We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Flight to Egypt

The flight into Egypt is a story recounted in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:13–23).

When the Magi came in search of Jesus, they went to Herod the Great in Jerusalem to ask where to find the newborn “King of the Jews”. Herod became paranoid that the child would threaten his throne, and sought to kill him (2:1–8). Herod initiated the Massacre of the Innocents in hopes of killing the child (Matthew 2:16–Matthew 2:18). But an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him to take Jesus and his mother into Egypt (Matthew 2:13).

The Escape to Egypt

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[a]

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”[b]

The Return to Nazareth

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Much of the art on this subject shifts the attention from Mary in the previous sections to Joseph. He became popular as the ideal father in the 1500’s.  Joseph is often depicted as leading the donkey  forward and exerting his leadership                

Although the route followed by the holy family is not recorded in the Bible, Coptic (Egyptian) Christians have identified about twenty five places where they believe that

A related subject used by the artists is  “Rest on the Flight into Egypt” which has no mention in the Bible.

Egypt had long been seen as the source of true philosophy and wisdom, both in the Renaissance and Plato’s Greece. The Greeks were fascinated by Egypt’s antiquity

There were three routes available to travelers traversing Sinai from Palestine to Egypt, a crossing, which was usually undertaken in groups for mutual protection and security. However, in their escape from the infanticide fury of King Herod, the Holy Family had to avoid those tracks and to pursue less known paths.

The tortuous trails they followed in their passage across Sinai, and their subsequent travels within Egypt, are chronicled by Theophilus, twenty-third Patriarch of Alexandria (384 – 412 A.D). 

According to the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of James, the Holy Family fled together with Salome, Mary’s midwife. They made their way through the Judaic desert to the Jordan valley

After a time, the holy family returned from Egypt. The text states that Herod had died. Herod is believed to have died in 4 BC,

The land that the holy family return to is identified as Judah, the only place in the entire New Testament where Judah acts as a geographic description of the whole of Judah and Galilee (Matthew 2:20)), rather than referring to a collection of religious people or the Jewish people in general.

The art concerning Flight to Egypt is about the journey to Egypt, nothing about the stay nor the return.