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Epiphany:  Visit of the Magi



Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt

   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  Matthew 2:13



















Quotes & Notes on:    Matthew 2:13-15

  • John Wesley's Notes:
    Vs 15
    That it might be fulfilled-That is, whereby was fulfilled. The original word frequently signifies, not the design of an action, but barely the consequence or event of it.

    Which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet-on another occasion:

    Out of Egypt have I called my Son-which was now fulfilled as it were anew; Christ being in a far higher sense the Son of God than Israel, of whom the words were originally spoken. Ho 11:1.

  • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:

    • Vs 13
      * the angel. Mt 2:19; 1:20; Ac 5:19; 10:7; 12:11; Heb 1:13,14
      * Arise. Mt 10:23; Re 12:6,14
      * until. Mt 2:19,20; Jos 3:13; 4:10,18; Da 3:25,26; Ac 16:36
      * for. Mt 2:16; Ex 1:22; 2:2,3; Job 33:15,17; Ac 7:19; Re 12:4

    • Vs 14
       Mt 2:20; 1:24; Ac 26:21

    • Vs 15
      * until. Mt 2:19; Ac 12:1-4,23,24
      * that. Mt 2:17; 1:22; 4:14; 8:17; 12:16-18; 21:4; 26:54; 27:35; Lu 24:44 Joh 19:28,36; Ac 1:16
      * Out. Ex 4:22; Nu 24:8; Ho 11:1

  • Adam Clarke's Commentary:

    • Vs 13
       Flee into Egypt] Many Jews had settled in Egypt; not only those who had fled thither in the time of Jeremiah, see Jer. 48; but many others who had settled there also, on account of the temple which Onias IV. had built at Heliopolis. Those who could speak the Greek tongue enjoyed many advantages in that country: besides, they had the Greek version of the Septuagint, which had been translated nearly 300 years before this time. Egypt was now a Roman province, and the rage of Herod could not pursue the holy family to this place. There is an apocryphal work in Arabic, called the Gospel of the infancy, which pretends to relate all the acts of Jesus and Mary while in Egypt. I have taken the pains to read this through, and have found it to be a piece of gross superstition, having nothing to entitle it to a shadow of credibility.

    • Vs 15
      Out of Egypt have I called my son.] This is quoted from Ho 11:1, where the deliverance of Israel, and that only, is referred to. But as that deliverance was extraordinary, it is very likely that it had passed into a proverb, so that "Out of Egypt have I called my son," might have been used to express any signal deliverance. I confess, I can see no other reference it can have to the case in hand, unless we suppose, which is possible, that God might have referred to this future bringing up of his son Jesus from Egypt, under the type of the past deliverance of Israel from the same land. Midrash Tehillin, on Ps 2:7, has these remarkable words: I will publish a decree: this decree has been published in the Law, in the Prophets, and in the Hagiographia. In the Law, Israel is my first-born son: Ex 4:22. In the Prophets, Behold, my servant shall deal prudently: Isa 52:13. In the Hagiographia, The Lord said unto my lord: Ps 110:1. All these passages the Jews refer to the Messiah. See Schoetgen.

  • Family Bible Notes:

    • Vs 13
       Those who conscientiously follow the light which they have, will receive, in the use of proper means, all the light they need.

    • Vs 15
      Out of Egypt have I called my Son; originally spoken by the prophet Ho 11:1; of the Israelitish nation as God's Son. But it was the appointment of God that in this, as in so many other things, the history of Christ's body the church should foreshadow his own personal history.

  • 1599 Geneva Bible Notes:
    Vs 13
      Christ having just been born, begins to be crucified for us, both in himself, and also in his members.

  • People's New Testament Commentary:

    • Vs 13
        And when they were departed. It is probable that the Magi were led by the star to Bethlehem, offered their homage, departed, Joseph was warned, and the holy family started to Egypt, all the same night.

      Flee into Egypt. Egypt has a very intimate connection with Bible history. It was the nearest of Roman provinces independent of Herod, was the home of thousands of Joseph's countrymen, was the home of thousands of Joseph's countrymen, and was convenient for a return at the proper time.

