Life in Egypt
And, by the way! There was no mention of a donkey.
According to local traditions, the first stop for the Holy Family was Farma, east of the Nile River. Then they continued travelling to Mostorod, a city north of Cairo. (Local traditions cherished by the Coptic Church or the Eastern Churches) We mustn’t forget that Jews of the diaspora still lived in Egypt and Scholarship proposes many theories regarding where the Joseph Family may have lived such as Elephantine: Elephantine is an island in the Nile in Upper Egypt (which is southern Egypt) where Nubia begins. Many hundreds of years before Jesus was born, there was a Jewish military settlement on Elephantine, and it continued in some state or another for a long time. Incredibly, the Jews of Elephantine obtained authorization from Jerusalem to build a temple (and you thought there was only one). There are traditions in Egypt that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Elephantine for safety and to be in a Jewish community. To support his family Joseph must have worked as a carpenter, he also would have learned how to use a woodturner’s Lathe there, to produce round decorated table and chair legs for those who could afford to buy them, to make vases and urns from wood rather than clay. As a former woodturner, I have seen a Lathe like those in Egypt of old operated by a pully system by two men, the turner, and the muscle.
The Return to Nazareth
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 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.” Matthew 2:19-20 NIV
So here are the 5 dreams in which the Angel warns or instructs Joseph.
- An Angel speaks to Joseph about Mary’s child.
- An Angel speaks to Joseph to tell him to flee to Egypt -Jesus is about 40 days old
- An Angel speaks to Joseph telling him Herod is dead – about 4 BC
- An Angel warns Joseph not to settle in Judea because Archelaus is the ruler there.
- An Angel tells Joseph to go to Nazareth – Jesus is reputed – in tradition to be about four years old.
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 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, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. (Another fulfillment statement occurs here) So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. Matthew 2:21-23 NIV.
Experts are not a hundred percent sure where this prophecy came from, its exact wording does not occur in any Biblical Prophecy, Matthew may have referenced another source, known to his Community but not to us.
If Psalm 22:6–7 and Isaiah 53:3 are the prophecies that Matthew had in mind, then the meaning of “He shall be called a Nazarene” is something akin to “He shall be despised and mocked by His own people.” Jesus not only identified with humanity by coming to our world; He also identified with the lowly of this world. His upbringing in an obscure and despised town served as an important part of His mission. Jesus identified Himself as “Jesus of Nazareth” during His encounter with Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:7–8). After his conversion, Paul mentioned Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 26:9). One of the names of the early Christians was “Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5), and the term Nasara, meaning “Nazarene,” is still used today by Muslims to identify a Christian.
Reference: GotQuestions.org. 2022. What prophecy is Matthew 2:23 referring to regarding Jesus being a Nazarene? | GotQuestions.org. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.gotquestions.org/Matthew-2-23-Jesus-Nazarene.html. [Accessed 14 January 2022].
Image Attribution © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / CC BY-SA 4.0