1 But now slash yourself, daughter surrounded by soldiers! We are besieged! With a scepter they strike Israel’s ruler on the side of his face. 2 (5:1) As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah—from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past. 3 So the Lord will hand the people of Israel over to their enemies until the time when the woman in labor gives birth. Then the rest of the king’s countrymen will return to be reunited with the people of Israel. 4 He will assume his post and shepherd the people by the Lord’s strength, by the sovereign authority of the Lord his God. They will live securely, for at that time he will be honored even in the distant regions of the earth.
4 After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod privately summoned the wise men and determined from them when the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well.”
Notes and References
"... The Jewish leaders and the narrator of the Matthean Jesus story share a profound knowledge of Scripture. When interrogated by King Herod, the Jewish leaders have no reason to hesitate. They know from Scripture what the readers know from the narrative: Bethlehem is the birthplace of the Messiah (cf. John 7.41-42). The combination of Micah 5.1 and 2 Samuel 5.2 betrays in its Matthean setting some peculiarities. As a matter of fact, one may ask whether in ancient cultures, people who were used to hear texts would take notice of subtle differences between a text and a verbal model or "master copy". One element, though, may have caught their attention: over against the Scripture reference, the Jewish leaders emphasize that Bethlehem is by no means the most insignificant among the rulers of Judah. The negation attracts attention and functions precisely as an open alternation. As the place of Jesus' birth, Bethlehem can hardly be considered "insignificant". This ironic reference achieves two effects: it uses Jesus to characterize Bethlehem (and not the other way round) and it makes the Jewish leaders the unknowing spokesmen for Matthean theology. The "blind guides", as the Matthean Jesus will later call the Jewish leaders (23.16), give credit to the Matthean Jesus on the basis of Scripture ..."
Mayordomo, Moisés "Matthew 1-2 and the Problem of Intertextuality" in Claire Clivaz, et al. (eds.), Infancy Gospels. Stories and Identities (pp. 275-276) Mohr Siebeck, 2011
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