Mat 2:13-15: By what means did the Lord warn and direct Joseph? See Mat 2:13, and cf. Mat 2:12,19,22. Are we attentive to our dreams if perchance God should speak to us in them? How long does it appear that Joseph waited before giving heed to the warning in his dream and departing for Egypt? See Mat 2:14. What does this teach us about the character and nature of the man whom God had ordained to be a father to His Son? Are we as quick to obey the Lord and give heed to His warnings? Is it significant that as the infant nation of Israel was led into Egypt so was the infant Jesus? See Mat 2:15 and Hos 11:1 that Matthew is quoting. In what other ways was the entire nation of Israel typical of its despised Servant, her Messiah and redeemer? See Isa 41:8-14, 42:1-7, 49:1-16, 52:13-53:12. Note: a Jewish tradition recorded in the Talmud to explain Jesus’ miracles says that He “brought with Him magic arts out of Egypt in an incision on his body”; what insight does this give us into what Matthew’s purpose might have been in these verses?
Mat 2:16-18: In what way was the word of the angel in Joseph’s dream (Mat 2:13) fulfilled? How many children might have been put to death by Herod in his rage? Note: Bethlehem was a small village and the number of infants killed was likely not large, perhaps 15 to 20, a “small item in Herod’s chamber of horrors” (Robertson). Contrast the reception of Jesus by the Gentile Magi and Herod who considered himself the king of the Jews (but in fact was an Idumean and not a true Jew). In what way did this foreshadow the gospel’s reception as it went forth to both Gentile and Jews? Cf. Rom 2:26-29. What does Mat 2:16 indicate about how old the infant Jesus would have been at this time, and where Mary and Joseph were residing? See also Mat 2:11,22. What did Jeremiah’s prophecy that Matthew quotes in Mat 2:18 originally refer to? See Jer 31:15, 40:1. What is significant about Rachel in these two contexts? See Gen 35:16-20, 1Sa 10:2 and observe that Bethlehem (Ephrath) is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem and Ramah is on the way from Bethel about 5 miles north of Jerusalem, in the vicinity of where Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. What hope of the gospel is found in the context of Jeremiah’s prophecy that Matthew quotes here? See Jer 31:16-17,31-34. What does Matthew’s use of Jeremiah 31:15 teach us about the nature of Biblical prophecy: is it always predictive (as in Mat 2:4-6), or is it sometimes more of a “signpost” of God’s sovereign control of history?
Mat 2:19-23: Although God may in times of danger provide a safe-haven for His children in the Egypt of the world, does he allow them to remain there? How long might Jesus and his parents have been in Egypt? Note: Archelaus reigned 10 years from 4 B.C. to 6 a.d. Why was Joseph afraid to return to Judea, where he had evidently hoped to settle? Note: Archelaus was a cruel tyrant like his father, and was eventually deposed and banished to Gaul by Caesar Augustus for his crimes, including having put to death over 3000 people in Jerusalem and the temple during one of the Passovers (Barnes). What would have caused him to consider Nazareth in Galilee instead? See Luk 1:26-27. Nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures are the exact words “He shall be called a Nazarene” found; what then does Matthew mean by this statement? Is it significant that here he speaks of that which was spoken through the prophets, plural, whereas in all other instances when speaking of fulfilled prophecy he refers to the specific prophet, singular, that he is quoting (see for example Mat 2:5,15,17 and 1:22)? See John 1:45-46, Psa 22:6, 69:7-9, Isa 49:7, 53:3, Luk 18:31-33; see also the Messianic passage Isa 11:1 where the Hebrew word for branch (netzer) has the same consonantal sounds as Nazareth (NZR). What is the significance of Mat 2:23 to Matthew’s readers in light of the large number of Jews at that time who were rejecting the gospel of the despised Nazarene and His followers? Consider that Joseph’s inclination seems to have been to settle in Judea which was probably his home; what do Mat 2:22-23 teach us about God’s sovereignty in the midst of our life choices?