MATTHEW IS the only one in the Gospels who mentions this heinous crime committed by Herod—the merciless slaughter of baby boys in Bethlehem and beyond. As the single biblical source of this account, many scholars discount or question whether or not these children were indeed killed. Even the famed historian Josephus was silent about these murders.
Sort of sounds like the abortion argument of today, doesn’t it? Conservatives report the facts—millions of babies are murdered each year under the legislative power of immoral leaders (and the people who vote them into position), but the church, by and large, remains; silent. So the biblical source on when life begins and whether or not it should be allowed to continue is discounted and questioned.
There are more comparisons to be made. Let’s start with Herod.
At the time of Christ’s birth, Herod was in the last years of his reign. As a foreigner who had taken Jerusalem by force, Herod was constantly jealous and paranoid of losing his kingdom to a younger, stronger rival. No one under his rule was above suspicion; he even considered his own family members a threat to his throne.
Bible scholar Charles Ellicott1)see URL https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Ellicott Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905) was a distinguished English Christian theologian, academic and churchman. He briefly served as Dean of Exeter, then Bishop of the united see of Gloucester and Bristol. explains: “The old king (the title had been given by the Roman Senate in BC 40) was drawing to the close of his long and blood-stained reign. Two years before, he had put to death, on a charge of treason, his two sons by Mariamne, his best-loved wife, through sheer jealousy of the favour with which the people looked on them. At the time when this history opens, his eldest son, Antipater, was under condemnation.”
Shocked that a king would kill off his own heirs, it was rumoured that Caesar Augustus joked, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than son”—an implication that Herod, being a Jew, would not kill a pig to eat, but he had no problem executing his sons.
The people of Jerusalem knew Herod’s history, how ruthless and unstable he was, which is why, when the wise men wanted to know the location of the King of the Jews, they too were troubled. “The news would excite Herod to fresh crimes,” Pulpit2)see URL https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulpit_Commentary The Pulpit Commentary is a homiletic commentary on the Bible created during the nineteenth century under the direction of Rev. Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones. It consists of 23 volumes with 22,000 pages and 95,000 entries, and was written over a 30-year period with 100 contributors.
Rev. Joseph S. Exell M.A. served as the editor of Clerical World, The Homiletical Quarterly and the Monthly Interpreter. Exell was also the editor for several other large commentary sets like The Men of the Bible, The Preacher’s Homiletic Library and The Biblical Illustrator. Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones was the Vicar and Rural Dean of St. Pancras, London and the principal of Gloucester Theological College. says. Still, why would an aged king fear the birth of a baby boy?
Matthew Henry3)see URL https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Henry Matthew Henry (18 October 1662 – 22 June 1714) was a nonconformist minister and author, born in Wales but spending much of his life in England. He is best known for the six-volume biblical commentary Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. offers this reason: “Though Herod was very old, and never had shown affection for his family, and was not himself likely to live till a newborn infant had grown up to manhood, he began to be troubled with the dread of a rival.”
“And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born” Matt. 2:4 ESV
Those chief priests and scribes knew very well how dangerous Herod could be, so you can bet they told him what he wanted to know right quick: “In Bethlehem of Judaea.”
They qualified their answer with prophecy: “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Matt. 2:5-6 ESV).
Herod didn’t ask the location of a certain child; he demanded to know where Christ should be born.
Jimmy Swaggart4)see URL http://www.jsm.org/, “The use of the title ‘Christ’ indicates that the priests informed him that the one he was speaking of was, in fact, the Messiah—‘the Anointed.’ They knew the location of where He was to be, but they had absolutely no knowledge of His arrival. That which the prophets had spoken of so grandly— the greatest event to date in the annals of history had recently taken place—and the religious leaders of Israel knew absolutely nothing about it. They had a head knowledge, so to speak, of the Word of God, but they did not know its Author.”
Likewise, I believe that the most learned (and wealthiest) advocates of abortion know full well the biblical truth: life begins at conception.
They have a head knowledge of how babies form in the wombs of their mothers, but they have no idea of God’s involvement.
If only they believed Psalm 139:16 ESV, which says, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”
Herod’s heart was wicked, but even he understood that the Messiah had been born. Unfortunately, the king’s faith remained in his own authority and power.
In his deranged mind, he believed that his commands to the wise men—“Go and search” and “Bring me word”—mixed with one subtle lie—“that I may come and worship Him also”—would result in the destruction of Jesus Christ. O, foolish king!
