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The Child Jesus Brought from Egypt to Nazareth.

1-15. THE CHILD JESUS BROUGHT FROM EGYPT TO NAZARETH.
(Egypt and Nazareth, B. C. 4.)
a MATT. 2:19-23 c LUKE 2:39.

      a 19 But when Herod was dead [He died in the thirty-seventh year of his reign and the seventieth of his life. A frightful inward burning consumed him, and the stench of his sickness was such that his attendants could not stay near him. So horrible was his condition that he even endeavored to end it by suicide], behold, an angel of the Lord [word did not come by the infant Jesus; he was "made like unto his brethren" ( Hebrews 2:17 ), and being a child, "he spake as a child" ( 1 Corinthians 13:11 ), and not as an oracle] appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt [Joseph had obeyed the command given at verse 13, and God kept the promise contained therein. God ever keeps covenant with the obedient], saying,

  20 Arise [Happy Joseph! his path was ordered of God. Let us also seek such ordering. "in all thy ways acknowledge him, And he will direct thy paths-- Proverbs 3:6 ] and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel [The phrase "land of Israel" originally meant all Palestine, but during the period of the kingdom of the ten tribes it was restricted to their portion of the country. After the captivities and the return of Judah from Babylon the phrase resumed its original meaning, and hence it is here used to include all Palestine. As Jesus was "not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" ( Matthew 15:24 ), it was fitting that he return thither from Egypt]; for they ["They" is doubtless the plural of majesty; though it may include others unknown to us, who were employed by him or advised him] are dead [How prophetic the words! Christ's enemies die, but he lives on. How innumerable this host of opposers! Persecutors, oppressors, infidels, organizations, principalities, and powers, a vast and motley array of forces, have sought the life of Jesus, have made a great noise in the world, and died away in silence. Pharoahs, Neros, Diocletians, many a Charles, Torquemada and Bloody Mary have come up and gone down, but the king of Israel lives on] that sought the young child's life.

  21 And he arose and took the young child and his mother, and came [The length of his sojourn in Egypt is uncertain. It is variously estimated at from two weeks to more than seven months] into the land of Israel.

  22 But when he heard [Joseph heard this on entering Palestine. As he knew of Herod's death by revelation, and hence before any one else in Egypt, there was no one there to tell him who succeeded Herod] that Archelaus [By his last will and testament Herod divided his kingdom among three of his sons, and Augustus Cæsar consented to the provision of this will. Archelaus, under the title of Ethnarch, received Judæa, Idumæa, and Samaria; Antipas, under the title of Tetrarch, received Galilee and Peræa; and Philip, under the title of Tetrarch, received Trachonitis (with Ituræa), Batanæa, and Auranitis. Each of these sons bore the name of Herod, like their father. Augustus withheld from Archelaus the title of king, promising it to him "if he governed that part virtuously." But in the very beginning of his reign he massacred three thousand Jews at once, in the temple, at the time of the Passover, because they called for justice upon the agents who performed the barbarities of his father's reign. Not long after this a solemn embassy of the Jews went to Rome, and petitioned Augustus to remove Archelaus, and make his kingdom a Roman province. After a reign of nine years, Archelaus was banished to Vienne, in Gaul, where he died in A. D. 6. After him Judæa had no more native kings, and the scepter was clean departed from Judah. The land became a Roman province, and its governors were successively Quirinius, Coponius, Ambivius, Annius Rufus, Valerius Gratus, and Pontius Pilate] was reigning over Judæa in the room of his father Herod [These words sound like an echo of those employed by the embassy just referred to, for it said to Augustus concerning this man, "He seemed to be so afraid lest he should not be deemed Herod's own son, that he took special care to prove it"], he was afraid to go thither [As Matthew has spoken of Joseph residing at Bethlehem (and he did reside there for quite awhile after the birth of Jesus), the use of word "thither" implies that Joseph planned to return to that town. Mary had kindred somewhere in the neighborhood ( Luke 1:36 Luke 1:39 Luke 1:40 ), and doubtless both parents thought that David's city was the most fitting place for the nurture of David's heir]; and being warned of God in a dream [God permitted Joseph to follow the bent of his fear. Joseph's obedience shows him a fit person for the momentous charge entrusted to him], {c they returned} a he withdrew [From the territory of Archelaus to that of Antipas, who was a man of much milder disposition. As the brothers were on no good terms, Joseph felt sure that in no case would Antipas deliver him and his to Archelaus] into the parts of Galilee [It means "circuit." It is the northern of the three divisions of the Holy Land. Its population was very dense, and was a mixture of Jews and Gentiles. Hence all Galilæans were despised by the purer Jews of Judæa],

  23 and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth;

c their own city [This town lies on a hillside, girt in by fifteen higher hills. It is a secluded nook. Here Jesus grew up in obscurity till he reached his thirtieth year. Here he spent about nine-tenths of his earthly life. Sweet humility! Lowliness is as rare and precious a virtue as pride is a plentiful and repugnant vice] a that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets [Matthew uses the plural, "prophets," because this prophecy is not the actual words of any prophet, but is the general sense of many of them. We have noted three kinds of prophecy; this is the fourth kind, viz.: one where the very trend or general scope of Scripture is itself a prophecy], that he should be called a Nazarene. [The Hebrew word netzer means "branch" or "sprout." It is used figuratively for that which is lowly or despised ( Isaiah 17:9 ; 15:1-6 ; Malachi 4:1 ). See also John 15:6 ; Romans 11:21 . Now, Nazareth, if derived from netzer, answered to its name, and was a despised place ( John 1:45 John 1:46 ), and Jesus, though in truth a Bethlehemite, bore the name Nazarene because it fitly expressed the contempt of those who despised and rejected him.]