Matthew 2:14

ESV And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt
NIV So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,
NASB So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.
CSB So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt.
NLT That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother,
KJV When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

What does Matthew 2:14 mean?

Joseph has now seen an angel of the Lord in two powerful dreams. In both he was given specific instructions from God. The first time, God told him to go through with his marriage to Mary even though she was pregnant (Matthew 1:20). Joseph learned that the child she carried was from the Holy Spirit and would save His people from their sins. The boy was Immanuel, "God with us."

Joseph obeyed immediately. Instead of breaking off the betrothal or even waiting for the betrothal time to be finished he took Mary into his home immediately as his wife, though he did not consummate their relationship until after Jesus was born (Matthew 1:24–25). They settled for a time in Bethlehem until one day a group of wise men and a large entourage showed up at their house. The impressive travelling wise men worshiped their son as a king and gave Him expensive gifts (Matthew 2:11–12).

After they left, the angel returned to Joseph in a dream with new instructions: Run to Egypt. Herod wants to kill the child. Alerted by the wise men, Herod saw Jesus as a potential threat to his throne. To protect his power, he would kill the boy.

Again, Joseph demonstrates his faith by obeying immediately. He packed up Jesus and Mary and left for Egypt by night. Travelling by night not only provided the cover of darkness to the young family, it also shows how urgent Joseph was to obey God and protect his family. It's likely the gifts of the wise men helped pay for this unexpected journey. Joseph and Mary likely saw this as another evidence that God was providing for and protecting them.

In that era, Bethlehem was around a one- or two-day trip from the borders of Herod's authority. Crossing that boundary to the south would put the family in Egypt. Going further would take them to the Nile Delta, where there was a large Jewish community. So an emergency escape into Egypt was a logical choice. It was still a Roman province, but it was outside of Herod's control. Many Jewish people lived in Egypt.

This experience of fleeing to Egypt for safety echoed the experience of the early Israelites who fled to Egypt from famine on several occasions (Genesis 12:10; 42:1–2), eventually becoming slaves to the Egyptians (Exodus 1:8–11).
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