THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT
The Gospel of Matthew is the only one to mention the flight to Egypt made by Joseph and Mary with the infant Jesus, or to recall the old Testament verse “Out of Egypt have I called my Son” . He was referring to the prophecy made in the Book of Hosea 11:1.
Their journey across the Sinai Desert into Egypt, and their time in exile, followed the path of a tradition that goes back to the very roots of the Bible. The Old Testament book of Genesis tells of the journey made by the Patriarch Abraham to Egypt. He arrived in Canaan, still called Abram, and was promised the land by God: “Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the Land”. Genesis 12:9-10.
Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph, famous for his coat of many colours, was sold by his brothers and taken as a slave into Egypt. By interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph rose to become the most powerful man in the land after the King himself.
When famine again struck Canaan, Joseph’s brother also went down to Egypt. And so the Children of Israel came to dwell in Egypt, where they multiplied until “there arose a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph”. It is generally believed that this would have been the mighty pharaoh, Ramses II. Ramses reigned in the 13th Century BC for 66 years, he sired 90 children and carved his name onto more colossal buildings than any pharaoh before or after him.
Fearful of their numbers, this Pharaoh ordered the Children of Israel to be enslaved and put them to work constructing Egypt’s great cities. Then he ordered the sons of the Hebrews to be killed. One babe, however, was saved – set afloat in the Nile. He was rescued by a daughter of the Pharaoh who brought of the child up as her own. This was Moses, prince of Egypt.
A. Although the camel is the most common form of transport across the desert, the Holy Family is usually depicted riding on a donkey.
*Now there arose a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. … Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. … And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar and in brick. Exodus 1:8-14
Moses grew up to set his people free, leading them on the Exodus out of bondage and back across the Sinai Desert to the Promised Land.
The Sinai Desert is a 24,000 square mile land-bridge linking Africa with Asia. This wedge-shaped peninsula thrusts itself into the Red Sea creating the Gulfs of Suez to the southwest and Aqaba to the southeast. To the north it is bound by the Mediterranean Sea.
Its sparking blue waters and long stretches of the bright yellow sand give the Sinai some of the most magnificent beaches in the region. Many of these, especially along the Gulf shore around Ras Mohammed, Ras Burkha and Sharm el-Sheikh, boast some of the most spectacular, coral reefs in the world.
Share this page with your friends
Follow News from Jerusalem