Matthew 2:15
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.
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(15) Until the death of Herod.—The uncertainty which hangs over the exact date of the Nativity hinders us from arriving at any precise statement as to the interval thus described. As the death of Herod took place a little before the Passover, B.C. 4 (according to the common but erroneous reckoning), it could not have been more than a few months, even if we fix the Nativity in the previous year.

Out of Egypt have I called my son.—As the words stand in Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt,” they refer, beyond the shadow of a doubt, to the history of Israel, as being in a special sense, among all the nations of the world, the chosen son of Jehovah (Exodus 4:22-23). It is hard to imagine any reader of the prophecy not seeing that this was what we should call the meaning. But the train of thought which leads the Evangelist to apply it to the Christ has a distinct method of its own. A coincidence in what seems an accessory, a mere circumstance of the story, carries his mind on to some deeper analogies. In the days of the Exodus, Israel was the one representative instance of the Fatherhood of God manifested in protecting and delivering His people. Now there was a higher representative in the person of the only begotten Son. As the words “Out of Egypt did I call my Son” (he translated from the Hebrew instead of reproducing the Greek version of the LXX.) rose to his memory, what more natural than that mere context and historical meaning should be left unnoticed, and that he should note with wonder what a fulfilment they had found in the circumstances he had just narrated. Here, as before, the very seeming strain put upon the literal meaning of the words is presumptive evidence that the writer had before him the fact to which it had been adapted, rather than that the narrative was constructed, as some have thought, to support the strained interpretation of the prophecy.

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 death of Herod - Herod died in the thirty-seventh year of his reign. It is not certainly known in what year he began his reign, and hence it is impossible to determine the time that Joseph remained in Egypt. The best chronologers have supposed that he died somewhere between two and four years after the birth of Christ, but at what particular time cannot now be determined. Nor can it be ascertained at what age Jesus was taken into Egypt. It seems probable that he was supposed to be a year old (see Matthew 2:16), and of course the time that he remained in Egypt was not long. Herod died of a most painful and loathsome disease in Jericho. See the notes at Matthew 2:16; also Josephus, Ant. xvii. 6. 5.

That it might be fulfilled ... - This language is recorded in Hosea 11:1. It there evidently speaks of God's calling His people out of Egypt, under Moses. See Exodus 4:22-23. It might be said to be fulfilled in his calling Jesus from Egypt, because the words in Hosea aptly expressed this also. The same love which led him to deliver His people Israel from the land of Egypt, now led him also to deliver His Son from that place. The words used by Hosea would express both events. See the notes at Matthew 1:22. Perhaps, also, the place in Hosea became a proverb, to express any great deliverance from danger; and thus it could be said to be fulfilled in Christ, as other proverbs are in cases to Which they are applicable. It cannot be supposed that the passage in Hosea was a prophecy of the Messiah. It is evidently used by Matthew only because the language is appropriate to express the event.

15. And was there until the death of Herod—which took place not very long after this of a horrible disease; the details of which will be found in Josephus [Antiquities, 17.6.1,5,7,8].

that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying—(Ho 11:1).

Out of Egypt have I called my son—Our Evangelist here quotes directly from the Hebrew, warily departing from the Septuagint, which renders the words, "From Egypt have I recalled his children," meaning Israel's children. The prophet is reminding his people how dear Israel was to God in the days of his youth; how Moses was bidden to say to Pharaoh, "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, My first-born; and I say unto thee, Let My son go, that he may serve Me; and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy first-born" (Ex 4:22, 23); how, when Pharaoh refused, God having slain all his first-born, "called His own son out of Egypt," by a stroke of high-handed power and love. Viewing the words in this light, even if our Evangelist had not applied them to the recall from Egypt of God's own beloved, Only-begotten Son, the application would have been irresistibly made by all who have learnt to pierce beneath the surface to the deeper relations which Christ bears to His people, and both to God; and who are accustomed to trace the analogy of God's treatment of each respectively.