Herod didn’t want to just kill Christ, he wanted to destroy Him, and had he found Him, He would have done just that.
The evil in Herod’s heart is the same evil advocating for abortion.
Abortion doesn’t just kill babies, it destroys them.
Dr. Anthony Levatino, who performed more than 1,200 abortions earlier in his career, describes:
Herod’s evil plan surpassed his desire to destroy the physical body of the Christ Child. Bible scholars indicate that he wanted to dismember the Jewish nation and religion. I believe the abortion agenda has the same goal for America and Christianity.
The number of babies Herod killed is unknown. The Greek Liturgy says 14,000 baby boys while modern scholars, basing the event on the population of Bethlehem at that time, cut the number down to 20.
Such a small number of deaths, they rationalize, is one of possibly three reasons why Josephus didn’t write about it. The other two seem to be that Herod’s order was given in secret, so he didn’t know the massacre had happened; and that Josephus wouldn’t record anything that would confirm the truth of Christianity. These same reasons sound similar to the broadcasting approach of today’s mainstream media.
Notice how the Holy Spirit puts the blame squarely on Herod—Herod sent forth and slew. Although there is no description of this horrible massacre, we can imagine that the soldiers took out Herod’s excessive wrath on these baby boys, grabbing them from their mothers’ arms, and breaking bones and butchering bodies until the threat to his throne was dead. Image Above Right Footnote6)Memorial headstone to aborted children outside a church in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. © GETTY IMAGES
In a sermon about the deaths of these innocents, fifth-century Bishop Saint Quodvultdeus addressed Herod: “You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself … The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs.”7)“Saint Quodvultdeus“. CatholicSaints.Info. 28 January 2019. Web. 4 March 2019. https://catholicsaints.info/saint-quodvultdeus/
Only the Lord knows how many baby boys Herod killed, and that’s the point: He knows.
God knows why and how each baby died, most likely clinging to and crying for its mother. Are we so callous to think that He ignores the silent screams of the unborn who try so desperately to cling to their mothers before they are pulled apart? God most certainly hears them, and unless America repents, He will judge us for this national sin.
Mourning of this magnitude indicates a great loss of life—far more than 20 baby boys; most likely it was several hundred.
The guttural wails and weeping from brokenhearted parents could be heard for miles, from “a high place”—the Hebrew meaning for Rama. What mother, what father would ever be the same after losing a precious son to this type of slaughter?
Rama was also the gravesite of Rachel, considered the mother of the tribes of Israel.
She laments, weeps, and mourns— three stages of ongoing grief—for children lost due to Israel’s refusal to repent. Had Israel listened to the pleadings of the Holy Spirit through the prophet Jeremiah and repented, they would not have had an animal like Herod on the throne.
What will it take for America to repent and stop the sin of aborting its children and future citizens? Where is the weeping for these precious unborn souls— lamenting and mourning so loud that it should be heard in the highest places of our government?
Josephus did not record Herod’s murderous attempt on Christ, but he did write in graphic detail how the king died:
“Herod’s distemper greatly increased upon him after a severe manner, and this by God’s judgment upon him for his sins; for a fire glowed in him slowly, which … augmented his pains inwardly…. His entrails were also exulcerated, and the chief violence of his pain lay on his colon; an aqueous and transparent liquor also had settled itself about his feet, and a like matter afflicted him at the bottom of his belly. Nay, further, his privy-member was putrefied, and produced worms; and when he sat upright, he had a difficulty of breathing, which was very loathsome, on account of the stench of his breath; he had also convulsions in all parts of his body.”8)Antiquities of the Jews – Book XVII Book 17 Chpt 6 vs 5 http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-17.htm ALSO Antonio Piñero, “Herod I: The Controversial King Who Transformed the Holy Land,” National Geographic, December 2016. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/archaeology-and-history/magazine/2016/11-12/king-herod-judaea-holy-land-rome-new-testament/
Our nation9)America, I believe, is beginning to show similar symptoms.
There’s a fire glowing slowly in certain states—infanticide— and if we think that America will escape God’s judgment for murdering unborn (and now born) children, then we are just as deranged and foolish as Herod was.
America has repeated Herod’s sin of killing babies; I pray that we turn, repent, and weep lest we suffer his same end: “for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.”
by Frances Swaggart.
(This article was originally printed in The Evangelist May 2019.)
(The Expositor’s Study Bible)[KJV/ESB]. iPad & iPhone & Hard Copy: by Jimmy Swaggart.
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