Matthew 2:21-22. And he arose Joseph obeyed the angel, and, it appears, would gladly have gone to Judea, probably to Bethlehem, because from his own knowledge of the prophecies, as well as from the decision of the scribes, an account of which he might have received from the magi, he fancied his son’s education in Bethlehem was as necessary to his being acknowledged the Messiah, as his birth, which had been so providentially ordered to happen there. Nevertheless, when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, he was afraid to go thither, knowing the jealous and cruel disposition of that prince. Archelaus was the sixth son of Herod, and the most cruel of all those that survived him. His father appointed him his successor, with regal authority, but Augustus gave him only the title of ethnarch, or ruler of the nation, annexing to his government Samaria and Idumæa. In the very beginning of his reign, he massacred 3,000 Jews at once in the temple, and was afterward, viz., in the tenth year of his government, banished by Augustus to Vienna in Gaul, on a complaint brought against him by the chief of the Jews, for his various cruelties. Joseph, therefore, might well be afraid to settle in a country that was under the government of such a cruel tyrant. Being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee which was under the government of Herod Antipas, (see note on Matthew 2:2,) a prince of a milder character than Archelaus, and then on such hostile terms with him, that there was no danger of his giving up Joseph and Mary into his power. Add to this, that, being intent upon building the cities of Julias and Tiberias, he endeavoured, by promises and immunities, as well as by a mild government, to allure strangers to come and settle there. We may observe here, that although Joseph’s near relation to Jesus exposed him to many difficulties and dangers, such as he had been a stranger to till it commenced, yet it made him ample amends for that inconvenience, by placing him and his under the peculiar care of a watchful Providence, ever attentive to his safety, and that of his little family; and by procuring him the favour of so many extraordinary visitations and supernatural discoveries of the divine will. This is no less than the fourth message sent him from the court of heaven since he became the husband of Mary!
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