And he said unto them, go ye and tell that fox
Herod, who it may be sent them, of which Christ was not ignorant, nor of his design in it; and who, as Nero, for his cruelty, is compared to a lion, so he for his subtlety in this instance, as well as in the whole of his conduct, to a fox; though some think Christ has a regard to the Pharisees, and their craftiness, in forming this story, pretending good will to him, by acquainting him of Herod's malicious designs, when their view was only to scare him out of their country; so the false prophets and teachers, are for their cunning, subtlety, and flattery, compared to foxes, ( Song of Solomon 2:15 ) ( Ezekiel 13:4 ) as well as for their greediness and voraciousness: the word is used with the Jews, for a vain and empty man, in opposition to a good man; as in that saying F4 of R. Jannai,
``be thou the tail of lions, and not the head of "foxes;"''
or "vain men", as the gloss explains it:
behold, I cast out devils;
or "I will cast out devils", as the Ethiopic version reads, in spite of him, let him do his worst:
and I do cures today and tomorrow;
and so for some time to come; and which was doing good, and was what Herod and the Pharisees, had they any humanity in them, would have rejoiced at, and have chose that he should have continued with them, and not have threatened him with his life, or have took any methods to send him from them:
and the third day I shall be perfected;
that is, in a little time after, I shall be made perfect by sufferings, my course will be finished, and I shall have done all the work completely, I came about; and till that time come, it is not in his power, nor yours, nor all the men on earth, or devils in hell, to take away my life, or hinder me doing what I am about.
F4 Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 15. & Jarchi in ib.