A Sudden Trip to Egypt and a Home in Nazareth
When we left off, the Magi, because of a message from God in a dream, left the house where the infant Messiah was staying in Bethlehem and returned home without going back to tell Herod where the child could be found. It would seem that almost immediately after they departed, Joseph had another word from an angel in a dream telling him to flee from Bethlehem with his family and go directly to Egypt, because of the plot of Herod to kill the baby.
Joseph obeyed without hesitation.
Matthew doesn’t give us any more detail than that. I too have traveled from Bethlehem to Egypt; I took a bus. What method of travel did Joseph employ: a bus, a train… or maybe a donkey or a camel or on foot? Where did they end up in Egypt? I went straight to Cairo; Egypt is a pretty big place, but we have no information from Matthew…
What we should remember is that Matthew is not writing a travel story, he’s showing us who the baby was, for He was a rather special little Person. Egypt had long been a place for political refugees in Israel to go to when in danger (cf. 1 Kings 11:40; 2 Kings 25:26; Jer. 41:16-18; 26:21; 43:1-7). We begin to see what Matthew is up to in verse 15, for rather than tell us any details of their flight; he tells us that this fulfills the words of Hosea: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hos. 11:1).
Next, in verse 16, we find out how terrible a plot Herod had in mind; he would have all boys 2 and under murdered… in fulfillment of yet another prophecy, this time it’s Jer. 31:15:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (v. 18)
Do you see what Matthew is doing here? He really isn’t giving us a historical narrative of the life of a very young Christ at this point; he is pointing out who He is.