Epiphany or 12th Night
ASIDE: Scripture tells us, rather the author of Luke tells us that Joseph resided in Nazareth before travelling with his fiancé to Bethlehem for the census,
The distance they walked was about 145 km or ninety miles which took them 4-5 days, with Mary within a week of giving birth. The same distance the kings would ride upon their arrival sometime later.
Firstly, something about the Author
Very likely, this Matthew is not Levi the disciple.
Matthew’s gospel is evidently written for a Jewish Christian audience living in the proximity of the homeland itself. Matthew is the most Jewish of all the gospels. The community for which Matthew was written was a community that was facing fresh hostilities in the period of reconstruction after the first revolt. They’ve been there for quite some time. They show an awareness of an older legacy of Jesus’ tradition, going back prior to the war. But now they’re experiencing new tensions and new problems in the aftermath of the revolt as political and social reconstruction are taking place.
Matthew is very familiar with the Old Testament, quite at home with it, so to speak. With a superfluity of Old Testament citations and about sixty clearly identifiable quotations interspersed throughout the Book. This is the one characteristic that makes Matthew stand out from the other Synoptics: His Fulfillment quotations, writing to a Jewish Christian Community Matthew is keen to reveal how the ancient Prophesies have come to refer to the coming of the Saviour, Jesus, and events surrounding his life. There are ten of these in this Gospel. It was Matthew’s habit to interrupt his narrative to insert a quotation from the Old Testament, introducing the quote with a formulary phrase such as, “This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled.” The fulfilment quotation serves to underscore that almost everything in Jesus’ life was prearranged by God and presaged in the Old Testament.
One of my young students said to the Group that she believed that the reason for the Old Testament was only to presage Jesus’ that all prophesies referred only to him. Not so, what Matthew had begun to do is just what later Christians continued to do – to Christianise the Old Testament.
From where came the kings and how far was it to Jerusalem
From Babylon and about 1,150km. In Ezra 7:9 we learn, Ezra’s entourage (probably included children and elderly people) took four months to travel from Babylon to Jerusalem
Therefore, Jesus must have been about 4 months old when they arrived and Herod, to make sure murdered the innocents aged two and under.
So! The Kings, we sing of three, however, there may have been any number at all, they came to the baby Jesus to fulfil or to confirm what appears to be, according to Matthew, three prophesies. I am counting to verse twelve which is where the Kings exit the Narrative – never to be heard from again.
a. [2:2] Nm 24:17. The kings report to Herod that they have seen the child’s birth star rise in the East and naturally since he was to be a king they went to the king to find out where the child was. From the Oracle of Balaam, we get I see him, though not now; I observe him, though not near: A star shall advance from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, That will crush the brows of Moab, and the skull of all the Sethites,…this prophecy continues with more bloodshed and to me, though there is mention of a star- it advances, or comes from Jacob yet is not from where the kings come. From my perspective, these are two different stars, an astrological one and an earthly descriptive of someone important or famous arriving.
Our second bracket sees dusty scrolls dragged out of cupboards and Bethlehem pronounced as the birthplace of the one who will shepherd Israel.
Salvation will come through a “messiah,” an anointed ruler. The Book of Micah shares with Isaiah the expectation that God will deliver Israel through a king in the line of David. Bethlehem-Ephrathah is the home of the Davidic line. Micah, CHAPTER 5 | USCCB
He said “But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathaha least among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.
Regarding the reference in Samuel, it refers to David because at Hebron David makes a covenant with them and is anointed, King. Are Matthew’s Community following his reasoning, they were Jews, and some of them with knowledge of the Scriptures did he not have to explain everything to them along the way. Dissuade them of the original intention of several of his quotes or citations!
c. [2:11] Ps 72:10–11, 15; Is 60:6.
Lastly verses 11 and 12: 11” and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
This is referred back to Psalm 72 – (A Psalm of Solomon and the Last in the Book of the Psalms of David) 10 May the kings of Tarshish and the islands bring tribute, the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. 11 May all kings bow before him; all nations serve him. 15 Long may he live, receiving gold from Sheba, prayed for without cease, blessed day by day.
The notes here say “Tarshish and the islands: the far west (Ps 48:6); Arabia and Seba: the far south (1 Kgs 10:1). [Queen of Sheba]”
” Lastly Isaiah produces Frankincense and Gold: 60: 6 Caravans of camels shall cover you, dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense and heralding the praises of the LORD.
* [72:18–19] A doxology marking the end of Book II of the Psalter.
Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel,
who alone does wonderful deeds.
19Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may he fill all the earth with his glory.
Amen and amen. 20 The end of the psalms of David, son of Jesse