Ver. 14,15. True faith, or assent to a Divine revelation, always produces obedience to the precept of it. Thus it did in the wise men, thus in Joseph. Thus every where in holy writ. By which we may learn, that they indeed believe not the Scriptures to be the word of God, who take no care to live up to the rule of life prescribed in them. Joseph not only obeyed, but readily and presently obeyed:

When he arose, he took the young Child and his mother. The poverty of our Saviour’s parents is not obscurely gathered from this hasty motion of Joseph. His motion was not delayed for the packing up of goods, gathering in of debts, &c; if he lost any thing by his haste, yet he carried with him the promise and special care of God for him and his. Yet he moveth prudentially, and therefore he begins his journey

by night, when least notice could be taken of his motion. We are not to put God upon working miracles for our preservation, though we have never so many sure promises, when it may be obtained in the use of means. They are God’s security given to creatures, whom he hath endued with reason, and expressed that we should use it, while we yet trust in his word. We are not told into what part of Egypt Joseph went, nor how long he stayed there: some say six or seven years; others, but three or four months. The text saith he

was there until the death of Herod. Some say that was before the paschal solemnity that year. But these things are great uncertainties. It is certain he stayed there till Herod died, but when that certainly was we know not, nor is it material for us to be curious in inquiring.

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, Out of Egypt have I called my Son. That it might be fulfilled is a phrase we often meet with in the New Testament, to declare the harmony of Scripture, and the faithfulness of God in fulfilling the prophecies or promises of the Old Testament. Spanhemius tells us: "The Scripture is said to be fulfilled properly or improperly." Properly two ways, either literally or mystically. Improperly, secondarily, when some such like thing happeneth as was before foretold or spoken of, or an example is brought parallel to some former example. Literally the Scripture is said to be fulfilled;

1. When a thing before prophesied of, or promised, cometh to pass. Thus the prophecy, Isaiah 7:14, was literally fulfilled Matthew 1:23; so Micah 5:2 was literally fulfilled Matthew 2:6, by Christ’s being born in Bethlehem; so Zechariah 9:9 was literally fulfilled Matthew 21:5. Or else;

2. When the type is fulfilled in the antitype. Thus we read of many scriptures of the Old Testament fulfilled in Christ, several things about the paschal lamb, the brazen serpent, Solomon, David, Jonah, &c. Improperly the Scripture is said to be fulfilled, when any thing is reported as done, which bear a proportion to something before recorded in holy writ, as spoken or done: thus Christ applies the same thing to the hypocrites which lived in his time, Matthew 15:7,8, which Isaiah spoke of those who lived in his time, Isaiah 29:13 so Matthew 13:14 Isaiah 6:9: this divines call a fulfilling per accommodationem, aut transumptionem.

The question is, whether this scripture, which is Hosea 11:1, was fulfilled in Christ’s being carried into Egypt, properly or improperly. There is a great variety of opinions; those possibly judge best who think that the Israelites going into and coming out of Egypt, was a type of Christ’s going into Egypt, being preserved there, and coming out again. Matthew saith the scripture was fulfilled, whether properly or improperly is not much material for us to know. I have only added thus much to shorten my discourse hereafter where we shall meet with this phrase.

And was there until the death of Herod,.... Which was in a very short time; for Eusebius (i) says, that immediately, in a very little time after the slaughter of the children at Bethlehem, the divine vengeance inflicted diseases on him, which quickly brought him to his end; so that, according to the learned Dr. Lightfoot (k), Jesus was not above three or four months in Egypt. Now all this was brought about,

that it might be fulfilled; not by way of accommodation of phrases to a like event; or by way of type, which has a fresh completion in the antitype; or as a proverbial sentence which might be adapted to any remarkable deliverance out of hardship, misery and destruction; but literally, properly, and in the obvious sense thereof;

which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, not Balaam, in Numbers 23:22 or Numbers 24:8 but in Hosea 11:1 "when Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt": the meaning of which passage is, either in connection with the last clause of the foregoing chapter thus; "in a morning shall the king of Israel be cut off", "because Israel is a child", a rebellious and disobedient one, acting a very weak and wicked part; "yet I have loved him, or do love him", and "have called", or "will call", (the past tense for the future, frequent in the Hebrew language, especially in the prophetic writings,) "my son out of Egypt"; who will be obliged to retire there for some time; I will make him king, set him upon the throne, who shall execute justice, and reign for ever and ever; or thus, "because Israel is a child", helpless and imprudent, and "I love him", though he is so, "therefore l will call", or I have determined to call

my son out of Egypt: who through a tyrant's rage and malice will be obliged to abide there a while; yet I will bring him from thence into the land of Judea, where he shall live and "help" my "servant", (l), "child Israel"; shall instruct him in his duty, teach him the doctrines of the Gospel, and at last, by his sufferings and death, procure for him the pardon of all his transgressions; of which there is a particular enumeration in Matthew 2:3. This is the natural and unconstrained sense of these words, which justifies the Evangelist in his citation and application of them to Christ's going to Egypt, and his return from thence, as I have elsewhere (m) shown.

