My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of Matthew’s gospel. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.
Matthew chapter 2 continues to present Jesus as the one who fulfills Messianic (pertaining to the Christ) prophecies of the Old Testament. Prophecy and fulfillment are frequently incorporated into Matthew’s Gospel. This was especially important to Jewish readers, who needed to see that Christ is the Savior promised under the Old Covenant.
Astronomers, called magi, came from the east to worship the one who was born king of the Jews. It was no ordinary star that guided them. In the Old Testament, God soundly rebuked those who consulted the stars for guidance in life. Herod the Great was king of Judea from 37-4 B.C. Herod was an insecure and bloody ruler, having killed several family members who were viewed as threats to his throne. As an Idumean, Herod was upset to hear that a legitimate ruler of the Jews had been born. Scholars of the Law of Moses told him that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Herod decided to slay all the baby boys of that area, attempting to eliminate a challenger to his throne. The magi found baby Jesus and presented their valuable gifts, then returned home. An angel warned Joseph to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt for safety, until the death of Herod. Sadly, Herod did slay the boys of Bethlehem who were two years old and under. The language of Jeremiah 31:15 aptly describes the lamentation following the slaughter.