    • Vs 15
      That it might be fulfilled, . . . Out of Egypt have I called my Son. The prophecy here quoted is found in Ho 11:1. Israel, which was called out of Egypt, is spoken of a son. Israel, however, was a type, and the events portrayed in Israelitish history were typical prophecies. That was the dispensation of types and shadows. Hence, the great outlines were prophetic, and the calling of Israel out of Egypt a prophecy of the Leader of the true Israel being called out of that land.

  • Robertson's Word Pictures:
    Vs 15
         Until the death of Herod (heôs tęs teleutęs Hęrôidou). The Magi had been warned in a dream not to report to Herod and now Joseph was warned in a dream to take Mary and the child along (mellei zętein tou apolesai gives a vivid picture of the purpose of Herod in these three verbs). In Egypt Joseph was to keep Mary and Jesus till the death of Herod the monster. Matthew quotes Ho 11:1 to show that this was in fulfilment of God's purpose to call his Son out of Egypt. He may have quoted again from a collection of testimonia rather than from the Septuagint. There is a Jewish tradition in the Talmud that Jesus "brought with him magic arts out of Egypt in an incision on his body" (Shabb. 104b). "This attempt to ascribe the Lord's miracles to Satanic agency seems to be independent of Matthew, and may have been known to him, so that one object of his account may have been to combat it" (McNeile).

  • Albert Barnes' Commentary:

    • Vs 13
        Flee into Egypt. Egypt is situated to the south-west of Judea, and is distant from Bethlehem perhaps about sixty miles. It was at this time a Roman province. The Greek language was spoken there. There were many Jews there, who had a temple and synagogues; 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 Barnes for Isa 19:1. 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.

      {b} "for Herod" Job 33:15,17

    • Vs 15
      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 determined at what age Jesus was taken into Egypt. It seems probable that he was supposed to be a year old, (Mt 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 Barnes for Mt 2:16; also Josephus, Ant. xvii. 10.

      That it might be fulfilled, etc. This language is recorded in Ho 11:1. It there evidently speaks of God's calling his people out of Egypt under Moses. See Ex 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 Barnes for Mt 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, but was only used by Matthew appropriately to express the event.

      {c} "Out of Egypt" Ho 11:1

  • Jamieson-Faussett Brown:

    • Vs 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.

    • Vs 14
      When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt--doubtless the same night.

    • Vs 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.

  • Spurgeon Commentary:

    • Vs 13
      Angels were busy in those days, for they had special charge of their Royal Master. Joseph’s high office, as guardian of the young child and his mother, involved him in care, and made him an exile from his country. We cannot expect to serve the Lord, and yet have an easy time of it. We must cheerfully journey across a desert if we have a charge to keep for our God;  and we must tarry in banishment, if need be, and never venture to come back till the Lord sends us our passports. Our orders are, “Be thou there until I bring thee word.” The Lord’s servants must wait for the Lord’s word before they make a move, whether it be to go abroad or to come
      home. Waiting is hard work, especially waiting in Egypt; but it is safe to tarry till we have our marching orders.

    • Vs 14
       Providence both watched over the safety of the Lord, and enabled Joseph to support the mother and child by the offerings of the eastern sages. In the same manner is the church the peculiar care of heaven in all its persecutions and needs.

  • William Burkitt's Notes:

    • Vs 13
      Observe here, 1. Our Lord's humiliation, by persecution in the very morning of his life; he was banished almost as soon as born. Flee into Egypt, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

      Ungrateful Herod! Was this entertainment for a Savior? What! raise the country upon Christ, as if a destroyer, rather than a Savior, had landed upon thy coasts! Oh! barbarous injustice! to deny a subject the protection of those laws under which he was born: the child of a beggar might claim that as his birthright, which was here denied to the Son of God.

      Lord! how great an humiliation was this, not only to become an infant, but in thine infancy to be hurried up and down, and driven out of thine own land as a vagabond!

