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March 28, 2014 / attilashrugs

The Three Prophecies of Matthew 2

A Non-Messianic Jew cites Matthew 2: 14-15. He may point out the foolishness of Matthew for confusing the individual Yeshua with the entire nation Israel.

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother and left during the night for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until Herod died. This happened in order to fulfill what Adonai had said through the prophet,” Out of Egypt I called my son.
In this case it is HOSEA 11:1

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.
His argument is that clearly Hosea is alluding to the people, Israel. Further, it is erroneous to imply that this Prophetic verse is relevant to Joseph removing Yeshua to Egypt, in order to save Him from the mortal threat posed by King Herod.   But is this so obviously the case?

In Matthew 2 there are two other references to the Prophets, which are applied to Yeshua’s childhood.  Perhaps by looking at all three as a unit, a less risible interpretation is possible.

In Matthew 2, there are three citations to the Prophets.

1. Verse 3 When King Herod heard of this he became very agitated, and so did everyone else in Yerushalayim. 4 He called together all the head cohanim and Torah-teachers of the people and asked them, “Where will the Messiah be born?” 5 “In Beit-Lechem of Y’hudah,” they replied, “Because the prophet wrote,

6 ‘and you, Beit-Lechem in the land of Y’hudah,

are by no means the least among the rulers of Y’hudah;

for from you will come a Ruler

who will shepherd my people Isra’el.”
This refers to MICAH 5:1 But thou, Beit-Lechem Ephrata, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from ancient days.

 

2. Matt 2:14 (our original verse) “So he got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until Herod died. This happened in order to fulfill what Adonai had said through the prophet,

“Out of Egypt I called my son.

This refers to HOSEA 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.

 

3. Matt. 2:16 Meanwhile, when Herod realized that the Magi had tricked him, he was furious and gave orders to kill all the boys in and around Beit-Lechem who were two years old or less, calculating from the time the Magi had told him. 17 In this way were fulfilled the words spoken through the prophet Yirmeyahu,

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,

sobbing and lamenting loudly.

It was Rachel sobbing for her children

and refusing to be comforted,

because they are no longer alive.”

This refers to JER. 34:15 Thus saith HaShem: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuseth to be comforted for her children, because they are not.

16Thus saith HaShem: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith HaShem; and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

17 And there is hope for thy future, saith HaShem; and thy children shall return to their own border.

 

Looking at all three together it becomes arguable that in fact Matthew was not engaged in “name-dropping”.  A case can be made that together the three references all point to a certain viewpoint.

The first prophecy regards the significance of the fact of Yeshua’s birth in Bethlehem. , Micah5:1 out of thee shall one come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from ancient days.
So, the first prophetic citation is to establish a basis for considering Yeshua as that promised ruler.  Of whom is Yeshua to be king?  Though He is to be born in Bethlehem, one amongst the thousands of Judah, it is over Israel that He is to be king. Tanakh knows how to say “King of Judah” if it wished.  But, no it is the throne of Israel upon which He shall sit.

The second prophecy cited is regarding His going down to Egypt. Matthew’s claim that Yeshua’s sojourn in Egypt was prophesied by Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son” is a stretch. The easy answer is that just as the lives of the Patriarchs are said to foreshadow the history of Israel, so too the life of Yeshua parallels Israel, perhaps even its future.
But the easy answer is just too pat, too glib.  Looking deeper we recall the artificial nature of the chapters and verses of Tanakh.  Let us look back from chapter eleven of Hosea to ten.  Hosea 10 is a very brief summary of the history of Israel.  From its initiation as 10:1

Israel was a luxuriant vine, which put forth fruit freely: as his fruit increased, he increased his altars; the more goodly his land was, the more goodly were his pillars.

To the indictment of 10:2 Their heart is divided; now shall they bear their guilt; He will break down their altars, He will spoil their pillars.

3 Surely now shall they say: ‘We have no king; for we feared not HaShem; and the king, what can he do for us?’ Israel’s history, judgment and execution are outlined.

But within the common destiny of Israel two subsets are described. Hosea 10:10-11 When it is My desire, I will chastise them; and the peoples shall be gathered against them, when they are yoked to their two rings.

11And Ephraim is a heifer well broken, that loveth to thresh, and I have passed over upon her fair neck; I will make Ephraim to ride, Judah shall plow, Jacob shall break his clods.

 

Finally, in the context of the punishments handed down the last verse in Hosea 10, the line immediately preceding 11:1 is
So hath Beth-el done unto you because of your great wickedness; at daybreak is the king of Israel utterly cut off.

The King of Israel (is) utterly cut off! Is this not word for word from Daniel?  Daniel 9:22-27

And he made me to understand, and talked with me, and said: ‘O Daniel, I am now come forth to make thee skilful of understanding.

At the beginning of thy supplications a word went forth, and I am come to declare it; for thou art greatly beloved; therefore look into the word, and understand the vision.

Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place.

Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed, a prince, shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times.

And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed one be cut off, and be no more; and the people of a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; but his end shall be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and upon the wing of detestable things shall be that which causeth appalment; and that until the extermination wholly determined be poured out upon that which causeth appalment.’

By citing Hosea 11 in association with Yeshua’s sojourn and return from Egypt, Matthew brings reference to Israel’s blessing, her disobedience, her indictment and her punishment. In addition an association is made with a cutting off of a King.  And there is recognition that there are two separate sets within the rubric “Israel”, namely Ephraim and Judah.  In the context of the first of the three prophecies, this second adds the description of Yeshua to be that king, born of Judah, who shall be utterly cut-off as part of Israel’s punishment yet is to rule Israel (Ephraim).
Finally the third prophecy cited by Matthew in the second chapter is meant to connect Herod’s massacre of the innocents with Jeremiah 34.
Thus saith HaShem: 13 A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuseth to be comforted for her children, because they are not.

16Thus saith HaShem: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith HaShem; and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

17 And there is hope for thy future, saith HaShem; and thy children shall return to their own border.

There are several traditional explanations and Midrashes about this verse.  All of them pertain to either the Babylonian or Roman exiles.  As one who looks to the very exact genealogy   given in Torah as meaningful, the detail of this being Rachel, and not Leah catches my eye.  Rachel is the mother of Joseph and died in delivering Benjamin.  Given Rachel’s and Joseph’s treatment at the hands of Leah and her sons, one would wonder why the Jewish People would believe she would be mourning over their exiles?  “and thy children shall return to their own border”?  Rachel’s children would be Ephraim (and Manasseh) and not Judah!
So the final prophetic piece in Matthew 2 further describes the role of Yeshua.  The three prophecies applied to Yeshua define Him as being born in Bethlehem as a son of Judah who will be cut-off utterly for the sins of Israel, and though a Judean will rule Joseph.  And in the latter days will be the One leading Joseph home.

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