Notes & Commentary:
Robber. Some understand this of Babylon, which robbed and pillaged the temple of God; others understand it of
Jerusalem, by reason of the many rapines and oppressions committed there. (Challoner) --- Hebrew, "now assemble, O daughter
of troops;" Babylon, famous (Haydock) for soldiers, who will seize Sedecias; (Jeremias xxxix. 6.; Calmet) or Jerusalem, noted
for rapine, chap. iii. Thou shalt be spoiled, yet restored till Bethlehem bring forth Christ, the ruler of the world. (Worthington)
Ephrata. This was the ancient name (Haydock) of Bethlehem, (Genesis xxxv. 16.) though some think that it was so called
after Caleb's wife, 1 Paralipomenon ii. 19. --- Art, or "art thou?" &c., which makes it agree with Matthew ii.
4. --- Little. Hebrew tsahir, (Haydock) is often rendered "considerable." (Chaldean) --- Thousands: capital
cities, Zacharias ix. 7. Bethlehem seemed too mean to send forth a ruler over the rest. The ancient Jews clearly understood
this of the Messias. The moderns explain it of Zorobabel: but the expressions are too grand for him. (Calmet) --- St. Jerome
accuses the Jews of having designedly omitted some cities, (Josue xv. 60.) because Bethlehem Ephrata is one. It is nowhere
else thus described. (Kennicott) --- The priests substituted land of Juda instead of Ephrata, Matthew ii. (Haydock)
--- The evangelist recites their words, to shew their negligence in quoting Scripture. "Yet some assert, that in almost all
quotations from the Old Testament the order or words are changed, and sometimes the sense,....as the apostles did not write
out of a book, but trusted to memory, which is sometimes fallacious." (St. Jerome) --- This principle would he very dangerous,
(Simon. Crit. i. 17.) and we should attribute the variation to other causes, as the sacred penman could not mistake. (Haydock)
--- Bethlehem, though a little town, was rendered more illustrious than many others by the birth of Christ. (Worthington)
--- Forth. That is, he who as man shall be born in thee, as God was born of his Father from all eternity.
(Challoner) --- His coming was also long before announced. (Origen, contra Cels. i.) --- But the former sense is preferable.
(Calmet) --- Eternity. These expressions singly imply a long time; (Exodus xxi. 6., and Psalm xxiii. 7.) but when doubled,
sęculum sęculi, &c., they must be understood of an absolute eternity, which Christ enjoyed with the Father and
the Holy Ghost; though, in his human nature, he was born in time. (Worthington)
Forth, till Babylon let them go; (Sanct.) or the Jews shall enjoy the land till Christ come; (St. Jerome, exp. ii.)
or he will leave them in their blindness till the nations shall have received the gospel, when there shall be one fold,
John x. 16., and Romans ix. 25.
Earth, Christ shall be glorified, governing his Church. The Jews shall be respected as a people singularly favoured.
