An exegetical study for the text, Matthew 2:1-18
The text is talking about the birth of Jesus. The author of this gospel sees Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy mainly by means of quoting the Old Testament passages. Therefore, the primary intention of the author for the text is that Jesus is the one whose birth had been prophesized. As a narrative, some excitements are involved in the story: unexpected visit of magi and Herod's conspiracy. The visit of magi gives a sense of celebration and Herod's conspiracy does presence of the evil force that tries to stop the fulfillment of the divine plan.
Some exegetical questions arise.
Who are magi? Where were they from? Why did they make such a long and dangerous journey to Judea to see the king of the Jews? Why did Herod play an evil role? Who or what caused the death of the innocent infants? Who might be responsible for that tragedy?
The term for magi(NASB) is the Greek form of the Old Persian magau. These magoi constituted a priestly caste that originated in Media. They specialized in dreams and omens and, according to Herodotus(Book i. 107, 120; Book vii. 19, 37, 113), claimed the gift of prophecy. NRSV renders it as "wise men". Korea bible renders it as Doctors. The history of Iran says that magi are the priests of Zoroastrianism. Since the text indicates that magi had some sort of knowledge about God, that possibility should be taken into consideration.
The term 'the east' and the notion of kingship in the text strongly imply Isaiah passages regarding king Cyrus as a possible behind scene. Isaiah 44:28 says, "It is I who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd!" 45:1 describes Cyrus as Messiah, saying, "Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed, whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before him, and to loose the loins of kings; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut." There is a possibility that the Persian priests who know about God and have been expecting the appearance of the just king like Cyrus came to Judea to bow down before the true king in the guidance of God.
My congregation consists of half UT graduate students and half first generation of Korean American. Out of the birth narrative of the text, preacher intents to encourage and give a hope to the congregation in the time of distress.