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Matthew in Slow Motion 20

St Joseph Dreaming

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ (Matthew 2:13)

Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν, ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾽ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ, λέγων, Ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ, καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοί μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρώδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον, τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό

Ἀναχωρησάντων – this Aorist Active Participle construction occurs repeatedly in Matthew’s infancy narrative (Matt 1:18; 2:1, 13, 19)

“They” – the Magi

an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream – a regular pattern in Matthew’s infancy narrative (Matt 1:20; 2:19). There is an obvious connection to the Hebrew Bible, dreaming Joseph.

the child and his mother – a lovely, repeated image.

Egypt – this was under Roman law since 30 BCE, but outside Herod’s reach. In the Hebrew Bible, Egypt had been a place of refuge (1 Kings 11:40; Jer 26:21). Alexandria would have had about a million Jews living there.

Herod is about to search for – Jesus, in Matthew, is the new Moses – cf. Exodus 2:15.

destroy – cf. Matthew 27:20

There is no consensus whether these stories are history prophesied or prophecy historicised. There is no record beyond Matthew, and sources dependent on Matthew. The cruelty of Herod is not disputed. Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94 CE), has Herod murdering three of his own sons,[8] his mother-in-law (Antiquities 15:247–251; LCL 8:117–119), and his second wife (Antiquities 15:222–236; LCL 8:107–113). Remember that the population of Bethlehem would only have been about a thousand.

This is the twentieth post in a series – you can begin here:
Matthew in Slow Motion 1
Matthew in Slow Motion 2
Matthew in Slow Motion 3
Matthew in Slow Motion 4
Matthew in Slow Motion 5
Matthew in Slow Motion 6
Matthew in Slow Motion 7
Matthew in Slow Motion 8
Matthew in Slow Motion 9
Matthew in Slow Motion 10
Matthew in Slow Motion 11
Matthew in Slow Motion 12
Matthew in Slow Motion 13
Matthew in Slow Motion 14
Matthew in Slow Motion 15
Matthew in Slow Motion 16
Matthew in Slow Motion 17
Matthew in Slow Motion 18
Matthew in Slow Motion 19

As this year the Sunday Gospel readings’ focus is on St Matthew’s Gospel, I thought I’d start some of my personal study and Lectio Divina with that Gospel. [NB. I am using ‘Matthew’ as a convenient term for the author of the first Gospel in the order of the Christian canon].

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