(i) Hist. Eccl. l. 1. c. 8. p. 25, 26. (k) Harmony of the New Testament, p. 6. (l) Luke i. 54. (m) Prophecies of the Messiah, &c. p. 123, &c.

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.
Matthew 2:15. Τὸν υἱόν μου] refers in Hosea 11:1 (quoted according to the original text) to the people of Israel (Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9). The Septuagint has τὰ τέκνα αὐτοῦ (Israelis). Upon the ἵνα πληρωθῇ, see on Matthew 1:22. Here it refers to the arrival of Jesus in Egypt and His residence there, which could not but take place as an antitype to the historical meaning of Hosea 11:1, in order that that declaration of the prophet might receive its Messianic fulfilment.

Matthew 2:15. καὶ ἧν ἐκεῖ, etc.: the stay in Egypt cannot have been long, only a few months, prohably, before the death of Herod (Nösgen).—ἵνα πληρωθῇ: another prophetic reference, this time proceeding directly from the evangelist; Hosea 11:1, given after the Hebrew, not the Sept[8], which for בְנִי has τέκνα αὐτοῦ. The oracle states a historical fact, and can therefore only be a typical prophecy. The event in the life of the infant Jesus may seem an insignificant fulfilment. Not so did it appear to the evangelist. For him all events in the life of the Christ possessed transcendent significance. Was it an event at all? criticism asks. Did the fact suggest the prophetic reference, or did the prophecy create the fact? In reply, be it said that the narratives in this chapter of the Infancy all hang together. If any one of them occurred, all might occur. The main question is, is Herod’s solicitude credible? If so, then the caution of the Magi, the flight to Egypt, the massacre at Bethlehem, the return at the tyrant’s death to Nazareth, are all equally credible.

[8] Septuagint.

15. until the death of Herod] According to the chronology adopted above this would be for a space of less than two years.

that it might be fulfilled] See note on ch. Matthew 1:22.

Out of Egypt have I called my son] Better, I called my son. The history of Israel is regarded as typical of the Messiah’s life. He alone gives significance to that history. He is the true seed of Abraham. In Him the blessing promised to Abraham finds its highest fulfilment. (See Lightfoot on Galatians 3:16.) Even particular incidents in the Gospel narrative have their counterpart in the O.T. history. Accordingly St Matthew, who naturally reverts to this thought more constantly than the other Evangelists, from the very nature of his gospel, recognises in this incident an analogy to the call of Israel from Egypt.

The quotation is again from the original Hebrew of Hosea 11:2, and again the LXX. differs considerably. Cp. Exodus 4:22-23 : “Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me.”

Matthew 2:15. Αέγοντος, saying) This must be construed with τοῦ προφήτου, the prophet, and so also in Matthew 2:17.—ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν Μου, out of Egypt have I called my Son) Thus Hosea 11:1, in the original Hebrew, though the LXX. render it, ἐξ Αἰγύπτου μετεκάλεσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτοῦ, out of Egypt have I called for (summoned) his children. Aquila,[96] however, renders it ἀπὸ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱὸν Μου, From Egypt have I called [him] My son. The meaning of the passage in Hosea is, “Then when Israel was a child, I loved him: and from the time that he was in Egypt, I called him my son.” This is evident from the parallelism of either clause. And the expression, “from the land of Egypt,” occurs in the same sense in Hosea 12:9; Hosea 13:4; and from the Egyptian era, Israel began to be called the son of God; see Exodus 4:22, etc. And God is always said to have led forth, never to have called, His people out of Egypt. In like manner, St Matthew also. when interpreting the passage of the Messiah, and that, too, of Him when a child, connects the quotation with His sojourn in, rather than His return from, Egypt.—Cf. Isaiah 19:19. Jesus, from His birth, was the Son of God; and immediately after His nativity, He dwelt in Egypt. It behoved, however, that the Messiah, as well as the people, should return from Egypt into the land of promise, for the same reason, viz., because God loved each of them, and called him His Son. The sojourn of Christ in Egypt was the prelude to the Christianization of that country; see Deuteronomy 23:7. In the first ages of Christianity, the Egyptian Church was greatly distinguished: perhaps it will be so again hereafter: cf. Isaiah 19:24-25. Concerning the double fulfilment of the single meaning of a single prophecy, cf. Gnomon on ch. Matthew 1:22. In short, God embraced in one address, as with one love, both the Messiah Himself, in whom is all His good pleasure, and His people for His sake. The Messiah resembles His people in His adversity; His people resembles the Messiah in its prosperity. The head and the body are the whole Christ. Moreover, when His people was in Egypt, Jesus Christ was there also in one of those patriarchs who are enumerated in ch. Matthew 1:4.—Cf. Hebrews 7:10.

