Chapter 3- The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family
From the Bible:
2:11 and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
2:12 and having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. The Flight to Egypt.
2:13 When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
2:14 Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.
2:15 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” The Massacre of the Infants.
2:16 when Herod realized that the magi had deceived him, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
2:17 Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
2:18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.” The Return from Egypt.
2:19 When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
2:20 and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
2:21 He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.
2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.
2:23 He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean.”
After the Wise men left, Joseph had a vision in which an Angel told him to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod’s wrath. Joseph, Mary and Jesus and fled the country in the middle of the night, and traveled from Bethlehem to the Egyptian border which was over a 100 miles, and then onto the nearest Jewish settlement, another 30 miles from the border.
Herod was very angry that the Magi did not report back to him as to where the New King of the Jews was born. Herod sent out his soldiers to the town of Bethlehem to kill all the infants less than two years of age. The soldiers even chased Mary, Joseph, and Jesus into Egypt itself.
“Mary, an Angel came to me in the night and told be we are in great danger. Herod will seek out Jesus or any infant claiming to be the King of the Jews, and slaughter them,” Joseph confessed. Joseph was visibly shaken realizing that the soldiers of Herod were seeking his blessed son Jesus. They had left Bethlehem and had traveled to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised as was the Jewish custom after 8 days. Jerusalem was a hard two days walk from Bethlehem. Now after having a vision from an Angel, Joseph had to take his family and flee from Bethlehem for the border of Egypt to avoid Herod’s wrath.
“Mary, help me pack our belongings and let us depart quickly,” Joseph instructed. “Yes my beloved husband, I will do as you say,” Mary exclaimed. “I am worried my husband, what is to become of us, and our child Jesus,” Mary said. “Is he really to become the King of the Jews having been born of such a lowly status in life, Mary questioned? “I do not know, but what I do know is the Angels of God know all, and sees all, and we are to obey,” Joseph commented. “Let me take the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the Magi brought us, and trade it for some food and goat sacks of water for our journey,” Joseph said. He went off to find a local merchant that he could trade the gold, frankincense, and myrrh for food supplies such as dried fruit and meat and goat skins to put water in. He found a Jewish merchant called Samuel, and after some bargaining he managed to barter much of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh for a several sacks of food. Returning to Mary soon after, Joseph told her of his successful barter for food and goat water sacks. Mary was relieved that they would have food for the journey. Being that it was late in the day, Joseph decided to wait a few hours until the sun began to set to avoid the heat of the day in the desert. They left in the middle of the night.
It cooled off a few degrees when they departed the city of Jerusalem heading south to Egypt with but a donkey, and all of there belongs loaded on the animal. The dust rose up in the air as Joseph sandals scrapped along the dry soil, and the donkey kicked up dust with the burden of Mary, and all their belongings loaded on the beast. The only thing that kept them going was their faith in God that he would lead them to safety. They had only a few days lead on the soldiers of Herod who were on horseback not donkeys.
Several hours later they stopped to rest. The sun had already set the cool desert night air under a full moon made the trip more bearable. “I am sorry to have dragged you all over Israel,” Joseph commented. “It is as the Angel of God had commanded us my husband,” Mary said. “I will give the donkey some water, and we will be on our way,” Joseph said. Mary breastfed the little infant Jesus, and soon they were on their journey again. They stopped around 3:00 in the morning from exhaustion, and sought shelter under a large tree along the side of the caravan route.
Mary took out some bread, and dried fish and they offered up prayers to God and eat their meal. The desert was bright that cold February evening under the full moon. Joseph and Mary were even fearful of the wrath of Herod, and his soldiers. They knew the further they got away from Jerusalem the safer they would be. What they did not know was that Herod’s soldiers would chase then into Egypt. A young woman named Rachel who had a 1 ½ year old boy wanted to protect her boy from being killed by Herod’s soldiers in Bethlehem, so she told them about a woman who had a child in a manger and that the child’s father was called Joseph of Nazareth. The soldiers spared Rachel’s son and then chased after Mary and Joseph on the caravan road from Bethlehem to the Sinai.
