Flight to Egypt

Aesop has a helpful fable. Once upon a time some mice gathered to decide upon the best means of ridding themselves of the cat who had killed many of their friends and relatives. Various plans were discussed and rejected, until, at last, a young mouse came forward proposing that a … More


A special divine revelation in the form of a warning was given both to the wise men and to Joseph in the form of a dream (vv. 13-15). He is warned to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt (v. 13). The reason being that Herod would be searching for the child to kill him. The question might be, why Egypt? Among other things it was so that the prophet’s words, “out of Egypt I called my son” might be fulfilled (Hosea 11:1).

The move into Egypt was of course to escape danger. Herod’s pride was hurt and he was angry when the wise men failed to return and tell him where the baby Jesus could be found. This led him to kill all the boy babies two years of age and under who were still in Bethlehem (vv. 16-18). Probably not more than 20 children were slain (of course one is too many) for there were not that many male children of this age group in a small village like Bethlehem. Even today only 20,900 people live there.
The bitter reaction of Herod should not surprise us because his crimes were many. In fact he put to death  several of his own children and some of his wives whom he thought were plotting against him. When Herod died Joseph was again spoken to by an angel of the Lord and told to return to the land (vv. 19-23). Herod was succeeded by his son Archelaus who was as brutal as his father. Again Joseph was warned in a dream not to return to Bethlehem but instead to move back to Nazareth. This was once again a fulfillment of prophecy (v. 23). Four times in this short narrative, Joseph received devine instructiions through dreams. On one occasion the wise men are warned. God uses many methods to communicate His will to us. (Matt. 27:19). 


How did God speak to Joseph in this passage? How did Joseph respond? How does God speak to me today? How should I respond?

Matthew 2:13-23 (English Standard Version)

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son." Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more." But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He shall be called a Nazarene."

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