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Herod's Obsession — Mt. 2.4

In the course of translating Matthew, I managed to take 241 study-notes. Some of these observations were insightful linguistically/factually, others were theologically noteworthy.

One relatively minor, though still insightful, example stems from Matthew 2.4. It reads:

“And having assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began inquiring (imperf.) of them: "Where is the anointed-one born (pres. pass.)?”

The imperfect tense conveys prolonged activity in the past. It may be either unbroken or continuously intermittent. Herod kept asking them about the Messiah's birth-place.

In this case, it reveals a persistent anxiety on Herod’s part, as to the arrival of the newborn Christ. Matthew portrays Herod as obsessed with destroying any perceived threat to his power (cf. vv. 13, 16).

Notably, not long after he slaughtered the children of Bethlehem (and about a week after murdering his eldest son—Josephus, Wars 1.33.7-8), Herod himself died (v. 19).

Some men grip earthly power too tightly, only to have it slip through their fingers; the Lord refused earthly power (Mt. 4.8-10; Jn. 6.15; 18.36), and yet wields authority over all the earth indelibly (Mt. 28.18; 1 Tim. 6.15; Phil. 2.9-11).

Hallowed be his name!


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