The next morning was very cold as the sun rose warming the desert landscape. Joseph had risen early, fed the donkey and packed up their supplies before Mary awoke with Jesus. Quickly they were on their journey once again before the heat of the desert made travel impossible, even in the winter of the season. It was six days after the Feast of Purification in the month of February as they fled to Egypt.
“How much farther Joseph do you think the Egyptian border is,” Mary asked? Another two days I believe or maybe three. We will have to go through Sinai first” Joseph responded. They stopped during the midday heat, and rested under a small tree. Mary and Joseph prayed together, and then ate some dried meat, dried fruits, and water. Later Mary breastfed Jesus, and they rested for several hours. In the early evening hours they began their journey until late in the darkness of the night.
Five days later they arrived at the settlement called Gaza. The journey was about 130 miles from Jerusalem. They went first to the well to replenish their water supply. While at the well many Egyptians that passed by asked from where they had come. Mary did not respond for fear of giving away their purpose. Joseph told then that they were traveling to visit family members living in Heliopolis (modern day Cairo). So they stayed at Gaza for two days after the exhaustive trip from Jerusalem. They needed to recover from their fatigue, which they did under a grove of olive trees just outside the town of Gaza. “I have prayed every day and night for our safety on our journey Joseph,” Mary remarked. “I know this is a difficult trip in the middle of the winter season, but summer is even worse with high temperatures and a broiling sun,” Joseph said. Baby Jesus was doing well, and Mary kept him well covered from the dirt of the desert and the heat of the day. After two days of rest they moved on though the Bersabe desert that was well known for its sand dunes and difficult travel. The distance from Gaza to Heliopolis (modern Cairo) was 60 leagues, or 180 miles over sand dunes, and dangerous country. Their progress was much slower each day because of the deep sands of the Bersabe desert. While on their way a caravan from Bethlehem passed them by. “Strangers how goes your journey,” Joseph asked a caravan guide. “We come from Bethlehem,” the caravan guide remarked. “Have your seen any of Herod’s soldiers on the way,” Joseph asked. “Yes, they are two day behind us headed this way,” said the caravan guide. “God be with you in your journey,” Joseph shouted to the caravan guide. Soon the caravans of camels were a cloud of dust on the horizon. “Mary we must proceed fast for the soldiers of Herod are on horseback and two days behind us,” Joseph remarked. “What will we do my husband,” Mary asked sadly. “We must make it to El-Zaraniq today and find food and shelter,” Joseph remarked.
El- Zaraniq (Floussiat) 37 kilometers or 22 miles west of El-Arish
After traveling about 22 miles that day they came to the town of El Zaraniq (Floussiat), and there they rested that night. They were careful to stay off the main caravan roads for fear of being robbed or stopped by foreigners. “Joseph I know the God is with us on this terrible journey. Be strong my husband,” Mary said. “It is as it was written my wife that we must bring the savior out of Egypt,” Joseph responded. They prayed together in the shade of an abandoned house foundation. The future looked bleak but their faith in God was their strength. It was a journey that would seem endless for over four years. “We have another days journey to reach El Arish where we can trade for more food. I have some of the gold the Magii left us to barter with. I did not spend it all in Jerusalem,” Joseph said. “I am sure God will provide if we are in need,” Mary commented. “We must stay ahead of Herod’s soldiers for they are traveling faster than we can travel with a donkey,” Joseph commented.
The next day they left at sunrise to avoid the noonday sun to travel to El-Arish which was about 20 miles or so. The trip was hot and difficult with a hot desert wind that day. Mary was holding up well holding Jesus on the Donkey all the way. They rested every few hours, and took a mid-day break at noon to eat, and avoid the scorching sun. Joseph was tired and he was beginning to feel his age but he said nothing to Mary for fear of worrying her. Joseph had never been to Egypt before and had no map, yet the Lord gave Joseph a vision in his mind as to which caravan road to travel on. It was much like a blind man walking in an unknown desert. The Lord leadeth and the lord knows the mission for whom he had planned for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
Later that evening they entered El-Arish and sought out the well to refill their goatskins with new water. They exhaustion was great and traveling alone on a caravan road without a caravan as protection was dangerous. They were every mindful of robbers who prey on people who travel the caravan roads. Only their faith in God provided the protection they needed to stay away from harms way.
