And 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 by the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matthew.2:14-15).
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night. He dreamed; he awakened; and apparently left in the middle of the night. Some suggest that perhaps he awakened in the morning, prepared all day and left the next night. Let’s remember that they didn’t have to pack a van and work through a lengthy check list of things to take; make sandwiches, etc. They could have placed everything they had on the back of their donkey in a few minutes and have been miles away before the sun came up.
Did they travel only by night? They left Bethlehem at night. The Israelites left Egypt by night and God kept every single dog from barking. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. (Exodus 11:7)
I have walked at night and the dogs at every house barked at me and disturbed the other dogs on that street. If God shuts the mouths of the dogs (as He did the mouths of the lions when Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den), then, barking dogs would not have been a problem for Joseph and Mary leaving Bethlehem by night. The Bible doesn’t say, but this is something to consider as we think it through.
They would have used a well-traveled road with houses along the road. Traveling a busy road in daytime would have made them safer from robbers along the way. They would have thought “natural” thoughts about safety and utility until the Lord told them to think otherwise. Did the angel of the Lord go along with them? If an angel was needed we can be sure of it but we do not read of any danger encountered by them for this trip.
Their greatest danger was in the immediate vicinity of Bethlehem. By leaving the greatest danger zone, they would have been free to travel during the daytime for the rest of the journey. The map in my Bible looks like it’s about 150 miles from Bethlehem to Alexandria, Egypt. If they traveled twenty miles a day, it would have taken about a week. With a toddler on-board, they could not have been fast travelers and may not have traveled but ten miles a day. That would have been two weeks, or so.
When Jacob went back home to meet his brother Esau, he said to him: My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir. (Genesis 33:13-14)
If the wise men came around the end of December, made a short visit and left, it would have been warmer for Joseph and Mary and Jesus to have traveled by day. They would have slept at night on the ground. Even so, we are told today by modern travel agencies on the Internet that the climate there is not unbearably cold except in the highlands.
Departed into Egypt:
“The Jews say that Jesus went to Alexandria in Egypt, and which is probable enough; since this was a place greatly resorted to at this time by Jews, and where provision was made for their sustenance; " (Gill)
AND WAS THERE UNTIL THE DEATH OF HEROD..... Which was a very short time; “for Eusebius 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, Jesus was not above three or four months in Egypt. (Gill)
So, the time that he remained in Egypt was not long. Herod died of a most painful and loathsome disease in Jericho. See Josephus, Ant. xvii. 6. 5. (Barnes).
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. (Barnes)
This too, is part of the Christmas story. Just for the record: Santa Claus did NOT go with Joseph and Mary and Jesus down into Egypt. Sorry if there is a misunderstanding. Ω
●This article has been edited and reprinted from Good Morning! December 24, 2007.
Read Through the Bible in a Year
DECEMBER 22, 2017 - FRIDAY
A.M. Nahum 1-3 P.M. Revelation 13
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
A Good Verse to Memorize:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:13-14)
Song for Today:
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem (3:41) (Ben Speer and Gaither Group)
Note: This is one of those songs I could sing every day. We plan to have a trio sing it Sunday morning at Sulphur Springs. My mother loved it. I hope our great-grand-children will know it and love it.
(You may have to adjust the volume and delete an ad.)