Flight into Egypt

Flight into Egypt

Overview
The flight into Egypt is a biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 event described in the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 (Matthew 2:13
Matthew 2:13
Matthew 2:13 is the thirteenth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The magi have left after paying homage to the young Jesus. In this verse an angel warns Joseph that he must flee....

-23
Matthew 2:23
Matthew 2:23 is the twenty-third verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The young Jesus and the Holy Family have just returned from Egypt and in this verse are said to settle in Nazareth. This is the final verse of Matthew's infancy narrative...

), in which Joseph
Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the earthly father of Jesus Christ ....

 fled to Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 with his wife Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

 and infant son Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 after a visit by Magi
Biblical Magi
The Magi Greek: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the Wise Men, Kings, Astrologers, or Kings from the East, were a group of distinguished foreigners who were said to have visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh...

 because they learn that King Herod intends to kill the infants of that area. The episode is frequently shown in art, as the final episode of the Nativity of Jesus in art
Nativity of Jesus in art
The Nativity of Jesus has been a major subject of Christian art since the 4th century. The artistic depictions of the Nativity or birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas, are based on the narratives in the Bible, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and further elaborated by written, oral and...

, and was a common component in cycles of the Life of the Virgin
Life of the Virgin
The Life of the Virgin, showing narrative scenes from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a common subject for pictorial cycles in Christian art, often complementing, or forming part of, a cycle on the Life of Christ. In both cases the number of scenes shown varies greatly with the space...

 as well as the Life of Christ
Life of Christ
The Life of Christ as a narrative cycle in Christian art comprises a number of different subjects, which were often grouped in series or cycles of works in a variety of media, narrating the life of Jesus on earth, as distinguished from the many other subjects in art showing the eternal life of...

.

When the Magi come in search of Jesus, they go to Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 in Jerusalem and ask where to find the newborn "King of the Jews".
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The flight into Egypt is a biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 event described in the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 (Matthew 2:13
Matthew 2:13
Matthew 2:13 is the thirteenth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The magi have left after paying homage to the young Jesus. In this verse an angel warns Joseph that he must flee....

-23
Matthew 2:23
Matthew 2:23 is the twenty-third verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The young Jesus and the Holy Family have just returned from Egypt and in this verse are said to settle in Nazareth. This is the final verse of Matthew's infancy narrative...

), in which Joseph
Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the earthly father of Jesus Christ ....

 fled to Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 with his wife Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

 and infant son Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 after a visit by Magi
Biblical Magi
The Magi Greek: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the Wise Men, Kings, Astrologers, or Kings from the East, were a group of distinguished foreigners who were said to have visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh...

 because they learn that King Herod intends to kill the infants of that area. The episode is frequently shown in art, as the final episode of the Nativity of Jesus in art
Nativity of Jesus in art
The Nativity of Jesus has been a major subject of Christian art since the 4th century. The artistic depictions of the Nativity or birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas, are based on the narratives in the Bible, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and further elaborated by written, oral and...

, and was a common component in cycles of the Life of the Virgin
Life of the Virgin
The Life of the Virgin, showing narrative scenes from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a common subject for pictorial cycles in Christian art, often complementing, or forming part of, a cycle on the Life of Christ. In both cases the number of scenes shown varies greatly with the space...

 as well as the Life of Christ
Life of Christ
The Life of Christ as a narrative cycle in Christian art comprises a number of different subjects, which were often grouped in series or cycles of works in a variety of media, narrating the life of Jesus on earth, as distinguished from the many other subjects in art showing the eternal life of...

.

Matthew's gospel account


When the Magi come in search of Jesus, they go to Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 in Jerusalem and ask where to find the newborn "King of the Jews". Herod becomes paranoid
Paranoia
Paranoia [] is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself...

 that the child will threaten his throne, and seeks to kill him . Herod initiates the Massacre of the Innocents
Massacre of the Innocents
The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew Herod orders the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth...

 in hopes of killing the child (Matthew 2:16
Matthew 2:16
Matthew 2:16 is the sixteenth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament.Joseph and Mary had been visited by an angel and told that Herod would attempt to kill Jesus, their son. Doing as told, they took their infant son and fled by night into Egypt, where they stayed...

-Matthew 2:18
Matthew 2:18
Matthew 2:18 is the eighteenth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Herod has ordered the Massacre of the Innocents and this verse quotes from the Book of Jeremiah to show that this event was predicted by the prophets....