The next day they left for Farma (ancient Pelusium) which was midway between El-Alish and the present day Port Said. This would be their last stop in the Sinai.
On their journey that day many birds assembled overhead and showed the way to Farma. Mary knew it was a divine sign from God, and she was comforted. Joseph walked the entire way of the journey. As he was walking to Farma suddenly his legs had more spring to them and his stride was longer. Truly God had given his old body new strength. It would take many such miracles to keep the Holy Family moving through Egypt. “Joseph how are you doing,” Mary inquired. “God is with me my love and he has given me new strength,” Joseph replied. “I see a mirage of the town of Farma which must be over the horizon,” Joseph said. After many rest stops they finally entered Farma that evening. They rested near an old rock wall. Their food supplies were running low as well as feed for the donkey. They would need to buy some food for them and the donkey at Farma the next morning.
As the sun rose the next day Joseph went into the marketplace at Farma and with his few remaining pieces of Gold he bartered for some feed for the donkey and dried meat and dried fruit for him and Mary. Mary waited at the old rock wall in the shade until Joseph returned. Upon his return he fed the donkey and they both eat some dried figs in honey and some dried fish. Packing up the donkey, they got a late start that day. “Where is our destination today,” Mary asked. “The lord has told me we are headed to a town called Tel Basta (Basta),” Joseph commented. “I had a vision that miracles will happen when we reach the town,” Joseph said. “Miracles you say, that is wonderful,” said Mary. “Be patient my wife, we will be at Tel Basta soon. Six hours later they arrived at Tel Basta and a strange thing happened. Tradition has it that all of the stone idols in the town crumbled and fell to the ground as they entered the main marketplace. There was no well in the town, and they were worried about their short supply of water. Mary sat with Jesus on a rock near the marketplace as the sun was going down. Suddenly, water began squirting from the side of the large bolder they had been sitting on. It was a miracle as Joseph had seen. The towns’ people were grateful for the new well of water, but angry about their stone idols crumbling to the ground. They blamed the destruction of the idols on the Holy Family causing them to flee the town after but a few hours.
Several miles outside of Tel Basta, Joseph stopped and told Mary they would sleep under this grove of trees for the night, and then head to Mostorod (Al Mahamma) the next day. Mary was still amazed how the water appeared from nowhere to form a well, as well as the idols falling down. God’s will was very powerful. Joseph and Mary talked that evening about all that happened in Tel Basta and how the miracles of God took place with the new well and the fallen idols. Truly God blessed them on their journey. Sleep came quick that cold night and they huddled together for warmth.
The next day they were on their way to Mostorod (Al Mahamma). Joseph had another vision and so did Mary. They saw idols crumbling again and water and a well too. “Did you have any visions last night Mary,” Joseph inquired as they were walking. “Yes, I saw more idols falling and a bathing place for me to wash Jesus,” Mary replied. “I had the same dream,” Joseph commented. “How strange that all the idols in the towns we enter are to crumble and fall to the ground,” Mary commented out of her amazement at the power of the Lord. “It is as it should be,” said Joseph. “God had ordained that these events to be as we travel throughout Egypt,” Joseph responded. They were getting close to Old Cairo now as the many miles began to shrink. Later that evening around 7:00 while the sun was going down they entered the marketplace of Mostorod. Here again the stone idols crumbled and fell to the ground. Mary and Joseph quickly passed through town and found a small bathing place outside of town where Mary bathed the infant Jesus. No one in the town knew who they were or where they had come from. All they knew is that they were Jews from a foreign country. Mary was not aware that on their return trip Jesus and her would cause another spring to gush forth in Mostorod. There was no time to rest in Mostorod because he again the towns folk were angry that someone had caused their stone idols to crumble and fall to the ground. Ten miles outside Mostorod, Joseph stopped for the evening rest. They huddled together near an olive tree and prepared their bed for the evening. The air was cold as usual and Joseph and Mary and Jesus had to wrap an extra layer of clothing around them to ward off the desert cold.
