And when they were departed
That is immediately, or as soon as they were gone, or in a very little time after, probably the same night,
behold, the Angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream;
it is very likely the same angel who appeared to him in such sort, ( Matthew 1:20 ) "saying arise", awake out of sleep, and rise from thy bed directly,
and take the young child and his mother.
The angel does not say take thy wife and son; for though Mary was properly his wife, yet Christ was not properly his son. The child is also mentioned before the mother, not only because of his divine nature and office, in respect to which he was her God and Saviour; but because it was the preservation of the child that was chiefly regarded, and for which the providence of God was particularly concerned; wherefore Joseph is ordered to take them in proper carriages, and
flee into Egypt,
which was near to Judea, and so a fit place to flee to; for a long and tedious journey would not have been suitable to the mother and her young child. Moreover, Egypt was out of Herod's jurisdiction; here he could not come at them, or have any power over them; besides, hereby a prophecy after mentioned was to have its accomplishment. Hence it appears to be lawful to flee from danger, from tyrants and persecutors, when the providence of God opens a way for escape. The angel goes on with his charge,
and be thou there until I bring thee word:
continue there, do not remove elsewhere, or return back, till I speak with thee, or order and command thee otherwise; and gives the reason for his appearing to him in such a manner, and giving such a charge;
for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him:
no less a person than Herod the king, a bloody minded man, revengeful, desperate, and resolute in whatsoever he undertakes, "will seek", diligently search and inquire for, not his parents, Joseph and Mary, who might have been safe, but "the young child", who was born king of the Jews, and which gave him a great deal of uneasiness; and that not to worship him, as he told the wise men, but
to destroy him,
to take away his life; to prevent which the angel was sent with this charge to Joseph: for though he was born to die for the sins of his people, his time was not yet come; he was to grow up to years of maturity, he was to be a preacher of the Gospel, to do many miracles and at last to lay down his life of himself, voluntarily, and not to be taken away from him without his knowledge and will.