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Then Herod, when he saw that he had been made a fool of by the magi, became greatly enraged, and having sent orders, he killed all the male children that were in Bethlehem and all its surrounding region, from two years old and under, according to the timing that he had found out from the magi.

“Made a fool of.” From empaizō (#1702 ἐμπαίζω), “To trick someone so as to make a fool of the person” (BDAG); Lenski. It was more than just being “tricked” by the Magi. Herod reigned by fear and control, so having someone disobey a direct command, from his perspective, was to make a mockery of his reign. He would have expected the Magi back the next day, two at the most. He felt they made a fool of him by slipping away, and was furious.

“killed.” This was standard operating procedure for Herod. His reign was so filled with violent acts that this particular killing is not even noticed in the secular histories. [For more on Herod’s character and ruthless ways, see commentary on Matt. 2:3, “deeply disturbed”].


Commentary for: Matthew 2:16