Tradition has it that a traveler on the caravan road from Judea told Joseph that a large group of soldiers on horseback were but a day travel behind them. Mary and Joseph were worried. Mary noticed that a nearby farmer was planting seeds in his field. She asked the farmer when he has started seeding his field and he replied, “ I started seeding yesterday and today.” Mary had a vision in the night, and the next day she told the farmer that some soldiers of Herod were chasing them and would soon come by. She did not want the farmer to lie to the soldiers about when he saw the Holy family go by, so she sprinkled some water she had in her goat sack over the field the farmer had just planted. “The Lord will provide,” Mary prayed. The farmer did not understand what Mary was doing and neither did Joseph. The next day as they were about to leave and suddenly the field had a month’s growth in just one day. After the Holy family left on their journey to Phillippos the Soldiers of Herod arrived, and they stopped and asked the farmer had he seen a couple with an infant travel by. The farmer not wanting to lie told the soldiers that he had indeed seen this couple ride by when he first planted his field. The soldiers looked at the field which was very high and determined that there was at least a months growth. Realizing the Holy family was a month ahead of them they became discouraged, and turned around and headed back to Judea.
Belbeis (Ancient Phillippos) 55 kilometers or 34.1 miles from Old Cairo
The next day the Holy Family continued on their journey to Belbeis (ancient Pillippos) that was a long 34-mile trek from Mostorod. “The journey will be longer today Mary,” Joseph commented. “God will guide us as usual, ”Mary commented. “I will set a faster pace today to get us to Phillippos before late evening. The Lord was with them that day, and the 34 miles went swiftly and they entered the town of Phillippos at 8:00 that evening. Mary was exhausted and when she got off the donkey she rested under a tree. To this day the tree is called “The Virgin Mary’s tree.” They ate , fed the donkey and collapsed into a deep sleep that evening. Soon their journey would be over in Old Cairo where there was a community of Jews living there. Joseph wondered if the soldiers of Herod were still behind them or not.
The next morning they arose, ate and continued on their journey. God had revealed himself to Joseph in a dream that night before that they would have to cross the Nile river at Meniet Samanoud (Meniet Genah) in order to get to Samanoud. When they reached the Nile River they took time to wash up and water the donkey. They one gold piece left that was enough to get them across the Nile on a ferry barge. Mary was amazed at the size of the Nile River, and how long and wide it was. “Truly this is a creation of God,” Mary said to Joseph. “Look at how wide and long this Nile River is,” Mary exclaimed. Joseph was also impressed with the size of the Nile River. The coolness of the Nile River around his legs felt wonderful, as Joseph stood knee deep in the river when he got off the raft. “Now that we have crossed the Nile, we are almost to Babylon (old Cairo),” Joseph commented. “It is good that God’s will has come to pass,” said Mary. There were many different nations of people on the river raft that day. Nubians, Egyptians, Jews, and Philistines were all traveling to Cairo. Here in the Nile Delta the farmlands were rich with dark black dirt, and thousands of acres of crops. Tradition has it that here in Meniet Samanoud Mary kneaded some dough on a granite trough for the Holy Family. At the well nearby Mary drew water for Joseph and Jesus, and they stayed a few days to rest up from their long journey. They filled their goatskins with water and found a shady place to stay and rest for a few days. Herod’s soldiers did not appear and the fear of them catching up to the Holy family subsided.
