Magi and Egypt Before Going Home

I find it interesting in studying about the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus that it had to have been a rough beginning for Mary and Joseph and Jesus.  I mean think about it!  Mary and Joseph are engaged but not yet married when Jesus is born (Luke 2:5).  Mary has to go with Joseph on a long journey to Bethlehem to be registered by the Roman Government.  Jesus is born while they are there and they have to wait out the purification period of Mary before going to Jerusalem to the temple to allow her to have her purification ceremony.  On the eighth day they would have taken Jesus to the local synagogue to be circumcised (Luke 2:21) and then Mary and Joseph would have had to stay in Bethlehem for some time before she could be moved.  We know that they stayed in Bethlehem and were in a home because the Wise Men came to their home when they saw Jesus (Matthew 2:11).  This makes sense because we are also told in Luke 2:22 that Mary would need to remain unclean until her purification time had ended.   According to Leviticus 12:1-4 the number of days of uncleanness in giving birth to a son for Mary would have been 8+33=41 days.  It had to have been during this time that the Magi came seeking the Christ child and Mary and Joseph were out of the stable and into a home or perhaps a guesthouse.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”  Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”  After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.  Matthew 2:1-12, (New International Version or NIV).

How exciting it must have been to Mary and Joseph to have had the shepherds come visit the tiny newborn Jesus while still in the manger of hay (Luke 2).  Then to have had a caravan of wise men from a distant land, wealthy Magi who came to worship the Christ Child must have been something that the new parents marveled at.  This must have given them some bit of insight and intuition that their baby was no ordinary baby.  It is often the case even in our own lives that we do not fully comprehend or understand what God is doing.  I wonder if Mary and Joseph knew what God was doing in their lives.  Did they comprehend all that would come to pass?  Somehow I doubt it for they were living these scenes out day by day and so often we humans can’t see the amazing pattern of our life and all the details until we have already lived out a good portion of time.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”  So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”   Matthew 2:13-15, (NIV).

When did this take place?  Was it before or after the trip to Jerusalem for Mary’s Purification Ceremony and Sacrifice?  We really aren’t given the timeline but we do know that the distance from Bethlehem to Jerusalem where the temple was located was around six miles.

Perhaps Joseph had found a job and planned to settle in Bethlehem, we just aren’t told all the details.  What we do know is that Joseph had another dream, an ominous dream that warned him.  Joseph obeyed and for good reason.

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.  Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”  Matthew 2:16-18, (NIV).

We also know that King Herod died shortly after this diabolical act in 4 B.C. so the time Joseph and his family lived in Egypt would have been fairly short.  Joseph then moved his little family back to Nazareth where he and Mary met and became acquainted.

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”  So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.  But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.  Matthew 2:19-23, (NIV).

I think that Joseph was great at protecting Jesus and Mary and that says a lot about him as a man.  He listened to the voice of God even when that voice came in the form of an angel in a dream.  Joseph was a man of God for certain and I admire him greatly.  Now in Nazareth Jesus settles into toddlerhood and grows to be a young man before we know anything more about Him.  Life goes on.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Until next time…Katherine


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