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"You want me to go where?" That would have been my response to a dream to take my family and move to a weird place where there were foreign gods, idols and all kinds of evil practices. Joseph, though, didn't react that way.
We're Outta Here
It happened right after the wise men hightailed it out of Bethlehem to avoid Herod: "Now when they departed, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, 'Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word. For Herod will seek the young Child to kill Him'" (Matt. 2:13).
The next line indicates Joseph didn't hesitate. Even though it was still night, he got up, took Jesus and Mary and left for Egypt. Think about that for a minute. They had traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a journey of 80 miles.
Trip from Nazareth
Most sources agree it would take from four days to a week of travel to go that far. They only took necessities with them. They knew, though, that the baby would be born in Bethlehem, so they likely carried carpenter's tools with them for Joseph to use to ply his trade once there.
They had been living in Bethlehem for a year or more. They had probably acquired some items to make life easier. But now Joseph, without hesitating, hastily leaves. He has money now, though. Remember the gold from the wise men?
God provided for His Son before the need became apparent.
Egypt By Night
The journey to Egypt was about 65 miles. It doesn't say how they traveled. Perhaps they still had the donkey some believe they used to travel to Bethlehem in the first place.
Whether Joseph thought about it or not, traveling by night was a great way to move about undetected. Egypt was probably the last place Herod would think a Jew would go. So even though it was a pagan country, it was a safe haven for God's Son.
Joseph came into this gig as the Messiah's adopted father, totally unaware of what would be required of him. It had been a wild and crazy ride to this point—angels, dreams, shepherds, prophet, prophetess and Magi from a foreign land, laden with gifts fit for royalty.
I'd say by this point in time, God's leading in his life had become something Joseph expected. It was an everyday thing. Leaving for Egypt was a no-brainer for this young man of God.
In the meantime, Herod killed all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were 2 years old and under. He had calculated the age of the birth from the information the wise men had told him about when they had seen the star (see Matt. 2:16).
The young family stayed in Egypt until Herod died. The time frame is not spelled out in Scripture. Some sources say it might have been months, or it could have been years.
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