Meniet Samanoud (Meniet Genah)
After a few days of rest Joseph informed Mary that they would be entering the town of Sakha (Pekha-Issout or Lysous) later that day. They reached Sakha in a day’s journey, and searched for a place to stay. They found an abandoned home foundation on the edge of the town. Tradition has it that here the infant Jesus touched a rock leaving an imprint of his foot in bas-relief. It was another miracle of God to show the local people that this was Jesus, Son of God. Mary did not believe that by Jesus stepping on a rock that his foot impression would be made, but sure enough there was the impression in the rock in front of her eyes. “Truly the power of the Lord is great, and the bounty he has provided us with,” Mary prayed. They stayed in Sakha for several days replacing their water supply, and buying more food in the town marketplace. Wherever they went people were taken by Mary’s appearance, and they always asked, “Where was she from and what was the infant’s name?” Mary was always polite, but never revealed that they were from Israel. Joseph traded the donkey in the marketplace for a stronger and younger donkey, since their donkey was to tired, and without strength to continue the journey. Joseph had some frankincense the Magii had given him left and he offered that and the old donkey helped seal the barter.
Heliopolis (Old Cairo) and the Jewish Ain Shams settlement
They left after a few days to cross the Belgas Wastelands in the western desert of Egypt. Their goal was to reach Matareya that was only ten kilometers or 6.2 miles from the city of Heliopolis (Old Cairo). Ain Shams was a settlement of Jews and was home to a large Jewish population. They had erected a temple synagogue of Unias. The Holy family would be welcome in this Jewish settlement. Once again another miracle occurred where Mary rested on a rock a spring gushed forth from the earth. Those around at the time all wondered at the miracle that had occurred. “Who is this Mary of Nazareth, and Joseph the Carpenter,” the townsfolk inquired. “Hail Joseph, where do you come from,” many Egyptians asked him. “I am from Bethlehem in Judeo, and we are visiting relatives in Ain Shams,” Joseph said. “Is it not true that your wife Mary brought forth a new spring in our village,” several Egyptians asked Joseph. “I do not know of this spring you mentioned,” Joseph denied Mary’s miracle. He was afraid that the Egyptians would feat that the Holy family was cursed and force them out of town. Fortunately, no stone idols crumbled or fell to the ground in Ain Shams.
So the Holy family rested in Ain Shams for many months. Mary was beginning to feel that they could live in this place forever. Many towns’ people came to see the miracle Mary had created in forming a spring to spurt forth from the ground. Egyptians and Jews alike were amazed at this miracle and the beauty and grace of Mary and her infant Jesus. They made friends in the Jewish community of Ain Shams, and worshipped in the temple synagogue of Unias. Finally, it seemed they had reached their final destination and God would provide for them. Joseph went out to seek labor in which he could earn some wages in building. Mary trying to help did some stitching and helped her neighbors with their chores. Their life was beginning to come together, although they longed for their homeland.
After six months with only petty jobs to be had, Joseph decided to more on to Misr El Kadima to seek better employment, and a house to live in. Tradition has it that upon entering the town of Misr El Kadima the local stone idols crumbled, and fell to the ground as they had in many other towns they had visited. Mary was afraid because these events usually made the local townsfolk angry and cause them to drive the Holy family out of the town. The Governon of Fustat, when he heard of the crumbling of the stone idols, was enraged. He sent out his soldiers to seek out the culprits. When the soldiers returned they informed the Governor of Fustat that a Jewish family from Bethlehem was to blame. They also found that the mother, Mary and the Child Jesus had miraculous powers. They claimed that it was the power of their Jewish God that caused the statutes to fall and not them personally.
The Holy family was again forced to flee when they learned from a friend that the Governor of Fustat wanted to have the infant Jesus killed for making the idols fall down in the town. Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled the town and hid in a cave called Abu Serga. The cave was small but comfortable. Mary began to wonder if they would ever be safe in Egypt?
