Numbers 24:17

Hebrew Bible

15 Then he uttered this oracle: “The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eyes are open, 16 the oracle of the one who hears the words of God, and who knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, although falling flat on the ground with eyes open: 17 ‘I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not close at hand. A star will march forth out of Jacob, and a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the skulls of Moab, and the heads of all the sons of Sheth. 18 Edom will be a possession, Seir, his enemy, will also be a possession; but Israel will act valiantly. 19 A ruler will be established from Jacob; he will destroy the remains of the city.’”

Matthew 2:2

New Testament

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem 2 saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. 3 When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

 Notes and References

"... The "star of Bethlehem" has attracted many admirers not only astrological but also textual ones. Many exegetes entertain the possibility of an allusion to Num 24.17.72 To be sure, the connections on a verbal level are rather low. On a structural level, some narrative similarities spring to the mind: the Gentile prophet Balaam blesses Israel, foretells a mighty ruler and interferes with a wicked king. Somewhat similarly, the Gentile magi come to adore the child and interfere with king Herod. Traces of an early Jewish messianic interpretation of Num 24.17 may corroborate the plausibility of an intertextual link between both texts. Obviously Num 24.17 was not only available both to author and readers, it can also be connected in meaningful ways with the Matthean narrative context. On the other hand, the narrator does not care to mark his allusion, the volume of verbal correspondence is rather low (basically: the "star") and the book of Numbers is not explicitly quoted in Matthew's Gospel. There are some structural similarities but it seems rather implausible that the Balaam episode serves as the model for the structure of the Matthean narrative ..."

Mayordomo, Moisés "Matthew 1-2 and the Problem of Intertextuality" in Claire Clivaz, et al. (eds.), Infancy Gospels. Stories and Identities (pp. 274-275) Mohr Siebeck, 2011

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