The Basics

One of the most popular stories in the Christian religion doctrine is that of Joseph – the father of Jesus, who lived in Egypt. Joseph was venerated in so many Christian doctrines as a saint, and he was believed to be the corporeal father of Jesus Christ. He was supposed to be married to Mary and as soon as he learnt of her pregnancy (via divine means), he quickly hastened the marriage procedure so that he wouldn’t put Mary to shame. As the laws of the land would have had her stoned to death if they found out she was pregnant without being married. Joseph accepted Mary and the baby Jesus as his own and took responsibility for his well-being and safety. As a young man, Joseph wasn’t always an occupant of Egypt, however, circumstances drove him to live in Egypt and his time in Egypt was always recounted as a time of security and safety away from his native land. The journey of Joseph to Egypt is regarded as the “Flight to Egypt” in Christian doctrines according to the gospel of Matthew. The threat to the life of Jesus is the defining reason why Joseph came to live in Egypt for a brief period.

The Threat of Herod

After the birth of his son – Jesus, who was regarded as a prospective king at birth, Joseph had to make a huge decision in his life that changed the residence of his entire family briefly. When the Magi came looking for the new born king (Jesus) they went straight to Herod the great, who was the king of Jerusalem at the time to ask about where to find the new born king. In lieu of this, the king felt paranoid and threatened by the sound of the birth of a new born king, and so he sought to find Jesus, who was the son of Joseph, so that he could kill him. He told the Magi to please return to him once they found the boy, so that he too could pay his homage to him. The Magi, however, never returned to King Herod and the King became more furious about the whole situation. At that point, not even Joseph had realized the impending danger to his family. The king then orchestrated a massacre of all male children born within the time frame of Jesus’ birth, so as to ensure that he’s successfully eliminated the threat to his throne. The instruction from the King was to kill every male child born in Bethlehem – Jesus’ native town.

The Flight to Egypt

But in the middle of the night, an angel appeared to Joseph through dream and informed him about the impending extermination of all male children and the threat posed to Jesus’ life. The angel, then, warned Joseph to take Mary and the little Jesus out of Jerusalem and take them to Egypt where they will be safe for the time being. This explains the motive behind Joseph’s flight into Egypt, which was not even prepared for. Moving to Egypt is quite ironic though, considering it was a historical place of danger from which the Hebrews ran away, but it became a place of refuge for Joseph and his family. The reasoning behind Joseph going to live in Egypt was logical as Egypt represented a region which was outside the realm of King Herod and as such the king could neither inflict any form of harm on him nor the newborn. However, the path between Egypt and Joseph’s native country (Judea) was linked by a coastal road called “the way of the sea”. At the time, both Egypt and Judea were under the governance of the Roman Empire, so Egypt was a safe haven for Joseph and his family. Summarily, the journey of Joseph going to live in Egypt was primarily orchestrated by the instructions he got from the angel due to the impending harm against his son. Even though the whole situation at the time felt irrational to travel in the middle of the night with a baby Jesus, Joseph knew it was the right call to make considering the instructions he received from the angel.

Jesus Living in Egypt

According to the gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ earliest years were spent in a foreign land as a refugee, as he was displaced away from his hometown by a threat to his life. After Joseph, the father of Jesus, took him to Egypt at infancy, the baby Jesus resided in the now Northern part of Africa for quite a brief spell until the angel appeared to his father to announce the death of King Herod. There isn’t so much about the sojourn of Jesus in Egypt because he was more or less an infant throughout his time in Egypt and he was brought there so as to be kept hidden and as such, his parents ensured that he maintained a low profile through his time living in Egypt. According to local reports, Jesus and his family first stopped Farma, which was East of River Nile. After which they continued to journey to Mostorod, which is north of Cairo. The family most certainly saw the great pyramids of Egypt, possibly en route to their final destination. For the short while Jesus lived in Egypt, the place of his sojourn was the village of Metariyeh, which isn’t so far from the city of Heliopolis, which is on the way towards Cairo. At that time, many Egyptian Jews dwelt in this part of Egypt and it explains why Jesus spent his time in Egypt living here. According to some traditions though, Jesus later moved to Memphis. Here in Memphis, there was a temple built by Onias about 150 B.c at Leontopolis, and this temple harbored so many Egyptian Jews at the time. It is therefore accurate to say that baby Jesus grew into a little boy before the death of King Herod, at which time he was able to leave Egypt.

Jesus Grew in Egypt

It is quite intriguing to picture Jesus saying his first words and taking his first steps not in Judea or Nazareth, but in Egypt! It is obvious from this stand-point that the hospitality of Egyptians is indeed legendary, as they took Jesus into their country and assisted his parents in looking after him as he grew.

Egypt: A Safe Haven 

However, throughout the time he lived in Egypt, Jesus was safe and secured within the walls of Egypt! Egypt, at the time, when Jesus was living there was not a place of Pharoanic power and as such it was a safe place for Jews to live and in fact, records have it that so many Jews went to Alexandria in Egypt to study, live and learn during this period. Jesus spent his early years in Egypt with quite a good number of Jews around him, so it is safe to say that Jesus had a very comfortable stay in Egypt during his time of sojourning in Egypt. There is no exact record on the number of years Jesus spent in Egypt with various scholars and books suggesting diverse figures. Some speculated that he spent just a year living in Egypt based on their calculations while some others theorized that he stayed in Egypt for about 3 years before departing to Nazareth with his family. What is known for a fact is that, Jesus spent his early baby childhood days living in the comfort zone of Egypt.

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