). But an angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

 appears to Joseph and warns Joseph to take Jesus and his mother into Egypt (Matthew 2:13
Matthew 2:13
Matthew 2:13 is the thirteenth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The magi have left after paying homage to the young Jesus. In this verse an angel warns Joseph that he must flee....

).

Egypt was a logical place to find refuge, as it was outside the dominions of King Herod, but both Egypt and Palestine were part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, making travel between them easy and relatively safe.

Return from Egypt


After a time Joseph and the others return from Egypt, the text stating that their enemies having died. Herod is believed to have died in 4 BC, and while Matthew doesn't mention how, the Jewish historian Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 vividly relates a gory death.

The land they return to is identified as Israel, the only place in the entire New Testament where Israel unambiguously acts as a geographic description of the whole of Judah and Galilee Matthew 2:20, rather than as referring to a collection of religious people or the Jewish people in general. It is however Judah that they are described as initially returning to, although upon discovering that Archelaus
Herod Archelaus
Herod Archelaus was the ethnarch of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea from 4 BC to 6 AD. He was the son of Herod the Great and Malthace the Samaritan, the brother of Herod Antipas, and the half-brother of Herod Philip I....

 had become the new king of Judah, they fled to Galilee. Historically, Archelaus was such a violent and aggressive king that in year 6 he was deposed
Deposition (politics)
Deposition by political means concerns the removal of a politician or monarch. It may be done by coup, impeachment, invasion or forced abdication...

 by the Romans, in response to complaints from the population. Galilee was ruled by a much calmer king, Herod Antipas
Herod Antipas
Herod Antipater , known by the nickname Antipas, was a 1st-century AD ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch...

, and there is historical evidence that Galilee had become a refuge for those fleeing the iron rule of Archelaus.

Prophecy of Hosea


Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 Matthew 2:15
Matthew 2:15
Matthew 2:15 is the fifteenth verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Joseph has taken Jesus and his family to Egypt to flee the wrath of King Herod.In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:-References:...

 cites Hosea
Hosea
Hosea was the son of Beeri and a prophet in Israel in the 8th century BC. He is one of the Twelve Prophets of the Jewish Hebrew Bible, also known as the Minor Prophets of the Christian Old Testament. Hosea is often seen as a "prophet of doom", but underneath his message of destruction is a promise...

  as prophetically fulfilled in the return of Joseph, Mary and Jesus from Egypt:
"... and out of Egypt I called My son".


Matthew's use of Hosea 11:1 has been explained in several ways. A sensus plenior
Sensus plenior
In Latin, the phrase sensus plenior means "a fuller sense of.". This phrase in Biblical exegesis, is used to describe the deeper meaning intended by God but not intended by the human author. Walter C. Kaiser notes that F. Andre Fernandez coined the term in 1927, but it was popularized by Raymond E....

 approach states that the text in Hosea contains a meaning intended by God and acknowledged by Matthew, but unknown to Hosea. A typological
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 reading interprets the fulfillment as found in the national history of Israel and the antitypical fulfillment as found an event in the personal history of Jesus. Matthew's use of typological interpretation may also be seen in his use of Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

  and , and Jeremiah
Jeremiah
Jeremiah Hebrew:יִרְמְיָה , Modern Hebrew:Yirməyāhū, IPA: jirməˈjaːhu, Tiberian:Yirmĭyahu, Greek:Ἰερεμίας), meaning "Yahweh exalts", or called the "Weeping prophet" was one of the main prophets of the Hebrew Bible...

 .

Another reading of Hosea's prophetic declaration is that it only recounts God summoning of the nation of Israel out of Egypt during the Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

, referring to Israel as God's son in accordance with Moses' declaration to Pharaoh:
"Israel is my first-born son; let my son go, that he may serve me" .
The MT reads my son, whereas the LXX reads his sons; the MT is to be retained, the singular being both consonant with the singulars in Hosea 11:1 and with the reference to Exodus 4:22-23, and the LXX reading is to be explained as having been made to conform to the plurals of , they and them.

See also Hermeneutics and Jewish exegesis
Pardes (Jewish exegesis)
Pardes refers to approaches to biblical exegesis in rabbinic Judaism . The term, sometimes also spelled PaRDeS, is an acronym formed from the name initials of the following four approaches:...

.

