When I was a kid I asked my Sunday School teacher why did Herod kill all the children two years old and younger? If Jesus was a newborn, why didn’t he just kill newborns. I don’t remember her answer but I it must not have made sense to my young mind. I was persistent enough for an answer I could understand that it got me expelled from my class for being disruptive. I was keeping her from teaching her planned lesson.
That question remained until I research it for my self. Here is what I understand to be the reason he killed children as old as 2 years old.
If we think of this logically, whether they were coming from the Orient or Africa it took time to get to Jerusalem traveling by camel in a caravan. We don’t know how long they were in Jerusalem but it is conceivable that they did not see Herod on immediate arrival. After traveling a great distance it is likely they wanted to make themselves presentable, freshen up as it were, before they even went to request an audience. Then Herod had to grant it. Next Herod had to call the priests and scribes to get the information to give the wise men. The priests and scribes were sent away so he could ask the wise men in secret when they first saw the star. Then the wise men had to travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. That journey was 4.4 miles which took less than a day by camel caravan. Now we can speculate that it only took a few days for all of this. We can also speculate that they saw the star sooner than the birth night. But here is the clincher. In verse 16, we learn clearly that Herod made his decision to slay males 2 years old and under based on information gathered from the wise men. If it was the same night he was born that they left Jerusalem, why kill 2 year old males? Why not newborns? I believe they were not there on the night of his birth. Others have stated the same. I asked them why continue to promote the idea that they were present if we can see they weren’t. Tradition was their answer.
Tradition versus Truth: which is more important?
- Yehoshuwa (Jesus) was born during the reign of Herod the Great Matt 2:1
- The wise men or magi saw the star in the east. (Were they in the east or the star east of them? Matt 2:1
- The wise men went to Jerusalem to Herod to get the location of the child. Matt 2:2 Why didn’t they follow the star to Bethlehem? Apparently the star was not visible to them the entire trip. It made sense to go to the capital as it were to find the king. Could they have thought the child was the heir to the throne from the present king? Possibly.
- Herod sent for his priests to determine where the child would be born. Matt 2:4-6 Why didn’t he know? Hadn’t at least heard the prophecy regarding the Messiah?
- He asked the magi when the star appeared. This gave Herod the first clue to when the child was born. Matt 2:7
- He sent them to Bethlehem based on the prophecy and instructed them to return to him with the exact location. Matt 2:8
- The star reappeared to guide them to Yehoshuwa’s location Matt 2:9
- The wise men entered the house where the young child and his mother were. Matt 2:11 House not stable.
- The wise men did not return to Herod and this angered him He gave orders to kill every child in Bethlehem, 2 years old and under, based on the time given to him by the wise men. Matt 2:16
Matthew 2:16 (NKJV)
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.