Matthew 2:12

Matthew 2:12

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Matthew 2:12 is the twelfth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

. The magi
Magi is a term, used since at least the 4th century BC, to denote a follower of Zoroaster, or rather, a follower of what the Hellenistic world associated Zoroaster with, which...

, dispatched by King Herod
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

, have found and paid homage to the Infant Jesus. In this verse this they return home rather than to Herod.

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:
And being warned of God in a
dream that they should not
return to Herod, they departed
into their own country another way.

The World English Bible
World English Bible
The World English Bible is a public domain translation of the Bible that is currently in draft form. Work on the World English Bible began in 1997 and was known as the American Standard Version 1997...

 translates the passage as:
Being warned in a dream
that they shouldn't return
to Herod, they went back to
their own country another way.

For a collection of other versions see BibRef Matthew 2:12

That the Magi had no idea of Herod's malicious intentions, despite his reputation and the threat posed by a new king, is to Keener a sign of their innocent naivete and further contrast with Herod's malevolence.

Unlike in Matthew 1
Matthew 1
Matthew 1 is the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It contains two distinct sections. The first lists the genealogy of Jesus's legal father Joseph from Abraham...

, no source of the dream is mentioned, but it likely meant to have come from the same angelic source as Joseph's dreams. In addition to astronomy, Magi were also well known as interpreters of dreams.

Returning a different way has often been seen as a metaphor for the effect finding Christ has on a person's life. Clarke notes that Gregory the Great commented that "having come to know Jesus we are forbidden to return by the way we came." F. Dale Bruner
F. Dale Bruner
-Career:Bruner became a Christian under the teaching of Henrietta Mears at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. It was there that he met his wife Kathy and discerned his call to be a professor....

 notes that the word way often has theological overtones in Matthew and that a reference to verses such as Matthew 7:13
Matthew 7:13
Matthew 7:13 is the thirteenth verse of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount...

 and 7:14
Matthew 7:14
Matthew 7:14 is the fourteenth verse of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount...

 that discuss the way of salvation might be implied.

At this point the magi leave the narrative and do not reappear. There are many traditional stories about what happened to them after this. One has them baptized by St. Thomas
Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in . He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman...

 on his way to India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Another has their remains found by Saint Helena and brought to Constantinople. From there they eventually made their way to Germany and the Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral
Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral
The Shrine of the Three Kings is a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral...

 now reportedly holds their remains. Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 in his writings claimed that he saw the perfectly preserved bodies of the three men in Saveh
Sāveh is a city in the Markazi Province of Iran. It is located around 100 km southwest of Tehran. As of 2006, the city had a population of 179,009 people.-History:In the 7th century BC it was as stronghold of the Medes...

 in Persia on his journeys.

Bruner notes that in this verse Matthew refers to just Herod not King Herod as earlier in the chapter. Herod is never again referred to as king in the chapter. Bruner speculates that the worship of the infant by the Magi had altered things and Herod had been supplanted as the true king.

For a discussion of what country they might be returning to see Matthew 2:2
Matthew 2:2
Matthew 2:2 is the second verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The magi travelling from the east have arrived at the court of King Herod in Jerusalem and in this verse inform him of their purpose.-Text:...