Holy Family – a context

Russian icon of the Flight into Egypt; the bot...Matthew 2:13-23. The Flight into Egypt 13 When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” 14 Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” 16 When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.”

19 When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. 23 He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean.”

Context.  The material in chapter 2 is unique to Matthew. It can be divided into four parts with each of them containing an OT quote, probably added by Matthew into traditional oral narrative material:

  • vv. 1-12 – The Visit of the Magi – with a quote from Micah 5:2
  • vv. 13-15 – The Escape to Egypt – with a quote from Hosea 11:1
  • vv. 16-18 – The Killing of the Children – with a quote from Jeremiah 31:15
  • vv. 19-23 – The Return from Egypt – with a quote from the prophets echoing Hos 11:1; it should be notes that “He shall be called a Nazorean” does not in fact occur anywhere in the OT, nor, as far as we know, in any other contemporary literature.   Continue reading