1. Prologue, 1:1-2:23

iv] The escape to Egypt


Matthew now recounts the flight of Joseph and his family into Egypt, the massacre of the innocents, and the return of the family to Nazareth some time later. In Egypt, the holy family is able to take refuge from the murderous plans of Herod.


Jesus is the messiah, the anointed king who is sent by God to save his people. He is the son of David and the promised "prophet like unto Moses".


i] Context: See 1:1-17.


ii] Structure: The escape to Egypt:

An angel's warning, v13-15;

Herod's slaughter of the infants, v16-18;

Joseph and family return to Israel, v19-21.


iii] Interpretation:

In the passage before us Matthew records a standard three-point sermon structure. The stories and teachings of Jesus were initially preserved as oral tradition and shaped by their repetitive use in preaching and teaching situations, and this fact is often evident in gospel tradition. The narrative demonstrates Jesus' messianic qualifications by building a story around three Old Testament quotations which were fulfilled in Jesus' childhood years. The narrative supports this messianic fulfillment theme by telling the story in the terms of Moses typology (Moses in the bulrushes etc.). The episode reveals that Jesus is not only the long promised messiah, he is representative Israel (the faithful people of God) whose "Exodus" is close at hand. In Jesus we find the fulfillment of all prophecy.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 2:13

Jesus, the prophet like unto Moses, v13-23; i] The flight to Egypt - "I called my Son out of Egypt", v13-15. In typical Old Testament style, an angel from the Lord sets out to guide Jesus to safety. Egypt is the obvious choice, for it has already served as a place of refuge for the people of Israel, and Jesus, the long-promised messiah, the prophet like unto Moses, represents remnant Israel. So, out of Egypt comes Israel's redemption, just as in the days of the Exodus under Moses. The nation of Israel had its origin in Egypt and was galvanized by the events of the Exodus. By quoting Hosea 11:1, Matthew affirms Jesus as the true remnant of Israel, a remnant whose redemption is close at hand. The point Matthew is making is that the messianic age begins when Israel comes out of Egypt (Note the similar Exodus symbolism in 4:1-11).

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative so best left untranslated.

anacwrhsantwn (anacwrew) aor. part. gen. "when [they] had gone" - they departed. The genitive participle with the genitive of the personal pronoun, "they", forms a genitive absolute construction standing as an independent statement to the main clause. Usually translated as a temporal clause, as NIV, Moffatt and others, "after they had gone"; the "they" being the wise men, who had gone back to their own country by another way, v12.

kuriou (oV) gen. "[an angel] of the Lord" - [behold a messenger] of lord. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, possessive, it is the Lord's messenger, or ablative, source/origin, "an angel from the Lord."

fainetai (fainw) pres. "appeared" - appeared [in a dream]. Historical present used for narrative style. "Showed / revealed himself."

tw/ Iwshf dat. "to Joseph" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to appear to."

kat onar "in a dream" - Idomatic phrase, as NIV. The preposition kata + acc. is adverbial, either modal, expressing manner, or instrumental, expressing means, "by means of a dream."

legwn (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle, "appeared and said", but possibly adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his appearing; "appeared saying."

egerqeiV (egeirw) aor. pas. part. "get up" - getting up, rising up. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb "take"; "get up and take."

paralabe (paralambanw) aor. imp. "take" - take [the child and the mother of him and flee to egypt]. The aorist imperative gives a sense of urgency to the command; "bundle up the child and get out of here quickly."

isqi (eimi) imp. "stay" - [and] remain [there]. A particular use of the verb to-be; "stay / reside", BAGD.

eJwV an + subj. "until I [tell]" - until [i say]. This construction, which forms an indefinite temporal clause, gives the sense of the continuation of a situation "until" the occurrence of a particular intervening event; "until I tell you that it is safe to come back to Israel."

soi dat. pro. "you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the family should remain in Egypt until told otherwise; "because ......"

mellei (mellw) "is going [to search]" - [herod] is about. Indicating intention.

zhtein (zhte) pres. inf. "to search" - to seek [the child]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "is about."

apolesai (apollumi) aor. inf. "to kill [him]" - The infinitive is adverbial, most likely introducing a purpose clause; "in order to kill him."


egerqeiV (egeirw) aor. pas. part. "got up" - [and he] having arisen [took]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to take"; "he rose and took the child", ESV. "Joseph rose from sleep", NEB - he hopped out of bed and got going.

nuktoV (ux uktoV) gen. "during the night" - [the child and the mother of him] during night. The genitive is adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

anecwrhsen (anecwrew) aor. "left [for Egypt]" - departed [to egypt]. The word carries the sense of withdrawing from danger.


eJwV + gen. "until" - [and he was there] until [the death]. Introducing a temporal clause, "until".