      Observe, 2. How our Lord himself in a time of persecution flies for safety, who was able a thousand ways to have preserved himself from the danger: teaching us that in times of difficulty and danger, 'tis neither unwarrantable nor unbecoming to preserve our lives by flight; surely 'tis no shame for us to fly, when our Captian doth both practise it and command it also. Christ by his own example hath sanctified that state of life unto us, and by his command has made it lawful for us.

      Observe, 3. The place which Christ flies unto for safety, and that is Egypt: an unlikely place, considered in itself; who could expect liberty in that house of bondage? But any place is good, if God sends us thither, and Christ be in our company. His presence can make Egypt itself not only safe, but delightful also.

      Observe, 4. How readily Joseph complies with the divine command: instantly he arose, and took the young child, and fled. Faith gave wings to his obedience, and instantly vanquished all his fears, and afforded a fuller supply than all the treasures of the Arabian princes.

      Teaching us, That when our direction is clear, our compliance is speedy. We cannot be too forward and expeditious in the execution of divine commands.

      Observe, 5. Though Joseph at the divine command of God flies presently from Herod's rage, yet he flies privately, by night, and prudently begins his journey when least notice should be taken of his motion:

      Teaching us, That although we have never so many promises of safety and deliverance, yet we must not put God upon working miracles for our preservation, when it may be obtained in the use of means.

  • Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

    • Vs 13
      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.

  • The Fourfold Gospel:

    •  Vs 13
      Now when they were departed. The text favors the idea that the arrival and departure of the magi and the departure of Joseph for Egypt, all occurred in one night. If so, the people of Bethlehem knew nothing of these matters.

      Arise. This command calls for immediate departure.

      And flee into Egypt. This land was ever the refuge of Israel when fleeing from famine and oppression. One hundred miles in a direct line from Bethlehem would carry Joseph well over the border of Egypt. Two hundred miles would bring him to the river Nile. In Egypt he would find friends, possibly acquaintances. There were at that time about one million Jews in the Nile valley. In Alexandria, a city of three hundred thousand, from one-fifth to two-fifths of the population were Jews, two of the five wards being given over to them; and the Talmud describes how, in its great synagogue, all the men of like craft or trade sat together. Thus Joseph might there find fellow-craftsmen, as did Paul in Corinth (Ac 18:3).

      For Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. Thus joy at the honor of the magi's visit and worship gives place to terror at the wrath of Herod. The quiet days at Bethlehem are followed by a night of fear and flight. The parents of Jesus were experiencing those conflicting joys and sorrows which characterize the lives of all who have to do with Christ (Mr 10:30; 2Ti 3:12).

    •  Vs 14
      And was there until the death of Herod. As Herod died soon after the flight to Egypt, the sojourn of the family of Jesus in that land must have been brief, for they returned after his death.

      That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord. The message is the Lord's, the words and voice are the prophet's.

      Through the prophet. See Ho 11:1.

      Out of Egypt did I call my son. This prophecy, no doubt, had a primary reference to the Exodus, and was an echo of the words of Moses at Ex 4:22,23. In their type and antitype relationship the Old and New Testaments may be likened to the shell and kernel of a nut. Israel was Israel, and God's Son, because it included in itself the yet unformed and unborn body which was later to be inhabited by the spirit of the Word or Son of God. The seed of Abraham was called out of Egypt, that the promised seed enveloped within it might have a body and nature prepared in the land of liberty, and not in that of bondage. Israel was the outer shell, and Christ the kernel, hence the double significance of the prophecy--the twice repeated movement of the nation and the Man.

    • Vs 15
      And departed into Egypt. What a criticism upon Israel when Egypt, the house of bondage, the seat of tyranny, the land of the immemorial enemies of God's people, was regarded as a place of refuge from its ruler. Jesus was saved by flight. God invariably prefers the ordinary to the extraordinary means.






Sidebar Study:  Childhood Through Early Manhood of Jesus


Updated:   Wednesday, March 06, 2013 at 03:51 AM



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