Peace. This regards Christ and not Zorobabel. (Calmet) --- Assyrian. That is, the persecutors of the Church;
who are here called Assyrians by the prophet, because the Assyrians were at that time the chief enemies and persecutors of
the people of God. (Challoner) --- The Persians held the empire which had belonged to Babylon and to Assyria, and was founded
by Nemrod, Genesis x. 8. (Calmet) --- Seven, &c. The pastors of God's Church, and the defenders of the faith. The
number seven, in Scripture; is taken to signify many; and when eight is joined with it, we are to understand
that the number will be very great. (Challoner) --- See Ecclesiastes xi. 2., and Ruth iv. 16. (Calmet) --- Christ always preserves
a great number, not withstanding the attacks of persecutors enabling bishops to feed them with a power which the people must
revere, Hebrews xiii. (Worthington) --- Eight. Eschylus places Artaphanes between Smerdis and Hystaspes, the former
of whom was one of the seven magi, and the latter one of the seven conspirators, (Calmet) or rather chief princes, who attacked
the usurper. (Haydock) --- They always retained great privileges, so that they seemed all to govern. (V. Max. ix. 2.; Herodotus
iii. 65.) See 1 Esdras iv. 7., and Esther i. 14., where we find that the kings did nothing of importance without their seven
counsellors. (Calmet) --- Principal. Septuagint, "bites (Symmachus, Christ's) of men," or people of the old as well
as of the new law. (St. Jerome)
They. Hystaspes first laid a tax of money on the Persians, who hence styled him a merchant. (Herodotus iii. 89.) ---
He was severe, and often at war. (Calmet) --- Feed. They shall make spiritual conquests in the lands of their persecutors,
with the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, Ephesians vi. 17. (Challoner) --- With, &c. Septuagint,
"in the ditch." Theodotion, &c., "gates," where sentence was given. --- Borders. Seven or eight princes have taken
the place of Cambyses, who had invaded Judea, ver. 5. (Calmet)
Jacob; viz., the apostles, and the first preachers of the Jewish nation, whose doctrine, like dew, shall make the plants
of the converted Gentiles grow up, without waiting for any man to cultivate them by human learning. (Challoner) --- Under
Hystaspes, the husband of Esther, the Jews enjoyed rest, and Providence protected them. (Calmet)
Lion. This denotes the fortitude of these first preachers, and their success in their spiritual enterprises. (Challoner)
--- The Jews, by leave of Assuerus, defended themselves; and the Machabees became terrible, Esther ix., and 1 Machabees iii.
4. The power of the latter was established, while the efforts of Eupator and of other Syrian persecutors for sixty years,
down to Zebina, proved fruitless or destructive to themselves. (Calmet)
Horses. Some understand this, and all that follows to the end of the chapter, as addressed to the enemies of the Church.
But it may as well be understood of the converts to the Church, who should no longer put their trust in any of these things.
(Challoner) --- God will protect his people, so that horses and fortifications will be unnecessary.
Sorceries. The Jews after their return abstained more from such things; but not like the Church of Christ, in which
idols and dealings with the devil have never been tolerated.
Ear, to the admonitions of the prophets. Hence Egypt, &c., were justly punished.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The birth of Christ in Bethlehem: his reign and spiritual
1 Now shalt thou be laid waste, O daughter of the robber: they have laid
siege against us, with a rod shall they strike the cheek of the judge of Israel.
2 *And thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands
of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the
beginning, from the days of eternity.
3 Therefore will he give them up even till the time wherein she that travaileth
shall bring forth: and the remnant of his brethren shall be converted to the children of Israel.
4 And he shall stand, and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the height
of the name of the Lord, his God: and they shall be converted, for now shall he be magnified even to the ends of the earth.
5 And this man shall be our peace, when the Assyrian shall
come into our land, and when he shall set his foot in our houses: and we shall raise against him seven shepherds, and eight
6 And they shall feed the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land
of Nemrod with the spears thereof: and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian, when he shall come into our land, and when he
shall tread in our borders.
7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples, as a
dew from the Lord, and as drops upon the grass, which waiteth not for man, nor tarrieth for the children of men.
8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, in the midst of
many peoples, as a lion among the beasts of the forests, and as a young lion among the docks of sheep: who, when he shall
go through, and tread down, and take, there is none to deliver.
9 Thy hand shall be lifted up over thy enemies, and all thy enemies shall
be cut off.
10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that I will take
away thy horses out of the midst of thee, and will destroy thy chariots.
11 And I will destroy the cities of thy land, and will throw down all thy
strong holds, and I will take away sorceries out of thy hand, and there shall be no divinations in thee.
12 And I will destroy thy graven things, and thy statues out of the midst
of thee: and thou shalt no more adore the works of thy hands.
13 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: and will crush
14 And I will execute vengeance in wrath, and in indignation, among all
the nations that have not given ear.
2: Matthew ii. 6.; John vii. 42.