Matthew 2:8 . When ye have found him, bring me word again Viz., concerning the young child, his condition, and that of his parents, and all circumstances. It seems probable that Herod did not believe he was born, otherwise it is amazing that so suspicious and artful a prince as he was should put this important affair on so precarious a footing. How easily might he, if he had not himself accompanied these learned strangers, under pretence of doing honour to them, have sent a guard of soldiers with them, who might, humanly speaking, without any difficulty have slaughtered the child and his parents on the spot. But, perhaps, he might be unwilling to commit such an act of cruelty in the presence of these sages, lest their report of it should render him infamous abroad. Or rather, we must refer his conduct, in this matter, to that secret influence with which God, whenever he pleases, can infatuate the most sagacious of mankind, and disappoint their designs. See Doddridge. That I may come and worship him also That I also, who would permit no interest of mine to interfere with the decrees of Heaven, may come with my family and court to pay homage to this new-born king; a duty to which I look upon myself as peculiarly obliged. Mark the hypocrisy of this perfidious tyrant! We may observe here, it is a peculiar excellence in the sacred writers, that they often describe a person’s character in one sentence, or even in one word, and that, by the by, when they are pursuing another object. An instance of this we have in Matthew 2:3, where the evangelist mentions Herod’s being troubled at the tidings brought by the wise men, an expression which exactly marked his character. Here again his disposition is perfectly developed; deep, crafty, subtle; pretending one thing but intending another; professing to have a design of worshipping Jesus, when his purpose was to murder him! In like manner having, according to Josephus, lib. 15. cap. 3, out of pretended friendship invited Aristobulus to an entertainment at Jericho, he contrived after dinner to have him drowned in a fish-pond, in which he was persuaded to bathe along with several of Herod’s attendants. For they, by Herod’s direction, as if in play and sport, dipped him so often, and kept him so long under water, that he died in their hands. And then, as if his death had been an unfortunate accident, which had happened without any previous design, Herod pretended great sorrow for it, shed abundance of tears, and bestowed upon his body a very splendid and expensive funeral.
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