Matthew 2:13. And when they were departed Probably very soon after; for Bethlehem being only about two hours’ journey from Jerusalem, no doubt Herod would have speedy intelligence of the motions of the wise men: the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, take the young child, &c. How watchful was the providence of God over this holy child and his righteous parents: while Joseph and Mary slept secure, enriched by the presents of the wise men, God watches for their safety, and makes them acquainted with the danger which hung over them. They are commanded to flee into Egypt, which was situated so near to Bethlehem, that they could easily arrive there in a few days. And the same divine providence also superintends and preserves all that have an eye thereto, and confide therein, and are God’s true people. Only they must obey his voice, and use the means he has appointed for their preservation. Even Jesus, the only begotten and beloved Son of the Father is not preserved without being taken into a foreign country. The command given by the angel to Joseph and Mary, to flee into Egypt, shows, that this vision happened before their return to Nazareth. For otherwise, it is much more probable they would have been ordered to flee into Syria, which was much nearer to Nazareth than Egypt; to which they could not have passed from thence without going through the very heart of Herod’s dominions, unless they had taken a very large circuit with great expense and danger. For Herod will seek the young child to destroy him Being alarmed by the extraordinary circumstances which had lately taken place, and fearing lest this child should, in time, be a formidable rival to his family. For when the wise men had come so far to pay their homage to a new-born prince, the several reports of what had lately happened would, upon this occasion, be revived; and the behaviour of two such celebrated persons as Simeon and Anna, on the presentation of Christ in the temple, which might at first be only taken notice of by a few pious persons, would, probably, be now reported to Herod, and must add to the alarm which the inquiry of the sages gave him. Respecting Egypt, to which the holy family was commanded to flee, we may here observe, that after the death of Antony and Cleopatra it became a Roman province, and many Jews fixed their abode there, who, speaking the Greek language, made use of the Greek version of the Scriptures, and had even a temple there, which Onias had built them. These circumstances, doubtless, would make the abode of Joseph and Mary in that country more comfortable to them than it otherwise would have been; yet it is natural to suppose, that this information and command from the angel would be a great trial of their faith. To say nothing of the concern it must give them to learn that the life of this divine child was threatened by so crafty, powerful, and bloody a prince as Herod. Joseph was but a carpenter, and therefore, we may suppose, in low circumstances; and Egypt was a strange land, and a land where, it is likely, he had few, if any, acquaintances, and no visible way of subsistence. But, no doubt, he was able to trust that God whose beloved Son was given him in charge, and who had appeared in so signal and manifest a manner for the redemption of his people, and for the child’s protection.
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