Saturday, February 1, 2014

'Egypt' and Matt. 2:15

I was reading through ch. 3 of Wright's big book on Paul when I came across this sentence. It has to do with the second half of Wisdom of Solomon, which concerns a retelling of the exodus narrative.
'Egypt' in the story stands not only, we may assume, for the pagan Egypt of the writer's own day, always capable of launching another pogrom against its Jewish inhabitants, but for any great power which oppresses and enslaves God's people. (p. 242)
This reminded me of Matt. 2:15, where I think something very similar is going on. Egypt is not 'Egypt'; rather, Judah is 'Egypt.' Judah is the "great power which oppresses and enslaves God's people." I've posted on this before, though I'm not sure the point is generally recognized.


Joseph Kelly said...


You are right, this is generally not recognized or accepted when pointed out, for reasons that never fail to baffle me. Herod functions as a Pharaoh figure, if we are to extend your own observation. See the article by Enns and McCartney in the Westminstery Theological Journal, where they argue this interpretation.

Ed Gallagher said...


I think the give-away about what Matthew is doing with Hosea is the placement of the quotation: when the holy family descend into Egypt Matthew says this fulfills Hos 11:1, not when they come up out of Egypt. It is amazing how many people--scholars and just people at church--think that Matthew intends the fulfillment to be leaving Egypt (v. 21) even though he places the quotation several verses before that happens. So I believe you're right that Herod = Pharaoh = wicked "pagan" king enslaving God's people and slaughtering children to thwart, vainly, God's savior (Jesus/Moses). I haven't seen the article in WTJ; I'm sure it would be helpful.

Looking forward to next week!