The Exodus of Saint Mary and Lord Jesus Christ
Saint Mary and Lord Jesus Christ’s exodus to and from Egypt as well as Ethiopia, is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is a story recounted in the Gospel of Matthew and in New Testament apocrypha. Soon after the visit by the Magi, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to flee to Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus since King Herod would seek the child to kill him. Later, after Herod’s death, Lord Jesus’ family departed Egypt for Nazareth where they made their home. (Matthew 2:13–23)
Saint Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem in 5 B.C. before the birth of Jesus Christ along with Salome, the disciple. The family moved to Egypt after Joseph was told in a dream to flee to the now North African country to escape the command of Herod the Great to slaughter children in and around Bethlehem. They reached Egypt after a 65 kilometers journey where they lived for three years until after the death of Herod in 4 B.C. when Joseph had a dream that it is safe to return to Israel.
In Matthew’s Gospel, it is written about the young family fleeing to Egypt out of fear of King Herod. Incredibly, the apparition on Saint Mary’s roof returned the following week, and continued intermittently through the summer months; returning several times a week, sometimes for hours at a time, other times for only a brief moment. Joseph obeyed and took Lord Jesus and his mother by night and departed for the land of Egypt.
The Bible describes how an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph giving him instructions to take Saint Mary and the young child into Egypt. Apparently, Joseph intends that his family settle in Judea, perhaps near the town of Bethlehem, where they were living before they fled to Egypt. Joseph’s half-brothers were jealous of him; wherefore, in Dothan, most of them plotted to kill him, with the exception of Reuben, who suggested having Joseph thrown into an empty cistern, intending to rescue Joseph himself. Unaware of this secondary intention, the others obeyed him first. (Matthew 2:13, Genesis 37:18-20)
In old times, there were three paths that a traveler could pursue from Palestine to Egypt. Sources indicate that the Holy Family, when they entered Egypt, did not follow any of these three ancient paths. But they took another route unknown to the soldiers of Herod who were chasing Virgin Mary to execute her baby. It is also the reason that the Holy Family changed its place of residence in Egypt from the north, to the south, east and west. It was God’s destiny that Herod should die before he could reach his evil goal. God restored the Holy Family to their home safe and secure; To let the world reveal the following pages of the three Celestial Beliefs.
All Eastern and Western sources agreed on that the means of transportation that carried Virgin Saint Mary and her son was a donkey, while Joseph tagged along according to the Eastern traditions. This picture was not strange in the Bible, since the Exodus described the return of the Prophet Moses from the country of the Midianites to Egypt.
The arrival of Jesus Christ and the Holy Family is an important event that took place in Egypt. The story starts with a group of wise men declaring Lord Jesus as the next king of the Jews. That’s why King Herod (Ruler of Judea at the time) felt threatened and decided to kill him.
The Holy Family passed three locations in North Sinai, eighteen locations in Nile Valley and Delta, visited Wadi Al Natroun in the Western desert, Jabal Al Tair in the Eastern desert and crossed the main River Nile’s course four times.
From there, they moved to Tel Basta where Jesus performed a miracle. He blessed the place by causing a water spring to well up from the ground. The Family then reached Mostorod, also known as el Mahamaah, meaning the bathing place. A name that was given to the town Virgin Mary bathed in child Jesus and washed his clothes. After that, the Holy Family made their way to Belbeis where they sat under the shades of a sycamore tree, later known as the “Virgin Mary’s Tree.” When they crossed the Nile to the city of Samanoud, Jesus hollowed water well. While in Sakha, it is believed Jesus touched stone and pure water thrust from it.
The Holy Family then traveled westward to the Valley of Natroun. The Valley was the monasticism’s first home in the world to practice chastity and meditating God. They eventually headed to Cairo’s districts of Matariyah and Ain Shams where Jesus created a water well and blessed it. Then Virgin Mary washed Jesus’s cloth pouring the water onto the ground which blossomed the Balsam tree. Balsam essence is used for the preparation of the Holy Myron. They moved on to Old Cairo where they took refuge in a cave. At this site the Church of Abi Serja, within the walls of the Fortress of Babylon, was built years later. The whole area has become a place of pilgrimage for Egyptians and Christians from around the globe. They then set out to Al-Maadi, where the Virgin Mary Church was built by the Nile; From where the Family embarked a sailing boat heading southwards.
The Family then headed to Minya from which they crossed to the east bank of the Nile. There stands the Monastery of the Virgin on top of the Gabal Al-Kaf (Mountain of the Palm). It is believed that Jesus left an imprint of his palm on a stone in the mountain.
From that speck, the Family crossed the Nile back west, to Qussqam in Assiut. They stayed for more than six months, longer than any other place in Egypt. In that area, the Monastery of Al-Moharraq was built. Later, in the same spot, an angel appeared in Joseph’s dream telling him to return to Palestine as Herod was dead. The Holy Family took almost the same route on their journey back to Palestine, after spending over three years in Egypt.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church acknowledges their exodus by fasting the season. Ethiopians Christians faithfully devotes in praying, fasting and other generous activities in memory of the exodus of the Holy Family and their hardship in the wilderness. They feed the needy and the travelers and provide them in the name of Holy Mother. This tradition is to commemorate the hospitality of Ethiopian mothers and fathers when she came to Ethiopia. The fasting is performed on one’s free will for it is out of the seven official fasting periods for abundant blessings one expects from God through the intercession of Saint Mary.
May the intercession of Saint Mary be with all of us!
Source: Bible Expositions