At Matthew 2:16 (RSVCE) we read:

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men.

Now, the village of Ein Karem (also Ain Karem) where John the Baptist is believed to have been born, is in the neighborhood of southwest Jerusalem. Naturally, his place would have also been targeted by Herod's soldiers. Are there any authentic writings, say in the collections of Catholic Church, on how the child John was protected from the soldiers?

  • 1
    Near Bethlehem != in Bethlehem.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 12:48
  • 6
    Also John was 6 months older than Jesus and according to the Bible the Wise men visited the child leaving us unclear as to Jesus actual age during that event. The Romans kept very accurate records of births and deaths and would have known exactly who was two years old and younger. John may have been as old as three or at least 2and 1/2 at that time. Much cannot be known from the passages in the Bible since much periphery facts are unknown. Any answer given here will be unsubstantiated, and will fall into the category of an opinion.
    – BYE
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:49
  • The question appears to be asking for Catholic tradition on this issue, which seems to me to be sufficient scope. Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 14:26
  • Good question, and I agree with @BYE Herod knew how old Jesus was, which is why he asked for all the children below 2 to be killed. John was probably a few months over the age of 2. Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 23:33
  • @Nathaniel if the question wants only Catholic responses it should have a Catholic tag, otherwise it is an opinion question.
    – BYE
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 11:44

3 Answers 3


There is a document called the protoevangelium (prequel to the gospel) of St James, the earliest copy of which is said to be third century.

This describes it in more detail.

Chapter 22 verse 3 says

But Elizabeth when she heard that they sought for John, took him and went up into the hill-country and looked about her where she should hide him: and there was no hiding-place. And Elizabeth groaned and said with a loud voice: 0 mountain of God, receive thou a mother with a child. For Elizabeth was not able to go up. And immediately the mountain clave asunder and took her in. And there was a light shining alway for them: for an angel of the Lord was with them, keeping watch over them.

It goes on to say Zacharias, John's father, was subsequently killed for refusing to reveal John's whereabouts.

This is not regarded as canonical.

Ein Karem is about five miles from Bethlehem though, so would not necessarily have been included in the death zone.


Actually it’s in the Bible and often overlooked, I recommend starting at Verse 1 to get the full context of one of the most beautiful Chapters written imo; specifically the last half of this verse

Luke 1: 80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

Clearly the hand of God was upon John to fulfill His Will, and the Holy Spirit guiding and protecting him (of which both Zacharias his father and Elisabeth his mother were also filled with) just as when Jesus being annointed by God with the Holy Spirit without measure after being baptised by John then also went into the wilderness/deserts carrying only his faith and trust in the Father with him to be tempted of the devil.


Catholic.com answers this quite simply from the reasoning point of different geographical location.

Scripture does not say, but Herod apparently limited the murders to the region (Matt. 2:16) where he knew the Messiah was to be born (Matt. 2:1-6). So far as we know, St. John the Baptist and his parents did not live in Bethlehem or its immediate vicinity—otherwise Mary and Joseph could have stayed with them while in the area for the enrollment (Luke 2:4-7)—but in the hill country, in an unnamed city of Judah (Luke 1:39-40), which may have been distant enough from the attack directed by Herod to protect the infant John.

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