Matthew 2:16-18

Why was Herod angry?

Why did Herod want to kill the male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem?

What did Matthew mean by the wording, “according to the time which he had determined from the magi”?

The population of Bethlehem at this time is numbered at about 300 people in total. If the age distribution for that area of Judea resembled the typical age distribution of a community in the United States in the year 2000, then the male children aged 4 years and under would be about 3.5% of the total population.

Performing a simple calculation of 3.5% x 300 = 10.5 children indicates that the total number of male children likely murdered to satisfy Herod’s paranoia would have been under 20 children. Byzantine liturgy places the number at about 14,000 and Syrian traditions puts the number at 64,000. These are more than grossly exaggerated and more along a line of fantastical. Especially given the population of Judea at this time was about 500,000-600,000 people.

What scripture from Jeremiah is Matthew quoting in Verse 18?

Who is the Rachel Jeremiah/Matthew is speaking of?

Why is Rachel weeping for her children?

Who was Rachel’s children?

Why were Rachel’s children no more?

Where was Ramah?

What was Rachel’s relationship to Ramah?

The verse from Jeremiah seems very depressing. Is all of Jeremiah 31 a sad text?

What does the Lord promise Rachel concerning her children?

What is the expectation for the children of Rachel in order to be rewarded as described in Verse 16 of Chapter 31?

How is Matthew relating the mourning of Rachel to the situation involving Herod and the killing of the children in the Bethlehem area?

To answer the last question, remember why Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem (census). Judah was the son of Israel through which the lineage of Abraham came to Jesus on Joseph’s side. Judah, where Bethlehem is located, was born of Leah, not Rachel. But, the context of Jeremiah is the scattering of the decedents of Jacob and the repentance to the Messiah. If all the male descendants of Judah from Bethlehem in the day of Herod is in the vicinity of Bethlehem and are killed based on the likely age of the “new born king” according to the magi, then what becomes of the lineage of Abraham as given by Matthew in Chapter 1? Rachel mourns because there is no children to represent the lineage of her husband if the children are truly ended, but the Lord reassures her this is not the case. So not only is there reason for mourning because of the perceptions of failed prophecies but Matthew is also saying the Lord will preserve the repentant if they will turn to Him and His appointed Redeemer for salvation.