Archelaus

Herod Archelaus

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Archelaus Herod
MATTHEW CHAPTER 2 COMMENTARY

Matthew 2:22-23 Archelaus

MATTHEW 2:22  22 But having heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being divinely warned in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.

Who was “Archelaus” (Matthew 2:22)?
Herod Archelaus was the older brother of Herod Antipas, and both were sons born to King Herod and Malthace, a Samaritan woman who was one of his ten wives. Four days before his death in 4 BC, King Herod changed his will to make Archelaus his heir instead of Antipas. After he died, Archelaus, Antipas and their half-brother Philip traveled to Rome and argued over their dead father’s will before Caesar Augustus, who divided Herod’s kingdom among them and gave Archelaus about half of it, comprised of Samaria, Judea and Idumea, which is the non-Jewish region just south of Judea (Antipas received Galilee and Perea, which runs along the Jordan River on its east side from about half way between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea to about half way down the Dead Sea, and Philip received Iturea and Trachonitis, both of which lie northeast of Galilee). Augustus withheld the title “King” from Archelaus and instead named him “Ethnarch,” which means “Ruler of an Ethnic Group”; promotion to “King” would follow if Archelaus, then just 18 years old, proved himself an able ruler. Archelaus didn’t, so in 6 AD, Augustus removed him from power, turned his territory into the Roman province of Judaea to be under direct Roman rule, and banished Archelaus to Gaul (France today), where he died in 18 AD.

Why was Joseph “afraid to go” where “Archelaus was reigning” (Matthew 2:22)?
Soon after King Herod died in 4 BC, Archelaus lost control of a crowd of Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover. When they stoned some of those whom he had sent to calm them, Archelaus sent in his entire mercenary army, which massacred 3,000 Jews in and around the temple. And when a delegation of Jews went to Rome and petitioned Caesar Augustus that they wanted someone other than Archelaus to rule over them, Archelaus hunted down and killed the members of that delegation and their families. Joseph would have heard about these and other atrocities of Archelaus, and was right to fear the possibility of a man like him hearing that the boy born to be the King of the Jews, whom his father had unsuccessfully tried to kill, was back in town. Joseph also was “divinely warned.” (Matthew 2:22)

Which province does Joseph appear to have considered their home?
Since Joseph was “afraid to go” to and “turned aside” (Matthew 2:22) from Judea, they appear to have considered it, and perhaps Bethlehem their hometown, when they returned to Israel from Egypt.

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