##Did you know these facts ?
Malachi, the last book of the OT, was a message of encouragement for the Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon. Matthew wrote his Gospel more than 400 years later. The Jews still lived in their homeland, but under the oppressive rule of Rome. Matthew tells the good news about how Jesus the Messiah fulfills the promises of God in the OT.
A humble hometown.
Jesus’ parents came from Nazareth, a small town halfway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee. They returned to Nazareth from Egypt after having fled there from the wrath of Herod (Matthew 2:19–23). The people of Jesus’ day despised Nazareth (John 1:46).
At 700 feet (213 m) below sea level, the Sea of Galilee is the lowest-lying freshwater lake on earth. Galilee has no natural harbors, and its low elevation coupled with the steep hills surrounding it can cause unpredictable storms. Nonetheless, its wealth of fish made Galilee popular with fishermen, who built artificial harbors to bring in their catch.
Jesus encourages his disciples to call God their Father (Matthew 6:6, 9). This reminds believers that God has adopted them as his children because of Jesus (see Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). In Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus, “Abba” was the word for father (see Mark 14:36).
A person’s motivation for doing good deeds is what counts in God’s eyes. The one who seeks praise from others cannot expect any reward from God. It should be enough if only God knows one’s good deeds (Matthew 6:1–4).
Today pearls are often grown in oyster or clam farms, but this was not the case in ancient Palestine. Out of a 6,000-pound (2,700 kg) haul of oysters, one might find only three or four perfect pearls. Such priceless objects certainly shouldn’t be thrown to pigs (Matthew 7:6).
Centurions (Matthew 8:5) were Roman officers in charge of a unit of 80 to 100 men, called a centuria. Six centuria made up a cohort of 480 to 600 men. Ten cohorts made up a legion of 4,800 to 6,000 men. These 10 cohorts were numbered from 1 to 10, with 1 being the most prestigious and 10 the least. It was the responsibility of every centurion to oversee the training and discipline of the soldiers under his command.
How can Jesus cast out demons?
Jesus’ remarkable supernatural power was obvious. Many believed that his power came from God, but some of the religious leaders denied this (Matthew 9:34). Matthew’s readers understand that Jesus’ actions prove that he is the Messiah.
John’s imprisonment (Matthew 11:2) was in the Machaerus fortress, just east of where the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea. It sat atop a 1,600-foot-high (490 m) mountain with steep sides and ravines. Along with Masada and the Herodium, it was one of many fortresses that guarded the nation’s eastern borders.
Synagogues (Matthew 12:9) became a part of Jewish life during the Babylonian exile, when Jews were unable to go to the temple in Jerusalem. The synagogues provided a place for both worship and instruction in the law.
The place where Jesus sat beside the sea (Matthew 13:1–2) is traditionally called the Cove of the Parables. It was a horseshoe-shaped cove that had remarkable acoustics. Anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 people could fit just along the beach, while twice that many could easily fill the entire hillside. A person sitting at the very top of the hill could hear a speaker standing on the beach, even though they could hardly see him!
Herod Antipas (Matthew 14:1) was the ruler over the region where Jesus ministered. On a trip to Rome, Antipas fell in love with Herodias, the wife of his half brother Herod Phillip I. Both Antipas and Herodias divorced their spouses in order to marry each other. It was for this action that John publicly condemned Antipas, resulting in John’s death at Herod’s hand.
Fear vs. faith. Many kinds of fears are under-standable and can even keep us from danger. But fears that cause us to doubt God must be overcome by faith. God is trustworthy and able to save us (Matthew 14:28–33).
Magadan (Matthew 15:39) is probably another spelling of Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene. Magdala was a major fishing center where fishermen would take their catch to be salted for preservation. It was here that archaeologists found the 2,000-year-old “Kinneret boat,” which offered a glimpse into the fishing industry of first-century Galilee (see Matthew 4:21).
Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13) was an important city, 25 miles (40 km) north of the Sea of Galilee. It was the center of worship for various pagan deities, including Baal, the Greek god Pan, and even Caesar Augustus himself, who was regarded as a god in the official Roman religion.
The two-drachma temple tax. In Moses’ time, each person over the age of 20 was to give a half-shekel offering (the equivalent of two Roman drachmas) for the support of the tabernacle (see Ex. 30:11–16). This practice was still being observed some 1,500 years later, in Jesus’ day, to maintain the temple. In Matt. 17:24, Jesus paid the tax for himself and Peter, using a shekel coin retrieved from a fish’s mouth!
One talent was equal to about 20 years worth of wages for a laborer. By today’s standards, one talent would equal about $600,000 USD. Multiplied by 10,000 (the amount the servant owed in Matthew 18:24), the debt would have been $6 billion! Jesus uses this illustration to show that, without forgiveness from God, our debt to him is impossible to pay.
The Jericho mentioned in Matthew 20:29 was about a mile (1.6 km) south of the Jericho that was destroyed when the Israelites conquered Canaan (Joshua 6). This new Jericho included a palace of Herod the Great. When the winters grew cold and damp in Jerusalem, Herod would go there to enjoy Jericho’s warm, dry climate. His palace included gardens, a swimming pool, an amphitheater, and even a chariot race course.
Large farming estates were common in Palestine. The landowners frequently rented their vineyards to farmers so they could tend to other interests. Often these vineyards were surrounded by stone walls to prevent wild animals or thieves from entering. Many of the larger vineyards had watchtowers.