James McGrath on Matthew's Use of Hosea 11 & Jeremiah 31

Today’s New Testament Gospel reading comes from from Matthew 2.13-18.  In this passage, Matthew cites two Old Testament texts, namely Hosea 11.1 (only part of the verse) and Jeremiah 31.15.  Here are Hosea 11.1 and Jeremiah 31.15, as they are quoted in Matthew:

Hosea 11.1

Out of Egypt I called my son.

Jeremiah 31.15

A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.


It is clear here that Matthew is not treating these texts as predictive prophecy.  In fact, Hosea 11.1 is not predictive in any manner whatsoever, it is simply a statement.  And, it is unfortunate that so many today treat prophecy primarily in terms of predicting the future. At this point, I defer at this point to an article by James McGrath where he discusses Matthew’s use of the these two texts and others if you are interested in seeing what Matthew was likely doing.  You can read the article to see how Matthew is likely using these two texts to show Jesus in a sense reliving the history of the people of Israel.  I would have discussed this much the same way, so there is little point in me rehashing this.  The section I am referring to is entitled “The Problem of Fulfillment of Prophecy in Matthew 1-2.”

Recommended Reading:

Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament

Related Posts:

Micah 5.1-4 – Thomas Paine on Prophecy

Haggai 1.2 -The Historical Context

Isaiah 45 – A Litany of Monotheistic Texts?