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Verse 1 - "In the time of King Herod." This King Herod died in 4 BC.
- "Wise men from the East." They were astrologers, probably not kings.
Verse 2 - "Observed his star at its rising" probably refers to a comet. "At its rising" could also be translated as "at the place of the rising of the sun, i.e., the east." Celestial events such as this were understood to be omens of the future. That this comet is understood to be a sign of the birth of a "child who has been born King of the Jews" is particularly frightening to Herod since HE is King of the Jews and this unknown child is a threat to him and his heirs.
Verse 3 - "(King Herod) was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him." That is, this news is not just about a change of who will be King. "All Jerusalem," that is, all the elites in Jerusalem, are also frightened because of the social turmoil that such a change in the status quo would bring. The occupying Roman armies would expect that THEY would be the ones to install any new King, and would not likely accept without a war this new baby King.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce J. Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
+ Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Annotated New Testament, The Bible With and Without Jesus, Short Stories by Jesus, Entering the Passion of Jesus, and others.
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