How can we explain Matthew’s apparent misquotation of Micah 5:2? MATTHEW 2:6

MATTHEW 2:6—How can we explain Matthew’s apparent misquotation of Micah 5:2?

PROBLEM: Matthew 2:6 quotes Micah 5:2. However, the Matthew uses are different those by Micah.

SOLUTION: Although Matthew seems to have changed some of the from the passage in Micah, there is no real deviation in the meaning of the text. Matthew, in some instances, seems to have paraphrased.

First, Matthew inserts the phrase “land of Judah” for the word “Ephrathah.” This does not really change the meaning of the verse. There is no difference between the land of Judah and Ephrathah, except one is more specific the other. In fact, Ephrathah refers to Bethlehem in the Micah passage, and Bethlehem is located in the land of Judah. However, this does not change the basic meaning of this verse. is speaking of the same area of land. Interestingly, when Herod asked the chief priests and the scribes where the child was to be born, they said, “in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matt. 2:5, nasb).

Second, Matthew describes the land of Judah as “not the least” but Micah states that is “little.” Here, Matthew be saying that the Messiah is to from this region, is by no means least among the other areas of land in Judah. The phrase in Micah only says that Bethlehem is too little small, as compared to the other areas of land in Judah. The verse does not say is the least among them, only very little. Matthew is saying the same thing in different , namely, that Bethlehem is little in size, but by no means the least in significance, the Messiah was born there.

Finally, Matthew uses the phrase “who shepherd My people ” and Micah does not. Micah 5:2 recognizes that there be a ruler in , and Matthew recognizes this as well. However, the phrase that is not mentioned in Micah is taken from 2 Samuel 5:2. The combining of verses does not take away what is being said, but strengthens the point that the author is making. There are other instances where an author combines one Scripture another. For example, Matthew 27:9–10 combines some of Zechariah 11:12–13 Jeremiah 19:2, 11 and 32:6–9. , Mark 1:2–3 combines some of 40:3 Malachi 3:1. Only the first passage is mentioned, it is the main passage being cited.

In brief, Matthew is not misrepresenting any information in his quotation of Micah 5:2 and 2 Samuel 5:2. Matthew’s quote is still accurate even though paraphrases part of it and combines another portion of Scripture it.



[1]Geisler, N. L., & , T. A. (1992). When critics ask : A popular handbook on Bible difficulties (327). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

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