Matthew 2:13
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.
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(13) The angel.—Better, an angel. The interval of time between the departure of the Magi and Joseph’s dream is not specified. Probably it was very short. As with the Magi, the dream may have come as an echo of his waking thoughts, an answer to the perplexities with which their visit and the other wonders of the time had filled his spirit.

Flee into Egypt.—The nearness of Egypt had always made it a natural asylum for refugees from Palestine. So Jeroboam had found shelter there (1Kings 11:40), and at a later date, Johanan the son of Kareah and his companions had fled thither from the face of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 43:7). The number of Jews who were settled in Alexandria and other cities of Egypt had probably made the step still more common during the tyranny of Herod’s later years.

Matthew 2:13. And when they were departed — Probably very soon after; for Bethlehem being only about two hours’ journey from Jerusalem, no doubt Herod would have speedy intelligence of the motions of the wise men: the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, take the young child, &c. — How watchful was the providence of God over this holy child and his righteous parents: while Joseph and Mary slept secure, enriched by the presents of the wise men, God watches for their safety, and makes them acquainted with the danger which hung over them. They are commanded to flee into Egypt, which was situated so near to Bethlehem, that they could easily arrive there in a few days. And the same divine providence also superintends and preserves all that have an eye thereto, and confide therein, and are God’s true people. Only they must obey his voice, and use the means he has appointed for their preservation. Even Jesus, the only begotten and beloved Son of the Father is not preserved without being taken into a foreign country. The command given by the angel to Joseph and Mary, to flee into Egypt, shows, that this vision happened before their return to Nazareth. For otherwise, it is much more probable they would have been ordered to flee into Syria, which was much nearer to Nazareth than Egypt; to which they could not have passed from thence without going through the very heart of Herod’s dominions, unless they had taken a very large circuit with great expense and danger. For Herod will seek the young child to destroy him — Being alarmed by the extraordinary circumstances which had lately taken place, and fearing lest this child should, in time, be a formidable rival to his family. For when the wise men had come so far to pay their homage to a new-born prince, the several reports of what had lately happened would, upon this occasion, be revived; and the behaviour of two such celebrated persons as Simeon and Anna, on the presentation of Christ in the temple, which might at first be only taken notice of by a few pious persons, would, probably, be now reported to Herod, and must add to the alarm which the inquiry of the sages gave him. Respecting Egypt, to which the holy family was commanded to flee, we may here observe, that after the death of Antony and Cleopatra it became a Roman province, and many Jews fixed their abode there, who, speaking the Greek language, made use of the Greek version of the Scriptures, and had even a temple there, which Onias had built them. These circumstances, doubtless, would make the abode of Joseph and Mary in that country more comfortable to them than it otherwise would have been; yet it is natural to suppose, that this information and command from the angel would be a great trial of their faith. To say nothing of the concern it must give them to learn that the life of this divine child was threatened by so crafty, powerful, and bloody a prince as Herod. Joseph was but a carpenter, and therefore, we may suppose, in low circumstances; and Egypt was a strange land, and a land where, it is likely, he had few, if any, acquaintances, and no visible way of subsistence. But, no doubt, he was able to trust that God whose beloved Son was given him in charge, and who had appeared in so signal and manifest a manner for the redemption of his people, and for the child’s protection.

2:13-15 Egypt had been a house of bondage to Israel, and particularly cruel to the infants of Israel; yet it is to be a place of refuge to the holy Child Jesus. God, when he pleases, can make the worst of places serve the best of purposes. This was a trial of the faith of Joseph and Mary. But their faith, being tried, was found firm. If we and our infants are at any time in trouble, let us remember the straits in which Christ was when an infant. 16-18 Herod killed all the male children, not only in Bethlehem, but in all the villages of that city. Unbridled wrath, armed with an unlawful power, often carries men to absurd cruelties. It was no unrighteous thing with God to permit this; every life is forfeited to his justice as soon as it begins. The diseases and deaths of little children are proofs of original sin. But the murder of these infants was their martyrdom. How early did persecution against Christ and his kingdom begin! Herod now thought that he had baffled the Old Testament prophecies, and the efforts of the wise men in finding Christ; but whatever crafty, cruel devices are in men's hearts, the counsel of the Lord shall stand.The angel appeareth to Joseph in a dream - See Matthew 1:20.

