Murder of the Innocents, and Return

Murder of the Innocents, and Return

Flight into Egypt. Murder of the Innocents.

(The Gospel History, Section 13)

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the male children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had carefully learned of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she would not be comforted, because they are not.

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead that sought the young child’s life. And he arose and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither; and being warned of God in a dream, he withdrew into the parts of Galilee, and came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene.

Murder of the Innocents, and Return

(The Saviour of the World, Vol I Book I Poem XVII)

Meanwhile, King Herod, mocked of the wise men,
And wroth exceeding, made of rage excuse:
He still would have the young Child’s life: on all
The little boys, two years and under, death
Decreed he, at the hands of his men-at-arms.
What need of bloody sword ’gainst baby strength
And piteous mothers’ wailing?

Too small a thing

For History’s record, this: any day a score
Might die of infant ailment, and who care,
Save that fond mother who fed eyes on each,
That father of whose flesh and blood each was?
Why not a score of babes, to justify
High policy—remove grave source of peril?
For how would Rome regard this Infant’s claims?

Before our God there be no small or great:
Anguish of mothers, blood of clinging babes,
Had, ages before, cried out to the just God:
The prophet Jeremiah told men how—

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
And would not be comforted, because they were not.”

Good is’t to do the will of God and die:
Full ill to hurt and kill and sacrifice,
For ends of ours, bodies and souls of men:
Sins of oppression are not forgot of God.

Now, Herod dead, an angel of the Lord
Appeared in a dream to Joseph; said to him,
“Arise, and take the young Child and His mother,
And unto the land of Israel return,
For they are dead that sought the young Child’s life.”
Thus, out of Egypt did He call His Son.

Joseph arose; took the young Child and mother,
And journeyed with them back to Israel:
But not in Bethlehem, David’s city, stayed;
A new king, Archelaus, Herod’s son,
Reigned over Judah—a danger to the Child.
Once more was Joseph warnèd in a dream:
Obedient, he withdrew to Galilee,
And came and dwelt again in Nazareth,
The fair and careless city he best knew.
Thus was fulfilled the prophet’s oracle—
Small honour should His birthplace bring to Him;—
Callèd a Nazarene, not Bethlehem-born;
Come out from a mixed people, scorned of Jews,
Not from King David’s city—of lineage pure.

So they who sat in darkness saw a Great Light
Running a daily round before their eyes,
E’en as the sun in heaven. And, might it be
Good that the Son of God, in that free place,
Should grow, and, all unhindered, manifest
His grace—not trammell’d by continual bond
Of the Law, a burden, laid by man, no man
Could bear? “Suffer the children,” He hath said.

St. Matthew ii. 16–23.
“A voice was heard in Ramah.”—Jer. xxxi. 15.
“Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”—Hos. xi. 1.
“A Nazarene.”—Isa. xi. 1.

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