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NPNF1-06. St. Augustine: Sermon on the Mount; Harmony of the Gospels; Homilies on the Gospels
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Chapter IX.—An Explanation of the Circumstance that Matthew States that Joseph’s Reason for Going into Galilee with the Child Christ Was His Fear of Archelaus, Who Was Reigning at that Time in Jerusalem in Place of His Father, While Luke Tells Us that the Reason for Going into Galilee Was the Fact that Their City Nazareth Was There.

22. Or may a question perchance be raised as to how Matthew tells us that His parents went with the boy Jesus into Galilee, because they were unwilling to go into Judæa in consequence of their fear of Archelaus; whereas it would rather appear that the reason for their going into Galilee was, as Luke has not failed to indicate, the consideration that their city was Nazareth of Galilee? Well, but we must observe, that when the angel said to Joseph in his dreams in Egypt, “Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel,”779779     Matt. ii. 19, 20. the words were understood at first by Joseph in a way that made him consider himself commanded to journey into Judæa. For that was the first interpretation that could have been put upon the phrase, “the land of Israel.” But again, after ascertaining that Archelaus, the son of Herod, was reigning there, he declined to expose himself to such danger, inasmuch as this phrase, “the land of Israel,” was capable also of being so understood as to cover Galilee too, because the people of Israel were occupants of that territory as well as the other. At the same time, this question also admits of being solved in another manner. For it might have appeared to the parents of Christ that they were called to take up their residence along with the boy, concerning whom such information had been conveyed to them through the responses of angels, just in Jerusalem itself, where was the temple of the Lord: and it may thus be, that when they came back out of Egypt, they would have gone directly thither in that belief, and have taken up their abode there, had it not been that they were terrified at the presence of Archelaus. And certainly they did not receive any such instructions from heaven to take up their residence there as would have made it their imperative duty to set at nought the fears they entertained of Archelaus.


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