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Is the mention of King Herod and the Chief priests being troubled because of the announcement of Christ a veiled reference to the Kings and Princes from Psalm 2? I don't understand Greek, but a quick look into Blue Bible makes it look like the Septuagint uses the same word for "princes" and "chiefs".

Matt 2:3, 4 - When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

I "discovered" this preparing for a sermon and I kinda like this angle, but I don't want to just make things up.

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  • Luke makes a more definite connection to Psalm 2 in Acts. For example, Acts 4:27. Note גֹויִ֑ם can be translated either nations or Gentiles.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Apr 6 at 9:59

2 Answers 2

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Psalm 2:1-2

Why do the nations [the heathen] protest and the peoples conspire in vain? Kings on earth rise up and princes plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one

It is important here to understand that "his anointed one" in this case is a reference to the anointed king of Judah, who is the subject of a plot by gentile nations and their rulers. This happened quite a few times in OT history. So this is not a situation in which a Jewish king was plotting with Jewish priests against the messiah. Indeed at the time this psalm was written, there was already a "messiah" - an anointed Davidic king - on the throne.

In the case of Matthew, the adjective "chief" should be understood as "leading." At this time in Jewish history, the leading priests were members of the party of the Sadducees, who collaborated with Rome and supported Herod's repression of any movement thought to be a threat to their power. They were not royal princes, although they could indeed be called rulers in the sense that the Sadducees controlled the Temple bureaucracy and held sway in the Sanhedrin.

Conclusion: The kings and princes in Psalm 2 are specifically heathen rulers, who plot against a reigning Israelite king. Matthew's report of Herod and the "chief priests" conspiring against the infant Jesus is a very different matter.

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First, I presume that the OP is supposing that Matt 2:3, 4 is alluding to Ps 2:2, the former of which says:

Ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης ἐταράχθη καὶ πᾶσα Ἰεροσόλυμα μετ' αὐτοῦ, καὶ συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ ἐπυνθάνετο παρ' αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ χριστὸς γεννᾶται. = When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

In the LXX (to which the NT most often quotes, but not exclusively), the text of Ps 2:2 says:

παρέστησαν οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς καὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες συνήχθησαν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ κατὰ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ κατὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ. διάψαλμα. = The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together, against the LORD and against His Anointed One:

OK, so here are the similarities and differences:

  • the word for "king is the same in both cases but singular in Matthew 2 and plural in Ps 2
  • the word for "chief-priests" in Matt 2 is ἀρχιερεύς; however, the word for "ruler in Ps 2 is ἄρχων = "ruler, governor, initiator, prince, etc".

In the latter case, the two words are distinct but related because both have a part that derives from the word ἀρχή = "beginning, start".

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