[96] A native of Sinope, in Pontus, of Jewish descent, who flourished in the second century of the Christian æra. Having renounced Christianity, he undertook to execute a new translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek.—(I. B.)

Verse 15. - And was there until the death of Herod. The Revised Version rightly joins this with the preceding, not with the following, clause. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying (Matthew 1:22, notes), Out of Egypt have I called (Revised Version, did I call) my Son (Hosea 11:1, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt"). Observe here:

(1) The quotation is not from the LXX. ("Out of Egypt I summoned his children"), but from the Hebrew, which Aquila also follows.

(2) The expression in Hosea is based on Exodus 4:22, "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my firstborn;" cf. also Wisd. 18:13. "They acknowledged this people to be the son of God (ὡμολόγησαν Θεοῦ υἱὸν λαὸνεϊναι)."

(3) The quotation is, by the context, evidently adduced, not to prove the sonship of Jesus, but to enlarge upon the treatment that he received. The fundamental thought is that the experience of Messiah was parallel to the experience of the nation.

(4) The application of the term "my Son" to Messiah is justified by Jewish thought. In Exodus 4:22 the nation was so called; in Psalm 2:7 the head of the nation, the theocratic king, received the same title; much more could the great theocratic King, the Messiah, be so spoken cf. That, indeed, the name, "the Son of God," was used as a title of Messiahship by the Jews lacks direct evidence (cf. Stanton, 'The Jewish and the Christian Messiah,' 1886, p. 288), but is surely to be deduced from Matthew 26:63 (16:16); cf. also the application of Psalm 2:7 to Messiah in Talm. Bab.,' Succah,' 52 a, in the late Midrash 'Tillim,' in loc., which traces" the decree" there spoken of through the Law (Exodus 4:22), the prophets (e.g.. Isaiah 52:13), and the Hagiographa (e.g. Psalm 2:7; Psalm 110:1; for a paraphrase, cf. Edersheim, 'Life,' etc., App. 9.). It is hardly too much to say that no Jew could consistently, either in the early days of the Church or now, find any difficulty in St. Matthew's reference of the term "my Son" to Christ.

(5) Seeing that St. Matthew's reference of the term "my Son" is justified by Jewish thought, and that the passage in Hosea is adduced to show that the experience of Messiah was parallel to that of the nation, there seems no real need to look for further reasons for the application. St. Matthew may hays held that Messiah was the Flower of Israel, so that what was predicated of Israel could be essentially explained of Messiah; he may have considered that Messiah was so organically connected with Israel that even when the nation was in Egypt Messiah was there also (cf. Hebrews 7:10; Hebrews 11:26); he may have thought that the pro-incarnate Son of God was always with his Church, and therefore with it even in Egypt; but of none of these theories have we any hint. The application of Hosea 11:1 to the early life of Christ belongs, we do not doubt, to the very earliest stage of Jewish Christian thought, and to defend it by modern subtleties of interpretation (sound though they may be in other connexions) seems quite out of place. Messiah was in some sense, as all Jews granted, the Son of God; Messiah, like the nation, went down into Egypt; what was predicated of the one was, clearly in this case, true of the other, and the prophet's words received a "fulfilment." The fulfilment was, indeed, what we should call a coincidence (cf. ver. 23, note), but to the pious mind, and especially to the pious mind of a Jew, coincidences are not chances, they are signs of the Divine Governor (cf. Bishop Westcott, 'Hebr.,' p. 481: 1889). Matthew 2:15
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