Extra-biblical accounts



Matthew's account is the only biblical reference to this flight, although there are many traditions about it reported in the New Testament apocrypha
New Testament apocrypha
The New Testament apocrypha are a number of writings by early Christians that claim to be accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. These writings often have links with books regarded as "canonical"...

. These later works have a number of miraculous stories occurring on the voyage, with, for example, palm trees bowing before the infant Jesus, the beasts of the desert paying him homage, and an encounter with the two thieves that would later be crucified alongside Jesus. In these later tales the family is joined by Salome
Salome (disciple)
Salome , sometimes venerated as Mary Salome, was a follower of Jesus who appears briefly in the canonical gospels and in more detail in apocryphal writings...

 as Jesus' nurse. Matthew gives little detail about Jesus' family's time in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, but there are a number of apocryphal tales filling in this period. These stories of the time in Egypt have been especially important to the Coptic Church, which is based in Egypt.

Throughout Egypt there are a number of churches and shrines that claim to mark an area where the family stayed. The most important of these is the church of Abu Serghis
Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (Abu Serga)
Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church, also known as Abu Serga, in Coptic Cairo is one of the oldest Coptic churches in Egypt, dating back to the 4th century.-Importance:...

 that claims to be built on the place the family had its home.

Historicity


Robert Funk
Robert W. Funk
Robert W. Funk , an American biblical scholar, was co-founder of the controversial Jesus Seminar and the nonprofit Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, California....

 of the Jesus Seminar
Jesus Seminar
The Jesus Seminar is a group of about 150 critical scholars and laymen founded in 1985 by Robert Funk under the auspices of the Westar Institute....

 has suggested that both Luke's and Matthew's birth and infancy accounts are fabrications. A theme of Matthew is likening Jesus to Moses for a Judean audience, and the Flight into Egypt does just that. Some skeptics interpret the passage as part of a lengthy justification for how Jesus could have grown up in Nazareth, a minor and little known town in Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, while still have been born in Bethlehem, which was a town of great religious importance because it was attached to King David.

In art



The Flight into Egypt was a popular subject in art, showing Mary with the baby on a donkey, led by Joseph, borrowing the older iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 of the rare Byzantine Journey to Bethlehem. Before about 1525, it usually formed part of a larger cycle, whether of the Nativity
Nativity of Jesus in art
The Nativity of Jesus has been a major subject of Christian art since the 4th century. The artistic depictions of the Nativity or birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas, are based on the narratives in the Bible, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and further elaborated by written, oral and...

, or the Life of Christ or Life of the Virgin.

From the 15th century in the Netherlands
Early Netherlandish painting
Early Netherlandish painting refers to the work of artists active in the Low Countries during the 15th- and early 16th-century Northern renaissance, especially in the flourishing Burgundian cities of Bruges and Ghent...

 onwards, it was more usual to show the non-Biblical subject of the Holy Family
Holy Family
The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph.The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Roman Catholic Church in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family...

 resting on the journey, the Rest on the Flight to Egypt, often accompanied by angels, and in earlier images sometimes an older boy who may represent, James the Brother of the Lord, interpreted as a son of Joseph, by a previous marriage. The background to these scenes usually (until the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 tightened up on such additions to scripture) includes a number of apocryphal miracle
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s, and gives an opportunity for the emerging genre of landscape painting. In the Miracle of the corn the pursuing soldiers interrogate peasants, asking when the Holy Family passed by. The peasants truthfully say it was when they were sowing their wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 seed; however the wheat has miraculously grown to full height. In the Miracle of the idol a pagan statue falls from its plinth as the infant Jesus passes by, and a spring gushes up from the desert (originally separate, these are often combined). In further, less commonly seen, legends a group of robbers abandon their plan to rob the travellers, and a date palm
Date Palm
The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

 tree bends down to allow them to pluck the fruit.

During the 16th century, as interest in landscape painting
Landscape art
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still...

 grew, the subject became popular as an individual subject for paintings, often with the figures small in a large landscape. The subject was especially popular with German Romantic painters
German art
German art has a long and distinguished tradition in the visual arts, from the earliest known work of figurative art to its current output of contemporary art....

, and later in the 19th century was one of a number of New Testament subjects which lent themselves to Orientalist
Orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

 treatment. Unusually, the 18th century artist Gianbattista Tiepolo produced a whole series of etchings with 24 scenes from the flight, most just showing different views of the Holy Family travelling.

