At Matthew 2:13-14 (NRSVCE)we read about the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt:

" 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.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt"

My question is: what were the advantages that Egypt offered as a shelter for the Jewish family in the post-exodus scenario in which the then generation of Egyptians would have only hatred for the Israelites in their genes ? What are the views of the Catholic Church on the divine selection of Egypt as the shelter for the Holy Family ?

  • Egypt became a Greek province under Alexander the Great and then Roman under the Caesars. Egyptians probably wouldn't have born Jews much more animosity than the Portuguese bear the Italians today on account of Rome having conquered Lusitania.
    – guest37
    Feb 7, 2018 at 13:39
  • What were the advantages of people heading to Texas in the 19th century? (Texas is a big place, but Egypt is a much bigger place ...) Feb 7, 2018 at 15:41
  • 1
    I trust that "hatred ... in their genes" was only a metaphor. We're not born hating anybody (except possibly the doctor or midwife who pulls us out of a nice comfortable womb and slaps our bottom to make us breathe). Feb 7, 2018 at 19:54

4 Answers 4


There are many Reasons I suppose that the Holy Family went to Egypt, The main being the simple fact that they knew who Jesus was and that an Angel of God directed them to do so. We can only speculate to the reasons, but here is a fun one.

Jesus was the Fulfillment of Old Testament Promises and the Archetype of Jesus that Moses represents. Here are a few of those Typological simularities.

  1. Both were hunted by a King/Pharaoh
  2. Both were hidden from that King/Pharoah
  3. Both went to Egypt to save their lives.
  4. Both saved and helped by a woman.

It's quite a long list here is a good link that shows them all: Typology of Moses and Jesus.

There are about 20 examples of how Jesus is the New Moses listed on this site.

Typology is rampant in Scripture, it reveals the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament, typology of Mary, the Eucharist, Sacraments, Tribes and Apostles, the information is almost boundless.

Like in his Church, God has a reason for everything he does.


Egypt has a long history with the people of God.

There was famine in Judea, Abram went to Egypt, but was called out.

Gen. 13:1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

Next comes Israel where again there was famine and the sons go to Egypt, which leads to the enslavement. But, they were called out.

Ex. 3:12 And he [God] said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

In turn, this was the prophecy to which Matthew referred.

Hos. 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Mat. 2:5 And [Joseph, Mary, Jesus] was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

That was the prophecy. On a practical level, Egypt, though a part of the Roman Empire, like Judea was, was under a different command. Judea was run by Herod the Great, while Egypt was run by Gaius Turranias. Both were appointed by Caesar as prefects.

Herod the Great was appointed as "king of the Jews". He was fearful of any new king, but a king in a different area where he had no jurisdiction was hardly worth pursuing.

There were many Jews in Egypt during and before Christ's time. Alexandria was where the Septuagint was translated. There was also the only other Temple, besides the Second Temple in Jerusalem, that had valid sacrifices by Kohen. So, as a community open to a Jewish population, it made sense on a practical level that there is where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus would travel.

The fact that the Jews were once slaves and had been set free had no bearing on events 2,000 years later. From a practical point, there was a lively community of Israelites in Egypt already. From a prophetic point, the family had to go to Egypt in order for the Son to be called out of Egypt.


The Exodus happened around 2,000 years before this. Plus, "Egypt" corresponds to a large area, where there certainly were villages and places where Jews could still leave a "normal" (for those times) lives.


Scripture is revealed in type and foreshadow . Jesus called out of Egypt, I called my son out of Egypt, is a picture of the resurrected Christ and his body called out of spiritual Egypt.

Rev.11:8 and their dead bodies lie in the street of that great city which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt where our Lord was crucified

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