Thursday, January 14, 2010

Matthew Part 4 (2:13-23)

Not going to say too much about this text except a few things that were brought up as we read through the last part of chapter two. The text describes Joseph’s and his family’s escape TO Egypt. Egypt is usually pictured in the scriptures as a place of oppression and bondage but here God uses it as refuge.

Its seems as if the author goes to great lengths to compare this journey with the journey of Israel. Jacob and his sons also fled to Egypt for refuge in Genesis and then of course God delivered the Hebrew people from Egypt and into the Promised Land. Here we see a picture of that journey. An escape to Egypt and then being led back into Israel. Jesus is the new Moses, a theme which we will see throughout the entire book of Matthew.

Something that we noticed that seemed a little odd is the very last part of the chapter. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and informs him that it is now safe to return to the land of Israel. The text says that all of the people who wanted to harm them were now dead. This is the odd part… Joseph packs up and moves back to the land of Israel as the angel had said to do, but on realizing that Herod’s son, Archelaus, was now reigning, Joseph became afraid AND HAVING BEEN WARNED IN A DREAM he went to the district of Galilee town called Nazareth to live. So did the first angel that told Joseph it was safe to go back get mixed up or something? Joseph was told “in a dream” to go back to Israel because it was safe, and then warned in another dream that it actually was not safe and he needed to get out.

Then the text reads… “So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene’.” As if all this happened just so that saying would be fulfilled.

A few things here…First. Luke doesn’t mention any of this. The book of Matthew reads as if Joseph is moving to Nazareth for the first time, while Luke says that he lived there before Jesus’ birth. Also, the part about, “He will be called a Nazarene” is nowhere in the scriptures (that I have found anyway). So what is the author referring to. The only thing that even comes close is in Judges 13:5 referring to Samson not cutting his hair because he is a Nazirite. Maybe the author is comparing Jesus to Samson here as the Savior of his people.

Your thoughts?…

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