HJrw/dou (hV ou) gen. "[the death] of Herod" - The genitive may be treated as verbal, subjective, or adjectival, possessive, "Herod's death."

iJna + subj. "and so [was fulfilled]" - that [might be fulfilled the words spoken]. Normally taken to introduce a final clause, expressing purpose, "in order that", but consecutive, expressing result may be intended, "they went to Egypt and stayed there and so the word's of the prophet were fulfilled"; "this again is a fulfillment of the Lord's word", Phillips.

dia + gen. "through [the prophet]" - [by lord] through, by means of [prophet]. Instrumental, expressing agency.

legontoV (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Probably adverbial temporal, "spoken by the Lord through the prophet when he said ....."

ex (ek) + gen. "out of [Egypt]" - Expressing source/origin.

ekalesa (kalew) aor. "I called" - i summoned [the son]. Note the Hosea 11:1 text has "called my child", meaning Israel. This quote from the Hebrew text refers to God's call to Israel at the time of the Exodus. Matthew happily changes it to "son, meaning Jesus. Another hint that the gospel writers understand that Jesus is the representative Israel of God. This is not a reference to Jesus' filial relationship to God the Father, although this sense is argued by some commentators.

mou gen. pro. "my [son]" - [son] of me. The genitive is adjectival, relational.


ii] The massacre of the innocents - "a voice was heard in Rama, wailing and loud laments", v16-18. The second part of the narrative illustrates Herod's response to the deception of the Magi (the wise men). He orders the execution of all boys under two years old in Bethlehem. Given a population of 1,000, this would amount to about 20 children. Herod's extermination of opponents is well documented, although this particular incident is not. Given that he even executed members of his own family, what's a few children here or there? In v18 Matthew quotes Jeremiah 31:15 to demonstrate, in a general sense, the fulfillment of prophecy in Herod's evil act. Jeremiah speaks of Israel overwhelmed by a foreign power, devastated and about to be taken into exile. The destruction of the children in Bethlehem images this situation, but it also images the return from exile - grief is but a moment before joy; Rachel's weeping will be short-lived. Bethlehem's grief will break into joy when her salvation is realized in Christ.

tote adv. "-" - then [herod]. Temporal; "at that time."

idwn (oJraw) aor. part. "when [Herod] realized" - seeing. The participle is adverbial, probably best taken to introduce a temporal clause, as in NIV.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Herod realized.

enepaicqhn (empaizw) aor. pas. "he had been outwitted" - he was deceived, tricked. With the added sense of mocked, ridiculed.

uJpo + gen. "by [the Magi]" - Instrumental, expressing agency.

equmwqh (qumow) aor. pas. "he was furious" - was enraged, angry [greatly]. The aorist here probably takes the sense of Herod's becoming angry (ingressive); "he flew into a rage."

kai "and" - The sense is somewhat inferential; "so, so therefore, so as a result."

aposteilaV (apostellw) aor. part. "he gave orders" - having sent. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to kill"; "so he sent and slew", ie., he sent his soldiers to kill.

aneilen (anairew) aor. "to kill" - took away = destroyed, annihilated, killed [all the male children]. "He ordered that all the baby boys should be killed."

touV "-" - the [in Bethlehem and in all the districts of it]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrases introduced by en, "in", into an attributive relative clause limiting "boys"; "the boys who are in Bethlehem and ...."

apo + gen. "[who were two years old and under]" - from [two years old and under]. The preposition here serves to introduce a series.

kata + acc. "in accordance with [the time]" - Expressing a standard; "in accordance with, corresponding to."

para + gen. "from [the Magi]" - [which he ascertained] from [the Magi]. Spacial, expressing source / origin; "the time that he had ascertained from the wise men", ESV.


tote "then [was fulfilled]" - Introducing a temporal clause. "At that time the statement made by Jeremiah the prophet came true", Barclay.

to pJhqen (legw) aor. pas. part. "what was said" - the word spoken. The participle serves as a substantive.

dia + gen. "through [the prophet Jeremiah]" - Instrumental, expressing agency.

legontoV (legw) gen. pres. part. "-" - saying. As in v15, poss. "when he said."


