Flight into Egypt

Event: Jesus’ Flight into Egypt
When: Jesus as a Child
Scriptural Reference: Matt 2:13 -23


Flight into Egypt Painting

Flight into Egypt by Robert T. Barrett

Summary
After the birth of Jesus, three wise men from the east came to King Herod in search of the baby Jesus. After they found him, the wise men were “warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod” (Matt. 2: 12) for Herod sought to kill of the new born Savior.
Then, angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt.” (Matt. 2: 13) Joseph was warned to stay in Egypt until the angel declared it was safe to return. Joseph did as the angel instructed, and Jesus was protected from harm.
More Detailed Account from Scripture
“And when they (the wise men) 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.
“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 of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
“Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
“In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
“But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
“Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
“And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
“But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Matt 2:13 -23
Tradition Around the Flight of the Holy Family

Flight into Egypt Painting

When Jesus and his parents fled Bethlehem to Egypt, it is estimated that up to one million Jews lived in the city of Alexandria. But in the traditions that have grown up in Egypt concerning the “flight of the Holy Family,” it has been assumed that Joseph and Mary avoided populated areas, especially those in which large numbers of Jews lived.

The biblical record says nothing about where Joseph led his family. But where the Bible has left off, tradition has continued the story. Joseph is said to have led his family into the delta about midway between the modern cities of Port Said and Suez. They wound their way across the delta, making a number of stops. At almost every resting place a miraculous event is reported to have occurred, according to the legends. The Holy Family first stopped at the town of Basta near the large, modern city of Zagazig.

Later, according to a local story, the family arrived in the delta town of Belbeis. They eventually arrived at the Roman fortress Babylon, which controlled the Nile river’s traffic at a place just south of modern Cairo. Over a cave there, in which the family is believed to have stayed, was later built the Church of St. Sergis.

After a brief stay in the cave within this large Roman fort, the family is said to have sailed for upper Egypt from the spot where the Church of the Holy Virgin in Maadi now stands. Their long trip, mostly by boat but partly by foot, took them eventually to the Qousqam Mountains. It is believed that the Holy Family lived here in a cave. It is in this cave that the angel is said to have appeared to Joseph, instructing him to take the child and Mary back to their home. (see Biblical Egypt: Land of Refuge, Land of Bondage)

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