Matthew 2:19. When Herod was dead His death, of which Josephus has given us a very affecting account, happened, according to some, within three or four months of his perpetrating the above-mentioned bloody act, and was a fearful instance of that vengeance which God, even in this world, sometimes takes on his enemies, and those of his people. He died eaten with worms, at the age of seventy-one, after a reign of forty years, having endured such excruciating, lingering, and loathsome diseases, as rendered him intolerable to himself and others also. And his innate cruelty being thus exasperated, he became more barbarous than ever, and just before his death caused Antipater, his son and the heir apparent of his kingdom, to be executed on some groundless suspicion. God, it seems, made him, in a remarkable manner, a terror to himself and to all round about him. Eusebius, the ancient ecclesiastical historian, thought his death so great an illustration of the gospel history, that he has inserted it at large in his work. An angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
Probably the same angel which had appeared to him before, and directed him to flee into Egypt, and abide there till he should bring him word again. That word is now brought him, and in obedience to it he returns with the child and his mother into the land of Israel. Let us, in like manner, remember, it is God’s part to direct, and ours to obey. Nor can we be out of the way of safety and comfort while we are in the way of duty, following his directions, and steering our course by the intimations of his pleasure. For, “the preservation of the holy child Jesus may be considered as a figure of God’s care over his Church and people, in their greatest dangers. He doth not often, as he easily could, strike their persecutors with immediate destruction, but he provides a hiding place for his children, and by methods not less effectual, though less pompous, preserves them from being swept away even when the enemy comes in like a flood. Egypt, that was once the seat of persecution and oppression to the Israel of God, is now a refuge to his Son: and thus all places will be to us what Divine Providence will be pleased to make them. When, like Joseph and Mary, we are cut off from the worship of his temple, and, perhaps, removed into a strange land, he can be a little sanctuary to us, and give us, in his gracious presence, a rich equivalent for all we have lost.” Doddridge.
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