Flee into Egypt - Egypt is situated to the southwest of Judea, and is distant from Bethlehem perhaps about 60 miles. It was at this time a Roman province. There were many Jews there, who had a temple and synagogues (see the notes at Isaiah 19:18), and Joseph, therefore, would be among his own countrymen, and yet beyond the reach of Herod. The jurisdiction of Herod extended only to the River Sihon, or "river of Egypt," and, of course, beyond that Joseph was safe from his designs. For a description of Egypt, see the notes at Isaiah 19. It is remarkable that this is the only time in which our Saviour was out of Palestine, and that this was in the land where the children of Israel had suffered so much and so long under the oppression of the Egyptian kings. The very land which was the land of bondage and groaning for the Jews, became now the land of refuge and safety for the new-born King of Judea. God can overturn nations and kingdoms, so that those whom he loves shall be safe anywhere.

Mt 2:13-23. The Flight into Egypt—The Massacre at Bethlehem—The Return of Joseph and Mary with the Babe, after Herod's Death, and Their Settlement at Nazareth. ( = Lu 2:39).

The Flight into Egypt (Mt 2:13-15).

13. 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—Observe this form of expression, repeated in Mt 2:14—another indirect hint that Joseph was no more than the Child's guardian. Indeed, personally considered, Joseph has no spiritual significance, and very little place at all, in the Gospel history.

and flee into Egypt—which, being near, as Alford says, and a Roman province independent of Herod, and much inhabited by Jews, was an easy and convenient refuge. Ah! blessed Saviour, on what a checkered career hast Thou entered here below! At Thy birth there was no room for Thee in the inn; and now all Judea is too hot for Thee. How soon has the sword begun to pierce through the Virgin's soul (Lu 2:35)! How early does she taste the reception which this mysterious Child of hers is to meet with in the world! And whither is He sent? To "the house of bondage?" Well, it once was that. But Egypt was a house of refuge before it was a house of bondage, and now it has but returned to its first use.

and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him—Herod's murderous purpose was formed before the Magi had reached Bethlehem.

How long it was before this apparition to Joseph the Scripture saith not, but admitting what is affirmed by some geographers, that Bethlehem Judah was but two days’ journey from Jerusalem, it cannot be presumed long, for Herod had (doubtless) quick intelligence of the wise men’s motions. Here was a second temptation upon Joseph, who was of no great quality, (a carpenter), and might have anxious thoughts how he in Egypt should maintain himself, his wife, and child; but Joseph knew that the earth was the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: though Egypt therefore was a land of idolaters, and he had no visible way of subsistence there, yet we shall hear that none of these things made him hesitate. Egypt was near to Palestine, and the dominions of another prince, within which Herod had nothing to do. Jeroboam fled thither, 1 Kings 11:40, and stayed there till the death of Solomon. God’s precept here did not only indicate his care and special providence for and over this holy Child, but included a promise of sustenance and support for it and its parents; and the Lord further assured Joseph that he should not die in that exile, for he would likewise tell him the time when he should come back. Christ’s time to die was not yet come, and therefore he would have him out of the way, for he who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins, and knoweth the thoughts of man afar off, did know that Herod would

seek the young child to destroy him: he should but seek him, for God had resolved to preserve him, but he would show the malice of his heart in seeking of him, therefore God commands him to go away, and directeth him whither to go. The certainty of an issue, from the Divine counsels, or a Divine revelation, ought not to encourage us in the neglect of any rational and just means for the obtaining of it. Though God will provide for his church and people, yet it is his will they should use all just and lawful means for their own preservation.

And when they were departed,.... That is immediately, or as soon as they were gone, or in a very little time after, probably the same night,

behold, the Angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream; it is very likely the same angel who appeared to him in such sort, Matthew 1:20 "saying arise", awake out of sleep, and rise from thy bed directly,

and take the young child and his mother. The angel does not say take thy wife and son; for though Mary was properly his wife, yet Christ was not properly his son. The child is also mentioned before the mother, not only because of his divine nature and office, in respect to which he was her God and Saviour; but because it was the preservation of the child that was chiefly regarded, and for which the providence of God was particularly concerned; wherefore Joseph is ordered to take them in proper carriages, and

flee into Egypt, which was near to Judea, and so a fit place to flee to; for a long and tedious journey would not have been suitable to the mother and her young child. Moreover, Egypt was out of Herod's jurisdiction; here he could not come at them, or have any power over them; besides, hereby a prophecy after mentioned was to have its accomplishment. Hence it appears to be lawful to flee from danger, from tyrants and persecutors, when the providence of God opens a way for escape. The angel goes on with his charge,

