Murder of the Innocents (Repost – 2013)

Small Passion: 16. Christ before Herod
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Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A cry was heard in Ramah– weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.” (Mat 2:16-18 NLT)

The Murder of the Innocents is a seriously debated account found only Matthew’s Gospel. Recently, the National Geographic has come out with a theory that Herod did not commit these crimes as recorded in the Gospel. There is a simple explanation for the exclusion from history.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia,

The Catholic Encyclopedia in 1910 argued that the Matthew Gospel account “is not contradicted by the mere silence of Josephus; for the latter follows Nicholas of Damascus, to whom, as a courtier, Herod was a hero.” It also cited an 1897 book by A. J. Maas: “Cruel as the slaughter may appear to us, it disappears among the cruelties of Herod. It cannot, then, surprise us that history does not speak of it”.

Calvin’s rationale,

Josephus makes no mention of this history. The only writer who mentions it is Macrobius, in the Second Book of his Saturnalia, where, relating the jokes and taunts of Augustus, he says: When he heard that, by Herod’s command, the children in Syria under two years of age had been slain, and that his own son had been slain among the crowd, “I would rather,” said he, “have been Herod’s hog than his son.” But the authority of Matthew alone is abundantly sufficient for us. Josephus certainly ought not to have passed over a crime so worthy of being put on record. But there is the less reason to wonder that he says nothing about the infants; for he passes lightly over, and expresses in obscure language, an instance of Herod’s cruelty not less shocking, which took place about the same time, when he put to death all the Judges, who were called the Sanhedrin, that hardly a remnant might remain of the stock of David. It was the same dread, I have no doubt, that impelled him to both of these murders.

Finally, from the College Press NT commentary, which I believe actually helps in understanding how this even could have been passed over.

While the historicity of this event has been disputed by some, R.T. France has provided compelling evidence giving credibility to the Matthean account. Not only is the slaughter of the infants consistent with what is known about Herod, population estimates in and around Bethlehem, coupled with probable birth and infant mortality rates, have led to estimates of around twenty infants being slain by Herod. While not diminishing the tragedy of the situation, such a crime in the light of Herod’s other atrocities may very well have gone unnoticed by contemporary historical sources.

It was indeed a slaughter of the innocents, but it could very have been but a few children, perhaps as the commentary above, nor more than 20. This could easily have been buried in the heaps of historical events that surround Herod and indeed, could have escaped unnoticed since it was such a small number, albeit every murder is important.

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Discussion: Lynch Pins of the Old Testament

Biblical Minimalism, as I understand it, essentially denies the historical value of the Old Testament. I’ve been thinking – not always a good thing – but what if the biblical minimalists are right on some level? (I do not hold their views) Is there a stopping point to biblical minimalism.

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National Geographic Hates the Bible – King Herod innocent of the Innocents

Eight miles south of Jerusalem, where the last stunted olive trees and stony cornfields fade into the naked badlands of the Judaean desert, a hill rises abruptly, a steep cone sliced off at the top like a small volcano. This is Herodium, one of the grand architectural creations of Herod the Great, King of Judaea, who raised a low knoll into a towering memorial of snowy stonework and surrounded it with pleasure palaces, splashing pools, and terraced gardens. An astute and generous ruler, a brilliant general, and one of the most imaginative and energetic builders of the ancient world, Herod guided his kingdom to new prosperity and power. Yet today he is best known as the sly and murderous monarch of Matthew’s Gospel, who slaughtered every male infant in Bethlehem in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the newborn Jesus, the prophesied King of the Jews. During the Middle Ages he became an image of the Antichrist: Illuminated manuscripts and Gothic gargoyles show him tearing his beard in mad fury and brandishing his sword at the luckless infants, with Satan whispering in his ear. Herod is almost certainly innocent of this crime, of which there is no report apart from Matthew’s account. But children he certainly slew, including three of his own sons, along with his wife, his mother-in-law, and numerous other members of his court. Throughout his life, he blended creativity and cruelty, harmony and chaos, in ways that challenge the modern imagination.

That’s right, Herod is a misunderstood monarch, a kindly ole soul really, much like Santa Claus. Every holiday season – whether you believe that this is an actual holiday or not – National Geographic and other institutes of higher learner, such as the Discovery Channel, barrage us with anti-biblical accounts and understanding. I am waiting the big one – detailing that there never was a certain Jesus. This one portrays Herod as somewhat misunderstood and wrongfully attacked by the Jews and Christians.

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Holy Moses! PBS documentary suggests Exodus not real

Holy Moses! PBS documentary suggests Exodus not real — OrlandoSentinel.com.

Notice what Nova producer Apsell says,

“I was always brought up to believe that the minute Abraham and the patriarchs came on the scene, the Israelites accepted one God and there was just always one God and that was it,”

Meaning that she was brought up with little or no biblical instruction. Although Abraham was a monotheist, Israel flirted with polytheism for centuries and had to constantly be called back into the worship of the True God. So, I guess any ‘facts’ might actually shock her.

In attacking Abraham, they go beyond Christ or Mohammad; they seek to destroy the very foundation of all the monotheistic Abrahamic faiths. Granted, I do not see an legitimacy in Islam, but in undermining Abraham, they are attempting to kill off all three religions.

Abraham is the single person that must exist for Judaim to be trure. If Judaism is not a true faith (let’s skip supercessionism at the moment), then Christianity is a hoax and a sham. Speaking out side of of Faith for a moment, if Abraham is proved to be a myth, then the great call to leave a homeland for a promise of a redeemer is false. If the call is false, then the children of Israel as slaves in Egypt were little more than vagabonds and a colony of escaped convicts. If these people were not chosen by God to recieve the promises of Abraham, then the Law is a man-made priestly code derived by imaginations. If the Law is thus stripped it’s divine origin, then we have no school master and no real need for an atoning sacrifice. If there is no need for an atoning sacrifice, then their is no need for a Messiah. No, Messiah, no Cross, and no Christianity.