By Reverend David Whitney
January 1, 2017
While angels, shepherds, godly men and women in Jerusalem rejoiced at the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, there were those whose reactions were exactly opposite.
When the Magi came to Jerusalem and asked King Herod the whereabouts of the babe born King of the Jews he was not pleased to say the least.
Matthew 2:3 records, „When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.“
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Herod was notorious throughout the Roman Empire for his murderous response to anyone who might even vaguely threaten his tyrannical regime. He had killed his favorite wife for this reason, he also killed three of his own sons and countless others.
„The historians explained a recurring pattern in the life of Herod. He would hear a rumor that somebody was going to bump him off and take over his throne, but Herod would kill that person first. He would then go into depression. After awhile he would come out of his depression and would build, build, build. He would hear another rumor and would kill that person, then go into another depression. After awhile he would come out of this depression and would build, build, build. This cycle repeated itself a number of times in which numerous people were killed, including one of his ten wives as well as three of his sons! The shrinks diagnosed Herod the Great as a paranoid schizophrenic.“
Herod is the reason for the dark side of the Christmas account, the murder of the innocents in Bethlehem.
Matthew 2:16-18 „Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceed-ing wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.“
Some criticize this passage because writers of that day either did not record the event or because those who did, none of their writings were preserved. But the facts of Herod’s history would point to the reality that this act recorded in Matthew is consistent with the deeds of Herod.
„It is true; Josephus does not record the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. He does, how-ever, record a number of ruthless murders by Herod in order to keep his throne secure.