The quote comes from Jeremiah 31:15, where the prophet symbolically describes Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, weeping for her children as they are taken into exile in Babylon.

fwnh (h) "a voice" - a voice, sound [in ramah was heard]. Nominative subject of the verb "was heard." "The sound of someone crying."

klaiousa (kalew) pres. part. "weeping" - weeping [and mourning great]. Complement of the nominative subject "Rachel", standing in a double nominative construction. It is possible to classify the participle as adjectival, predicative, "Rachel is weeping for her children."

ouk hqelen (qelw) imperf. "refusing" - [rachel weeping for the children of her and] she would not. The imperfect tense expresses durative, ongoing action, "she could not be comforted", TH, although Moffatt's "inconsolable" is better as it carries the sense that Rachel willed not to be comforted.

paraklhqhnai (parakalew) aor. pas. inf. "to be comforted" - to be comforted. The infinitive may be classified as complementary, completing the sense of the verb "willed", or as a dependent statement of perception expressing what she "willed not / refused."

oJti "because [they are no more]" - because [they are not]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Rachel would not be comforted; "because they (her children) are dead", TEV.


iii] The return to Israel and home in Nazareth - "he shall be called a Nazarene", v19-23. Herod died in 4BC, which means that Jesus was probably born around 6BC (our dating system is faulty due to a mistake made in the middle ages). Again, a word from the Lord comes to Joseph; he is to return to Israel. Matthew keeps up the Moses typology by paralleling the language of the angel recorded in Exodus 4:19. Like Moses, Jesus is to return to save his people. On returning to Israel the family faced the problem of Archelaus who ruled the Judean portion of his father's kingdom and was far more brutal than his father. Herod Antipas ruled the Galilean and Peraean portions, and was a little less violent, so the family moved to Galilee, settling in Nazareth. Matthew draws out the significance of Jesus' geographical origin. It was expected that the Messiah would come out of the Davidic town of Bethlehem, but Jesus grew up in Nazareth and so was called a "Nazarene". Matthew doesn't actually quote any particular prophet, but rather gives the general prophetic picture of a rejected and humiliated messiah; "Can anything good come from Nazareth", Jn.1:46. The town was partly Gentile and not highly ranked by the Jewish elite.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

teleuthsantoV (teleutaw) aor. part. gen. "after [Herod] died" - [herod] having died. Genitive absolute construction, genitive participle + the genitive noun "Herod", usually translated as a temporal clause, "after / when". Herod actually died in 4BC. The mistake in dating the birth of Jesus is down to Dionysius Exiguus, 500-550AD.

kat onar "[appeared] in a dream" - [behold an angel of Lord appeared] according to a dream. See v13. The genitive "of the Lord" is probably ablative, source / origin, "an angel from the Lord."

tw/ Iwshf dat. "to Joseph" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to appear to."

en + dat. "in [Egypt]" - Local, expressing space, but possibly intended as temporal, "while in Egypt."


legwn (legw) "and said" - Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "appeared", but of course, as is often the case, it may be viewed as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the angel's appearing, v19.

egerqeiV (egeirw) aor. part. pas. "Get up" - rising up. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "take" and so treated as an imperative; "get up and take." Joseph is in bed again!

poreuou (poreuomai) pres. imp. "go" - [take the child and the mother of him and] go [into land of israel]. The use of the present tense, instead of the more grammatically correct aorist, is out of "politeness", MHT III. "Journey / travel"

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the family can now go home; "because ....."

oiJ zhtounteV (zhtew) part. "those who were trying to take" - the ones seeking. The participle serves as a substantive. Presumably the plural here includes the other associates of Herod who were out to kill Jesus, although it is a strange shift from the singular "Herod" - only Herod died! There is a possible allusion to Exodus 4:19, but it is more than likely that the plural is just generalizing the account. Herod is the perpetrator of this evil, but it is carried out by his associates.

tou paidiou (on) gen. "the child's [life]" - [the life] of the child [have died]. The genitive is best classified as adjectival, possessive, but possibly ablative, source / origin.


