THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into
their own country another way.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream,
saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there
until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And
was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by
the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and
sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from
two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise
men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was
there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her
children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in
Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel:
for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child
and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign
in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being
warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in
a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be
called a Nazarene. [MATTHEW 2:13-23 KJV]
Herod had asked the wise men to return to Jerusalem: bring me word again, that I may come
and worship him also. [Matthew 2:8 KJV] From the rest of this passage, it is safe to assume
that Herod had other plans in mind when he made this request of the wise men. If they truly
were wise, they may have had some question about Herod’s response. They may have
sensed that he had ulterior motives. Whether they did, or not, is a matter of speculation. What
we do know is that God “warned them in a dream” not to return to Herod.
Dreams were used in Bible times to convey the will of God. Joseph, Paul, Peter, and John are
but examples of those who received visions, or dreams to tell them of the will of God.
The wise men, warned of God, returned home by a different route, failing to return to
Jerusalem and meet with Herod.
As soon as the Magi left, God warned Joseph in a dream to take Jesus and His mother to
Egypt. There he is to remain until God tells him that it is safe. Herod is going to try to destroy
Jesus flees to Egypt, the land of bondage in the days of Moses, when Israel became a nation.
Israel went to Egypt as a nomadic tribe, but emerged a nation separated for the purposes of
God. Now, Jesus will be kept safe in that land, even as Israel escaped the famine by going
Egypt had a large population of Jews. Estimates are that certain sections of Egypt had up to a
40% Jewish population. A great temple had been erected there, and the Septuagint had been
translated in Alexandria about 300 years earlier. There are many people there with whom
Joseph and his family may find safety.
Herod’s authority did not extend into Egypt. His authority ended at the River Sihon.
Herod’s history is not pretty. He reacted badly at the birth of Jesus. He did not know the time
of the Messiah had come. He did not know enough of the Scriptures to know where the
Messiah would be born. Therefore, he feared the birth of One who was born to be “King of the
Jews.” His reaction was to destroy Him. Rather than protect life of One who was born in a
stable, and lain in a manger, he sought to kill Him. A humble beginning, but one which Herod
knew in his heart would endanger his reign. Unfortunately, he did not realize the nature of the
reign of the Christ, a spiritual rather than a physical kingdom. But, it is not uncommon for the
reaction against the truth to be based more upon ignorance than knowledge, fear of what
they do not know.
The indication is that Joseph responded immediately. He was warned in a dream, and left
while it was still night. He believed. He obeyed. There he remained until God told him to return.
This is that which was spoken by the prophet: When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and
called my son out of Egypt. [HOSEA 11:1 KJV]
How many times in the life of Jesus are these sentiments to arise? Over three hundred
prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus to show that He was indeed the Son of God, the Savior of
the world, the Christ, the Messiah.
Herod was not happy when he found out that the wise men had returned home another way.
To him, it seemed like a personal affront. Filled with anger, he sent forth the edict that all the
male children two years of age and under were to be killed. How did he arrive at this age?
Remember, he had asked the wise men when the star had appeared. Now, the question is,
how long had the Magi traveled after seeing the star? That, we do not know. We do know that
Jesus could have been as old as two when Herod committed this atrocity.
Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel
weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
[JEREMIAH 31:15 KJV]
These words of Jeremiah describe the scene at Bethlehem. It would have been chaos. Can
you imagine the sorrow of the mothers weeping for the death of their sons? No consolation
would have been possible.
This is the world into which our Savior came. Too often His world is seen through rose-
colored glasses. Too often people perceive it as being sanitary, free from the corruption that
seethed through Israel, and the Roman Empire. From the midst of this sorrow, anguish,
despair and iniquity would come He Who would comfort the world, being the Prince of Peace,
the Light of the world, the Savior of mankind.
When Herod was dead, an angel appeared to Joseph telling him it was time to return to Israel.
The one who sought to kill Jesus was dead.
Returning to the land of promise, Joseph learns that Archelaus, the son of Herod, now sat on
the throne. He fears to return to Bethlehem. God warns him to go to Galilee, to the city of
… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
The fulfillment of prophecy is a prime focus of Matthew. But of what prophecy does he refer?
There are two possibilities.
From the following passages, Nazareth and Galilee were noteworthy for the lack of
production of righteousness and prophets. The entire tenor of the prophecies referring to the
Messiah see Him as a Suffering Servant, One who is despised, afflicted and rejected. Thus, a
slur of being a Nazarene would characterize these prophecies.
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law,
and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto
him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
[JOHN 1:45-46 KJV]
They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of
Galilee ariseth no prophet. [JOHN 7:52 KJV]
The Hebrew word for “Branch” is netser. This is the root word for Nazareth. Thus a reference
could be made to all the passages and prophecies, such as that in Isaiah, which refer to the
Messiah as the “Branch.”
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his
roots: [ISAIAH 11:1 KJV]
Regardless of which prophecies Matthew had in mind, Jesus fulfills the words of God. He
grows up in the city of Nazareth, and is a Nazarene.
THE TRIP TO JERUSALEM
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he
was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when
they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and
Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company,
went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when
they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of
the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were
astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed:
and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I
have sought thee sorrowing.
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my
And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them,
and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. [LUKE 2:40-52
Jesus, like every other boy, grew up. He, however, as He grew was lively and “filled with
wisdom.” His wisdom will be seen shortly. The most important thing was that He had “the
grace of God,” or His favor. Jesus was blessed.
All males were to present themselves at Jerusalem at the time of the Passover (Exodus 23:
14-17; Deuteronomy 16:16). It is possible that twelve was the age of presentation at the feast.
Thus, it may have been Jesus’ first trip to Jerusalem, although His parents went every year.
When the feast was over, Jesus remained in Jerusalem. His parents assumed that He was
with other relatives, and did not miss Him at first. When they realized that He was not with
them after the first night, they returned to Jerusalem to find Him.
It took them three days to find Jesus. One day’s travel, and two days searching. He was
sitting in the temple, listening and asking questions of “the doctors” of the law. Everyone who
was within earshot was amazed at the answers He gave the doctors, and at the extent of His
knowledge of the Law. Even at the tender age of twelve, He knew what God said.
His parents, however, were not pleased with His actions. They asked Him why He had
treated them like this? They were very anxious in their search, and scared.
His response, Do you not know that I must be about my Father’s business? How did you not
know where to find Me? It is like there is not any other place that He would be. What is the
But, they did not understand. The appearance of the angel to Mary before she gave birth, the
appearance of the angel to Joseph when he found out Mary was pregnant, the visit of the
shepherds when He was born, the words of Simeon and Anna when Jesus was circumcised,
the visit of the Magi, all these things seemed to allude them here as they were worried about
their son. His words made no sense to them. However, His mother remembered what He
said, she did not understand it; but, she remembered it.
They then returned to Nazareth, where Jesus grew to manhood, being obedient to Joseph and
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.