Escape From a Tyrant
JOSEPH wakes up Mary to give her urgent news. Jehovah’s angel has just appeared to him, saying: “Get up, take the young child and its mother and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I give you word; for Herod is about to search for the young child to destroy it.”
Quickly, the three of them make their escape. And it is just in time because Herod has learned that the astrologers have tricked him and have left the country. Remember, they were supposed to report back to him when they found Jesus. Herod is furious. So in an attempt to kill Jesus, he gives orders to put to death all the boys in Bethlehem and its districts who are two years of age and younger. He bases this age calculation on the information that he obtained earlier from the astrologers who had come from the East.
The slaughter of all the baby boys is something horrible to see! Herod’s soldiers break into one home after another. And when they find a baby boy, they grab him from his mother’s arms. We have no idea how many babies they kill, but the great weeping and wailing of the mothers fulfills a prophecy in the Bible by God’s prophet Jeremiah.
In the meantime, Joseph and his family have safely made it to Egypt, and they are now living there. But one night Jehovah’s angel again appears to Joseph in a dream. “Get up, take the young child and its mother,” the angel says, “and be on your way into the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the soul of the young child are dead.” So in fulfillment of another Bible prophecy that says God’s Son would be called out of Egypt, the family return to their homeland.
Apparently Joseph intends to settle in Judea, where they were living in the town of Bethlehem before they fled to Egypt. But he learns that Herod’s wicked son Archelaus is now the king of Judea, and in another dream he is warned by Jehovah of the danger. So Joseph and his family travel north and settle in the town of Nazareth in Galilee. Here in this community, away from the center of Jewish religious life, Jesus grows up. Matthew 2:13-23; Jeremiah 31:15; Hosea 11:1.
▪ When the astrologers do not return, what terrible thing does King Herod do, but how is Jesus protected?
▪ On returning from Egypt, why does Joseph not again stay in Bethlehem?
▪ What Bible prophecies are fulfilled during this period of time?