A subject taking place after the arrival in Egypt is the meeting of the infant Jesus with his cousin, the infant John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

, who, according to legend was rescued from Bethlehem before the massacre by the Archangel Uriel, and joined the Holy Family in Egypt. This meeting of the two Holy Children was to be painted many artists during the Renaissance period, after being popularized by Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

 and then Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

 with works like Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks
Virgin of the Rocks
The Virgin of the Rocks is the name used for both of two paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, of the same subject, and of a composition which is identical except for two significant details...

.

Two plays of the medieval Ordo Rachelis
Ordo Rachelis
The Ordo Rachelis , Interfectio Puerorum , or Ludus Innocentium is a medieval dramatic tradition consisting in four plays and based on the Massacre of the Innocents, an event recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, and on the prophecy recorded in the Book of Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah,...

 cycle contain an account of the flight into Egypt, and the one found in the Fleury Playbook
Fleury Playbook
The Fleury Playbook is a medieval collection of Latin biblical dramas dating from around 1200 AD. It was included in a composite volume of sermons, biblical texts, liturgical dramas, and hymns that was bound and kept at the library of Abbaye Saint Benoît de Fleury, a Benedictine monastery at...

 contains the only dramatic representation of the return from Egypt.

Nazarenes, Nazareth, and Nazarites



While Luke places Jesus' family as being originally from the town of Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

, Matthew has the family moving there, though gives no specific reason for why they did so. Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

, now a town, is not mentioned by the Old Testament, Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 or rabbinical sources, though many Christian Bible archaeologists, such as the evangelical and egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen
Kenneth Kitchen
Kenneth Anderson Kitchen is Personal and Brunner Professor Emeritus of Egyptology and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, England...

, state that they are fairly sure that a village existed in the area at the time of Jesus. Clarke notes that the location of Nazareth is just to the north of where the large town Sepphoris was located. At the time, Sepphoris had been largely destroyed in the violence following the death of Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

, and was being rebuilt by Herod Antipas
Herod Antipas
Herod Antipater , known by the nickname Antipas, was a 1st-century AD ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch...

, hence Clarke speculates that this could have been seen as a good source of employment by Joseph, a carpenter.

The difficulty with the brief quote he will be called a Nazarene
Nazarene (title)
Nazarene is a title applied to Jesus , who grew up in Nazareth, a town in Galilee, now in northern Israel. The word is used to translate two related words that appear in the Greek New Testament: the adjective Nazarēnos and the Nazōraios...

 is that it occurs nowhere in the Old Testament, or any other extant source. At the time the canon was not firmly established and it is possible that Matthew is quoting some lost source, although all the other quotations in Matthew are from well known works and if a prophecy so closely pointing to the town that Jesus grew up in existed, it would be likely to have been preserved by Christianity.

The most similar known passage is Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

  where of Samson
Samson
Samson, Shimshon ; Shamshoun or Sampson is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Tanakh ....

 it says the child shall be a Nazirite, where a nazirite
Nazirite
In the Hebrew Bible, a nazirite or nazarite, , refers to one who voluntarily took a vow described in . The term "nazirite" comes from the Hebrew word nazir meaning "consecrated" or "separated"...

 was a specific type of religious ascetic. That the Nazirite and Nazareth are so similar in name, while Nazareth isn't mentioned in any other source until after the Gospels have been written, and that the passage almost parallels one about the birth of a hero that was a Nazarite, has led many to propose that Matthew originally had Jesus being a Nazarite, but it was changed to Nazarene, inventing a location named Nazareth, when the ascetic requirements fell foul of later religious practices. Other scholars such as France reject this explanation, stating that Jesus was not a nazirite and claiming that he is never described as one.

Another theory is that it is based on a prophecy at , which states that he grew up before him like a tender shoot — the Hebrew for shoot is nasir. While this piece of wordplay is meaningless in Greek, Hebrew wordplay is not unknown in Matthew, and so Goulder has proposed that the author of Matthew felt a need to justify as much as possible by prophecy, so looked for the closest thing he could find, which was this verse.