and be thou there until I bring thee word: continue there, do not remove elsewhere, or return back, till I speak with thee, or order and command thee otherwise; and gives the reason for his appearing to him in such a manner, and giving such a charge;

for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him: no less a person than Herod the king, a bloody minded man, revengeful, desperate, and resolute in whatsoever he undertakes, "will seek", diligently search and inquire for, not his parents, Joseph and Mary, who might have been safe, but "the young child", who was born king of the Jews, and which gave him a great deal of uneasiness; and that not to worship him, as he told the wise men, but

to destroy him, to take away his life; to prevent which the angel was sent with this charge to Joseph: for though he was born to die for the sins of his people, his time was not yet come; he was to grow up to years of maturity, he was to be a preacher of the Gospel, to do many miracles and at last to lay down his life of himself, voluntarily, and not to be taken away from him without his knowledge and will.

{2} 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.

(2) Christ having just been born, begins to be crucified for us, both in himself, and also in his members.

Matthew 2:13. Ἀναχωρ. δὲ αὐτῶν] The divine direction and flight into Egypt must be conceived as taking place immediately after the departure of the Magi.

Matthew 2:16. φαίνεται] historic present.

The continuation of the narrative in connection with the legend of the murder of the children by Herod makes Jesus take refuge in Egypt, not because it was near at hand, not subject to Herod, and inhabited by many Jews, but because a residence in Egypt, and that as an antitype to that of the Israelites in that country, was in accordance with the passage in Hosea 11:1 (Matthew 2:15). A later age named Matarea, near Leontopolis, as the locality (see Paulus, Merkw. Reisen in d. Orient, III. p. 256; Schubert, Reise in d. Morgenl. II. p. 170).

ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοί] until I shall have told thee (ἄν, of a case occurring), that is, that thou shouldst come back again. Ellipsis of the common “it” is, since the time of Homer (Nägelsbach on the Iliad, pp. 60, 120, ed. 3), in universal use.

τοῦ ἀπολέσαι] Expression of the intention; see Kühner, II. p. 204; Buttm. neut. Gr. p. 232 [E. T. 270].

Matthew 2:13-23. Flight to Egypt, massacre in Bethlehem, return to Nazareth. These three stories have one aim. They indicate the omens which appear in beginnings—omina principiis inesse solent (Ovid). The fortunes of Christianity foreshadowed in the experiences of the holy child: welcomed by Gentiles, evil entreated by Jews. “The real contents of these sections embody an ideal aim” (Schanz).

13–15. The Flight into Egypt

13. the young child] Named first, as the most precious charge and the most exposed to danger.

Egypt] at all times the readiest place of refuge for the Israelites, whether from famine or from political oppression. It had sheltered many thousands of Jews from the tyranny of the Syrian kings. Consequently large settlements of Jews were to be found in various cities of Egypt and Africa. In Alexandria the Jews numbered a fifth of the population. Wherever therefore the infant Saviour’s home was in Egypt, it would be in the midst of His brethren according to the flesh.

At this time Egypt was a Roman province. This incident of Christ’s stay in Egypt would be regarded as a precious memory by the African church—the church of Cyprian, Origen and Augustine.

Matthew 2:13. Ἐγερθεὶς, rising) i.e. immediately.—τὸ παίδιον, the child) Greater regard is paid to Him than to His mother.[95]—ἑώς ἄν, κ.τ.λ., until, etc.) Thus the faith of Joseph was exercised; all things were not revealed to him at once; he was to await the time of returning [till it should please God to direct him to do so]: nor did the angel speak to him in the meanwhile.—Ἠρώδης, Herod) of whom Joseph appears to have hoped well from the discourse of the Magi.

[95] And it is rather towards the name and kingdom of Christ, than towards any power external to Christ, that the world bears a grudge.—Vers. Germ.

Verse 13. - And (Revised Version, now) when they were departed. The flight was not by their advice, and they were not even entrusted with the secret. Behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream (Matthew 1:20, notes). The present tense (φαίνεται) is here more vivid. Saying, Arise (ver. 14, note), and take the young Child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; Revised Version, I tell thee (ἕως α}ν εἴπω σοι). The rendering of the Authorized Version seems to be due to a desire to express the dependence of the messenger on him who sent him. For Herod; though he spoke so fair to the Magi. Will seek. The full form (μέλλει ... ζητεῖν) hints that Herod's action will be the result of no momentary emotion, but of premeditation. The young Child to destroy him. The final motive (τοῦ ἀπολέσαι) of seeking him. Matthew 2:13
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