The next day the Holy family left for the Maadi where they boarded a sailing boat, and headed up the Nile river. Joseph had to use the last of a few coins he had left to pay for the boat. They docked at Deir-Al-Garmous 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles west of Adhnein El Nassara. They rested here for a day, and then continued to get as far away from Heliopolis (old Cairo) as possible to avoid the wrath of the Governor of Fustat. “Mary I know you are afraid, but it is God’s will that he crumble the stone idols of the Egyptians,“ Joseph said. “We must have faith that God will find us a home where we can live, and not have to worry about anyone killing Jesus,” Joseph said. “You are right my husband,” Mary responded.
Later that evening they entered Abai Issous “The Home of Jesus.” The present day Sandafa village east of Al-Bahnassa 17 kilometers west of Beni Mazar. (10.5 miles). They journeyed to Bahnassa, and finally to Samalout where they had to cross the Nile again. Being that they were foreigners, few people offered them shelter or food. The Holy family rested in a cave at Gabal El Kaf “Palm Mountain.” It was here they lived peacefully for six months. Mary was feeling tense and tired from having to flee every town and village they came to. Finally, the cave at Gaval El Kar offered some shelter and protection from the elements. Joseph sought some labor locally to help them buy some food, and Mary settled in to caring for Jesus. He was a bright child and had a good appetite. She was still breast feeding him and giving him some chopped up dried fish and dried fruit from time to time. Joseph helped a local person repair their house roof and received some chickens and food for his services. The journey had been long and they had been in Egypt for several years now.
Gabal El Tair-Samalout (Minia)
Tradition has it that another miracle was said to have occured at the Laurel tree south of Gabal El-Tair. The tree is called “Al Abed,” “The Worshipper,” it is said to worship Jesus, branches incline downward, and then upward. Mary, Joseph and Jesus were said to have passed this way. “Joseph do you see how beautiful the laurel tree branches swoop down,” Mary exclaimed to Joseph one day as they rode by the laurel tree that was to become “Al Abed.” Everywhere the Holy family went in the old days of Egypt there seem to be some kind of miracle. Mary did not intentionally cause these miracles; rather the Angels of God seem to have acted on their own in proclaiming the “Son of God.” The miracles were as good and bad for the Holy family. When a miracle occurred it attracted attention, and many people from around the area came to see the woman known as the “Virgin Mary.” The bad part of the miracles is that evil men were also drawn to the miracles for their own gain. Often they had to flee a town when the people began to get out of control. Some townspeople offered food and gifts to the Holy family and Mary was most grateful. They were always considered “foreigners,” wherever they went.
Nazet Ebeid, (Minia)
Once day they came to Nazet Ebeid on the Nile and they had to cross over the Nile to get to the city. A raft was available for the Holy family, and their donkey for a small coin Joseph had left. The river currents were strong that day and Mary worried for the infant Jesus. Joseph consoled her as the raft slowly crossed the Nile. When they got to the other side, they stopped and rested at the outskirts of Nazet Ebeid. Here again was another mysterious town they had to adjust to, and find water and shelter. They were never invited by any town’s folk to stay in their home or eat of their food. The townspeople looked on them as some strange foreigners that seemed to have magical powers. “Mary we are going to stay here for a day or so, and then move on to Al-Ashmounein the following day,” Joseph said. “It is good my husband, because I am weary of traveling,” Mary commented. Joseph went into Nazet Ebeid to the marketplace to see if they had a town well where he could refill their goatskins with water. He had also hoped to barter with some local people for some dried meat and dried fruit. One such merchant named El Akim drove a hard bargain in exchange for some gold pieces Joseph had saved. Joseph had managed to buy some goat meat that was dried, figs and dates. Mary would be happy that he was successful in bartering for food since they were running low of supplies.