Christian traditions associated with the Flight into Egypt


A local French tradition states that Saint Aphrodisius, an Egyptian saint who was venerated as the first bishop of Béziers, was the man who sheltered the Holy Family when they fled into Egypt. It is also held that the Holy family visited many areas in Egypt including Farama, Tel Basta, Wadi El Natrun
Wadi El Natrun
Wadi El Natrun is a valley located in Beheira Governorate, Egypt, including a town with the same name. The name refers to the presence of eight different lakes in the region that produce natron salt. In Christian literature, the region is also referred to as the Nitrian Desert...

, Samanoud, Bilbais, Samalout, Maadi
Maadi
Maadi is a wealthy suburb south of Cairo, Egypt. The town is home to the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, Cairo American College , Lycée Français du Caire , Misr American College , Maadi British International School , the Cairo Rugby Club, and the national Egyptian Geological Museum.-...

, Al-Maṭariyyah
Al-Matariyyah
Al-Matariyyah, Mataria or El Matariya is a district in the northern region of Greater Cairo, east of the Nile, in Egypt. The district is unrelated to the El Matareya coastal region in the Dakahlia Governorate...

 and Asiut among others. It is also tradition that the Holy Family
Holy Family
The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph.The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Roman Catholic Church in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family...

 visited Coptic Cairo
Coptic Cairo
Coptic Cairo is a part of Old Cairo which encompasses the Babylon Fortress, the Coptic Museum, the Hanging Church, the Greek Church of St. George and many other Coptic churches and historical sites. It is believed that the Holy Family visited this area and stayed at the site of Saints Sergius and...

 and stayed at the site of Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (Abu Serga)
Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (Abu Serga)
Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church, also known as Abu Serga, in Coptic Cairo is one of the oldest Coptic churches in Egypt, dating back to the 4th century.-Importance:...

 and the place where the Church of the Holy Virgin (Babylon El-Darag)
Church of the Holy Virgin (Babylon El-Darag)
The Church of the Holy Virgin in Babylon El-Darag is a Coptic Orthodox church in Coptic Cairo built in the 11th century AD.-History:...

 stands now.

See also

  • Christian Egypt
  • Coptic Orthodox Church
  • Massacre of the Innocents
    Massacre of the Innocents
    The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew Herod orders the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth...

  • Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Caravaggio)
    Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Caravaggio)
    Rest on the Flight into Egypt is a painting by the Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, in the Doria Pamphilj Gallery, Rome....

  • Seven Sorrows of Mary
    Our Lady of Sorrows
    Our Lady of Sorrows , the Sorrowful Mother or Mother of Sorrows , and Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows or Our Lady of the Seven Dolours are names by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to in relation to sorrows in her life...


Further reading


  • Albright, W.F.
    William F. Albright
    William Foxwell Albright was an American archaeologist, biblical scholar, philologist and expert on ceramics. From the early twentieth century until his death, he was the dean of biblical archaeologists and the universally acknowledged founder of the Biblical archaeology movement...

     and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  • Brown, Raymond E.
    Raymond E. Brown
    The Reverend Raymond Edward Brown, S.S. , was an American Roman Catholic priest, a member of the Sulpician Fathers and a major Biblical scholar of his era...

     The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. London: G. Chapman, 1977.
  • Clarke, Howard W. The Gospel of Matthew and its Readers: A Historical Introduction to the First Gospel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.
  • France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  • France, R.T. "The Formula Quotations of Matthew 2 and the Problem of Communications." New Testament Studies. Vol. 27, 1981.
  • Goulder, M.D. Midrash and Lection in Matthew. London: SPCK, 1974.
  • Gundry, Robert H.
    Robert H. Gundry
    Robert Horton Gundry is a Biblical scholar. He received a B.A. and a B.D. degree from the Los Angeles Baptist College and Seminary, and his Ph.D. from Manchester University in Manchester, England in 1961 and has taught for several decades at Westmont College in California...

     Matthew a Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
  • Jones, Alexander. The Gospel According to St. Matthew. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1965.
  • Schweizer, Eduard
    Eduard Schweizer
    Eduard Schweizer was a Swiss New Testament scholar who taught at the University of Zurich for an extended period. He won the Burkitt Medal for Biblical Studies in 1996....

    . The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975

External links



Flight into Egypt
Life of Jesus
Gospel harmony
A Gospel harmony is an attempt to merge or harmonize the canonical gospels of the Four Evangelists into a single gospel account, the earliest known example being the Diatesseron by Tatian in the 2nd century. A gospel harmony may also establish a chronology for the events of the life of Jesus...

: The Nativity
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....


Events