“They told Herod.
It has been written
By the prophet.’
In the land of Judah,
Are by no means least
Among the rulers of Judah.
Shall come a ruler
Who is to shepherd
My people Israel.’”
οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· Ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας· οὕτως γὰρ γέγραπται διὰ τοῦ προφήτου·
Καὶ σύ, Βηθλέεμ γῆ Ἰούδα, οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα· ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ ἐξελεύσεται ἡγούμενος, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ τὸν λαόν μου τὸν Ἰσραήλ.
Interesting enough the response from the Jerusalem Sanhedrin was a quote from the prophet Micah, chapter 5:2. These priests and scribes told Herod (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ) that the place for the birth of this new king had to be Bethlehem in Judea (Ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας). The prophet Micah, without mentioning him by name, had written about this (οὕτως γὰρ γέγραπται διὰ τοῦ προφήτου). The quote from Micah is a paraphrase of Micah, as there was no mention of Ephrathah here. Micah had uttered this ode about the small town of Bethlehem, where King David came from also. Thus, this new ruler of Israel would be from this same place or part of the Davidic bloodline, as Matthew has pointed out. Bethlehem was in the land of Judah (Βηθλέεμ γῆ Ἰούδα), not far from Jerusalem, about 6 miles. Bethlehem was not the least among the various clans of Judah (οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα). The new leader or ruler would shepherd or lead (ἐξελεύσεται ἡγούμενος, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ) the Lord’s people of Israel (τὸν λαόν μου τὸν Ἰσραήλ). Matthew with this citation, made the clear connection between, David, Bethlehem, and Jesus.
O Bethlehem of Ephrathah!
You are one of the little clans
Shall come forth
One who is
To rule in Israel.
His origin is from of old,
From ancient days.”
This is a very complicated passage that was used by the New Testament gospels of Matthew, chapter 2, and John, chapter 7, as a prediction of where the Messiah would be born. Micah directed this ode directly to Bethlehem, a town about 6 miles south of Jerusalem. The ancient name was apparently Ephrathah, similar to the name of the territory of Ephraim, but a small clan of people. King David was from this small town of Bethlehem. Thus, this new ruler of Israel would be from this same place or part of the Davidic bloodline. There is confusion about the little phrase “from me.” Was this new ruler to be from God or Bethlehem? Would he be like the ancient good old days of David?
“We heard of the Ark in Ephrathah.
We found it in the fields of Jaar.
‘Let us go to his dwelling place.
Let us worship at his footstool!’”
David had heard of the Ark of the Covenant while he was in Ephrathah, which was Bethlehem, the home of David. However, the Ark was in Jaar, Kiriath-jearim. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant in 1 Samuel, chapters 6-7. David wanted to go there and worship at the foot of the Ark of the Covenant.
“Reaiah son of Shobal became the father of Jahath. Jahath became the father of Ahumai and Lahad. These were the families of the Zorathites. These were the sons of Etam, Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash. The name of their sister was Hazzelelponi. Penuel was the father of Gedor. Ezer was the father of Hushah. These were the sons of Hur, the first-born of Ephrathah, the father of Bethlehem.”
Hur was the grandson of Hezron, via Caleb and Ephrath, although he is listed as a son of Judah in the preceding paragraph. Thus his family will become known as the Ephrathites, the area around Bethlehem. The original name of this ancient town may have been Ephrath. Shobal, son of Hur, had other sons as in chapter 2, but here the emphasis in on Reaiah, whose name refers to 2 different people. His son was called Jahath, a name that refers to 5 different people. Jahath had 2 sons Ahumai and Lahad, whose names only appear here. They became known as the Zorathites, a group that was mentioned in chapter 2. Etam was a town in Judah as was Jezreel. Perhaps they were named after the sons of Hur. This is the only mention of Ishma, Idbash, and Hazzelelponi, so I do not know what to make of it. Penuel was definitely a place on the other side of the Jordan that Gideon the judge had some trouble with in Judges, chapter 8. Gedor was a place in the mountains also. Ezer appears refers to 5 different people, while this is the only mention of Hushah. Somehow these were all the sons of Hur as this section was very hap-hazard.