When Joseph returned to Mary and Jesus whom were waiting outside of town they sat down and ate their dinner for the day. Joseph said a few prayers of thanks before they ate their meal of flat bread, dried goat meat, figs and dates. The air cooled off quickly that evening, as Mary lay with Jesus, breast-feeding while she looked at the many stars in the sky. “Isn’t it amazing how many stars there are in the sky,” Mary said. Joseph responded by saying, “as many as the grains of sand in the desert, and all different.” “Do you think that some day our son will become a leader or king among men as the Angel promised,” Mary asked. “I do not know my love, but I do know that God is with us in our journey and always protecting us when we are in need,” Joseph exclaimed. “My spirit and belief in the Lord has grown these many years in Egypt. I do not know when we can return to our village of Nazareth, but I hope it is God’s will,” Joseph remarked.
Al-Ashmounein (Hermpolis Magna)…
Several days later after a good rest the Holy family decided to move on to Al-Ashmounein (Hermpolis Magna). It was only a half-day journey, and they entered the town that was bustling with people in the marketplace. Unfortunately the stone idols again began to crumble and fall to the ground. The townspeople became angry and forced the Holy Family out of town. Mary was visibly upset about the miracles and the negative image it gave them in every town. Joseph tried to calm her to prevent her from crying. “We will stay at the next town called Dairout Al-Sharif,” Joseph said and they continued on the dusty dirt road.
Dairout AL-Sharif (Philes) 12.4 miles
The Holy family arrived in Dairout Al-Sharif (Philes) in the later afternoon of the next day. The donkey needed water and rest so Joseph was forced to seek shelter. A grove of trees off the caravan road seemed like a safe place to rest. The heat of the day was especially intense that day, and there were no travelers on the caravan road. Mary and Joseph prayed and washed off Jesus afterward with a wet rag. Mary and Joseph had darkened considerably from being exposed to the sun all the time. She kept Jesus wrapped up to protect him from the sun. “Is God watching over us today,” Mary asked Joseph. “ He is always watching over us Mary,” Joseph responded in a positive manner. His feet were killing him and he needed a new pair of sandals. Perhaps in the next town he could barter for a pair of sandals.
Qussgam (Qost-Qoussiia) and Meir (Meira)
The Holy Family passed through Qussgam and Meir the next day but did not stop except to refill their goatskins with water. It seemed important to Joseph that they make distance between them and Cairo. Mount Gabal in the distance was Joseph’s goal for the day. It would offer caves for shelter and water from the mountain springs. Here they could rest longer and build up their strength. As the sun began to set they came upon Mount Gabel and a large cave half the way up the mountain. A small spring was located nearby which would provide them with water and many wild olive trees grew around the base of the mountain. Truly God had provided once again. Joseph fetched some water while Mary breastfed Jesus.
After feeding and watering the donkey they sat down in the comfort of the cave, and ate sitting upon some rocks. It was the last of the dried goat they had left that night. Mary and Joseph would seek out some olives and other wild plants on the next day. They all fell fast asleep from fatigue that night and all that was to be seemed well.
Gabal Mount Qussqam, Assuit (327 kilometers south of Cairo or 203 miles)
Joseph did not know at the time but the Holy Family was 203 miles south of Heliopolis (old Cairo). Here at Gabal Mount Quussam, Assuit, they felt safe enough to stay in a cave. One night when Joseph was sleeping an Angel appeared to him and said it was safe to return to Israel, for Herod was dead. When Joseph awoke he was overjoyed to tell Mary the good news. “Mary, Mary, the Angel of the Lord came to me in my sleep, and told me to return to Israel our home. Herod is dead, and it was safe for us now to return home,” Joseph shouted. “Thank God,” Mary exclaimed. They packed up their belongings, and left the next day to return to Israel, not to Jerusalem, but to Nazareth where it would be safe for them and Jesus.
And so the return journey retracing their steps through Egypt, but giving Cairo a wide avoidance. Their journey took them many months through Mount Dronka- Assiut- 8 kilometers or 4.9 miles southwest of Assiut, and back around Heliopolis (Old Cairo), Matariyah, Mahamma, back to the Sinai Peninsula, and finally back to Galilee, and to Nazareth. All in all they traveled over 2,000 miles over four years in their exile journey to Egypt and back. It was truly a miracle they survived the perils of Egypt.