crude venture to match Jesus and Herod with the Old Testament dynamic of Moses and the Pharaoh, who reputedly ordered the killing of the Israelite children in Egypt.

In Herod’s following years, factional strife broke out in his family over the succession. Not unusual for brutal dictators, Herod suspected those in his close circle of plotting against him, and responded violently. This included ordering the murder like two of his sons, Aristobolus including Antipater, in 7 and 4 BCE respectively, for conspiring plus their mother. How would Herod have reacted to rumors of a Christ chick born in his jurisdiction?
Based on what we know of Herod, the child would have been condemned to death before it was born, which is Matthew’s fundamental point. All things considered, the “Massacre of the Infants” most likely represents a gross exaggeration of the facts, rather than a wholesale fantasy.

The Magi

Whatever sources were used, Matthew’s genealogy regarding Jesus is intended to testify to a centuries-long process that made possible a womb against which a “Christ” or “Messiah” child could materialize – careless of how “Christ” or “Messiah” was understood. Unless the entirely genealogy was fabricated in hindsight, the list of names points to the existence of an unidentified clump that tracked this process. Presumably, anyone with knowledge of the upcoming “Christ” birth would ensure the parent was prepared accordingly. Curious, then, that Mary’s pregnancy is depicted since a total shock.

Then, out of the blue, the Magi come the plot. They do know something about the birth.

Having followed a “star” that led them to Herod’s Jerusalem, these Magi, or “wise men,” ask for the whereabouts of the newborn “king of the Jews” so that they could worship him, which is believable only if the Magi had a death wish. Equally implausible is Matthew’s claim that Herod had a private conversation with the Magi before letting them go visit the child unescorted.

It must be stressed that Matthew had no reason to invent the Magi because all other Magi references in the New Testament are pejorative, and the early Church associated Magi with the Gnostic heresy. Afterward who were the Magi? Because Matthew states that they came from the East, most speculation over their individuality centers on the notion that the Magi were Zoroastrian astrologers from Persia, but “the East” customarily refers to regions beyond Mesopotamia – India, Tibet, alternative China. And equal far as we know, star gazing was an obsession of all ancient peoples.

As the root of such concepts as “magic,” “magistrate,” and “majesty,” “Magi” is an ancient term with profound connotations. Non-canonical tradition alleges they were “kings,” which is not to be confused with nation-state monarchs in the standard usage – contrarily it would be easy to identify them. It is probably totally fair to say that the Magi-kings were highly respected members of a trans-national hamlet that maintained a Christ tradition.

According to Matthew’s genealogy, such a multi-national community periodically interfaced with an Israelite breed on behalf of the “Christ” mission, despite, and in contravention of, strict laws against sexual contact with Gentiles.

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

For most Bible commentators, the successful three “gifts” of the Magi are self-explanatory. Aurous is a expensive metal; frankincense connective myrrh are sweet smelling resins highly valued in the ancient world. With these items, therefore, the Magi paid tribute to the “royal” child. Cash would have been vulgar.

Is this what made them “wise?”

Ancient wisdom, specifically as it relates to herbs, metals, and the devious energy systems regarding the body, remains for the most part a mystery. Nonetheless, modern research has shown that frankincense and myrrh can be used to increase blood flow, and also to stimulate the pineal gland – “the seat about the soul” as far essentially the ancients were concerned. Structurally altered gold, taken in powdered form, was understood by Egyptians to induce short term changes in reality perception. Were these types about substances utilized by the Magi to facilitate the birth cook in some way? Hypothetically, in case the Magi knew how to temporarily raise the child’s DNA frequency to match or accommodate the incoming “Christ” consciousness, then that would have made them “wise.” If Matthew knew anything about that, he wasn’t saying.

The child of Mary and Joseph?

No explanation is given for Mary and Joseph’s presence in Bethlehem. The reader must assume they lived there. No information is released nearly their continuum spent in Egypt. The reciter need to deem it inconsequential.

It is highly questionable Mary’s child was born in Bethlehem, or that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were ever in Bethlehem, or in Egypt. Matthew calculatingly imposes Mary’s oneness over the Bethlehem woman who was the “Christ” child’s mother. Similarly, he transfers the Christ’s ancestry onto Mary’s child. Meanwhile, the genuine Christ mother was written exterior of, and Mary inserted into, the infancy narrative, along with a liberal sprinkling of Archaic Testament motifs.

What about the father of the Christ child? Like the mother, he was air-brushed from the record, but heterogeneous the mother, he was not replaced. Evidently, the mysterious Joseph was too well known to be received now the father of Mary’s child. But if Mary could be styled as the Christ’s mother, why couldn’t the paternalism of her child be the Christ’s father? Why must he remain incognito? Would his name pilot the whole house of cards crashing down?