Matthew 2:19-21. ” But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel, for they are dead which sought the young Child’s life. And he arose, and took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.”
The picture below is an artist’s conception of the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, begun by Herod’s father and completed by Herod. He must have had some pretty strong abilities and talents to accomplish so much. Too bad he was more interested in his own rise to fame and power than he was in anything else!
Herod was dead. His son Archelaus now occupied the throne, and it was safe for Joseph to take his little family back home. There has been a good deal of discussion and controversy about when Herod’s death actually took place. I don’t know if it’s terribly important for us here, but if you’re interested, here’s a starting place for you to do some research:
And if, like me, you aren’t familiar with the B.C.E. abbreviation, it stand for Before the Common Era. It’s a politically correct way to leave Christ out of the equation. We used to say B.C., meaning before Christ.
Another interesting discussion involves the manner of Herod’s death. It was pretty gruesome, by all accounts. Here’s another link, if you’re interested:
Remember, as you read these sites, that the Christian calendar wasn’t invented until A.D. 525; that means the date we traditionally consider as Christ’s birth will not be consistent with some other historical timelines, so don’t be confused by what seems to be a discrepancy. Different calendars count time differently.
Again, God spoke to Joseph in a dream and told him to take his family back to Israel, because Herod was dead. Joseph, obedient as always, once again packed up his family and headed north and east, heading to his homeland.
For me, the take-away from this short passage is Joseph’s obedience. Three times God spoke to him in a dream; three times he obeyed without hesitation. He was a pretty amazing man, and we’ll see a little bit more of him in my next post. Joseph tends to fade into the background fairly soon, but he leaves a powerful example for us to follow.