Joseph is obedient to the divine message. For the fourth time he gets up out of bed, this time for the journey home.

egerqeiV (egeirw) aor. pas. part. "so he got up" - [and he], having arisen, [took the child and the mother of him and entered into the land]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "took", "he got up and took", but possibly adverbial, consecutive, as NIV.

Israhl gen. proper "[the land] of Israel" - The proper genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / identification, limiting "land"; "the land known as Israel."


de "but" - but/and. Usually treated as adversative, "but", although it is primarily transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "when he heard" - having heard. The participle is adverbial, best rendered as a temporal clause, as NIV, NRSV, ESV, ..., possibly, "hearing", NEB, or causal, "since he heard ..."

oJti "that" - that. Here serving to introduce a dependent statement of perception, expressing what he heard.

ArcelaoV "Archelaus" - He reigned over Judea from 4BC to 6AD. The reason for the move into Galilee under Herod Antipas, 4BC to 39AD, is unstated, other than that it complies with the prophecy, v23.

thV IoudaiaV (a) gen. "[was reigning] in Judea" - [is reigning] of judea. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / subordination; "reigning over Judea."

anti + gen. "in place of" - instead of [the father of him, herod]. A preposition conveying a sense of substitution. "Archelaus had succeeded his father", TEV.

efobhqh (foeomai) aor. "he was afraid" - Possibly "he became fearful" (ie., ingressive).

apelqein (apercomai) aor. inf. "to go there" - The infinitive forms an object clause / dependent statement of perception, expressing what he feared.

crhmatisqeiV (crhmatizw) aor. pas. part. "having been warned [in a dream]" - [and] having been warned, revealed [according to a dream]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as instrumental, expressing means, "by a divine injunction in a dream", Moffatt, but possibly temporal, "after he had received a message in a dream", Barclay, or even causal, "because of."

thV GalilaiaV gen. "[the region] of Galilee" - [he departed into the districts] of galilee. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / identification, limiting "region, district", "the region known as Galilee." "The Galilean region", Berkeley.


elqwn (ercomai) aor. part. "he withdrew" - having come. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "lived"; "he came and dwelt in a city."

katw/khsen (katoikew) aor. "lived" - he dwelled, settled. Referring to a permanent dwelling, "made his home", TEV.

polin (iV ewV) "town" - [in] city. There is no word for town, so it is a choice between "village" or "city". Nazareth is no village, but neither is it a city.

legomenhn (legw) pres. mid./pas. part. "called [Nazareth]" - The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the noun "town"; "a town which is called Nazareth."

oJpwV + subj. "so [was fulfilled]" - so that [might be fulfilled]. This construction possibly forms a purpose clause "in order that", "in order to", "this was to fulfill", NEB, but better a consecutive clause expressing result, "thus fulfilling the old prophecy", Phillips.

to rJhqen (legw) aor. pas. part. "what was said" - the thing being spoken. The participle serves as a substantive, introducing a noun clause, object of the verb "fulfilled"; "that which was spoken by the prophets."

dia + gen. "through [the prophets]" - Instrumental, agency, as NIV; "what had been said by the prophets", Moffatt.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement, quotation, expressing what the prophets said. The NIV, NRSV, NEB, TEV,.... takes the conjunction as introducing a direct quote, but possibly an indirect quote, what the prophets generally said, but also possibly introducing a consecutive clause expressing result, "with the result that." "That he should be called a Nazarene", Phillips.

klhqhsetai (kalew) fut. pas. "he will be called" - Interestingly, there is no prophecy concerning the Messiah being called a Nazarene, but quite a few references of him being derided by his own people. The term "Nazarene" is obviously being used in a general sense of a person who is provincial, uncouth and therefore not worthy of consideration. Some have suggested that neitzer, "branch", from Isaiah 11:1, is the source of the allusion.


Matthew Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]