“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” (Matthew 2:16 (ESV)
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” This proverb is adapted from a line in the play The Mourning Bride, by William Congreve, an English author of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The quotation means that no one is angrier than a woman who has been rejected in love.
A parallel proverb could well be “Hell hath no fury like a king who is tricked.” Proverbs 19:12 says, “A king’s wrath is like the growling of a lion.”
When King Herod discovered and discerned that the Magi would not return to Jerusalem to inform him of Jesus’ whereabouts, he became furious. The word furious (λίαν; lian) means exceedingly or intensely angry. To say that Herod was upset is an understatement.
Herod’s response is in keeping with his personality. He decided to kill all the male children in Bethlehem and in the surrounding region. The text tells us that the parameter would be boys two years old or under. Why did Herod make this stipulation? It was because of the time he had ascertained or discovered from the Magi. This indicates to us that Jesus could have been as old as two or younger when the Magi visited him.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “This slaughter of the male children is mentioned only here in the biblical record. Even the Jewish historian Josephus (a.d. 37-100) did not mention this dastardly deed of putting to death innocent babies and young children. But it is not surprising that he and other secular historians overlooked the death of a few Hebrew children in an insignificant village, for Herod’s infamous crimes were many. He put to death several of his own children and some of his wives whom he thought were plotting against him. Emperor Augustus reportedly said it was better to be Herod’s sow than his son, for his sow had a better chance of surviving in a Jewish community. In the Greek language, as in English, there is only one letter difference between the words “sow” (huos) and “son” (huios).”
Even in His infancy, hatred of Jesus Christ was a common occurrence. Beginning with Herod, and continuing to the present day, Jesus’ words from John 15:18-21 which says, 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me” (John 15:18–21).
I do not like the idea, or circumstances, of people hating me for my faith in Christ. However, the Bible tells me to expect it because their hatred for me is because a deeper hatred for the Lord Jesus. Have you encountered such hatred in your own life? Pray that God will give you the strength to be faithful.
Soli deo Gloria!