Part two of the life of Jesus.
Now a few questions, did the Holy family flee to Egypt? Where in Egypt did they flee too? When did they return? And lastly when was the date, and year of Jesus’s birth?
We shall answer the last question first, He was believed that he was born in the time of Herod the Great, but there is a problem Herod the Great lived and died before Jesus was born? Therefore if he was born in the time of Herod the Great, Then the ruler of Judea, but the record show that Herod TG was born 73BCE and died 4BCE before Jesus was born. If it was the time of his successor, Herod Archelos, his son, born 23BCE and died 18CE. So if born in Herod TG’s reign then our calendar is wrong out by ten or twenty years, or if he was born in Herod TG’s son’s reign then again our calendar is wrong. But the short answer does it matter, Jesus existed let the scholars argue over the exact date of Jesus’s birth, the dates are unimportant, what is important, is the life, teaching and examples of Jesus.
Back to the first questions, did the Holy family flee to Egypt? There is enough evidence to prove they did [it is mentioned in the Quran] where did they travel to; IMHO I believe they went to Alexandria. Reason there was a large Jewish community, Joseph as a carpenter would have found it easy to get a job there and he may have even had relatives living there.
How they got to Alexandria, even at that time there was coastal shipping along the Mediterranean coastline either north up to what is now Turkey and across the Mediterranean via Cyprus and Crete, across the Adriatic to Italy. Or south along the coast past what is Gaza, across the Nile delta to Alexandria, then continuing on along the coast before heading north to Crete and again across the Adriatic to Italy. [All roads, and sailing routes lead to Rome]
So as I believe the Holy family sought passage with a boat sailing to Rome via Alexandria. With a young baby, to walk would have been very arduous, as I stated before I don’t think Joseph was short of a bob or two.
On arriving in Alexandria Joseph would have sort out the local Jewish community, synagogue any relatives. In Jewish tradition family is family, even if a distant relative. [I suppose what a Muslim family would do in a foreign country] They would have found accommodation for themselves, and employment for Joseph, so that he could support his family.
When did they return? The first mention of Jesus being back in Galilea was in Jerusalem, when the family travelled there from Nazareth to celebrate pass-over. Now the only reason to travel all the way from Nazareth was for something really important, so I am assuming that it was for Jesus’s Bar Mitzvah, not essential to go to Jerusalem, but it is sometime the done thing for the first born male child. Has the Bar Mitzvah takes place around 13-14 years of age. [More of Jesus’s first visit to Jerusalem later.]
It could mean that the Holy family spent up to 10 or 11 years in Egypt. The story in the Bible says they stayed till they heard of Herod’s death, which one, Father of son? It also mentions that Joseph avoids going through Jerusalem to get to Nazareth to avoid Herod.
So after finding a home, obtaining a job for Joseph, the next thing would be to look for a school for Jesus, both religious and secular. The Jewish people appear to have an aptitude for administration, [they also served as administrators, accountants for the Ottoman Empire] so it would not be too impossible to think that they would be doing similar work in Alexandria.
Now knowledge is an important possession even now, so it would certainly of been of some importance then. At that time Alexandria had a magnificent library set up, by the Greek, Alexandria the Great, who built the city named after him. In the library was all the known scientific, medical, historical and philosophical knowledge of that time. So if Jesus’s early learning, say up to 10 or 11 took place in Alexandria, teachers who had access to this library may have taught him?
The Jesuit’s, who teach in Catholic colleges have a saying, “give me the boy till he is seven, and I will give you the man.” This is very true, most of our ideas and attitude to life we develop in our early years, mainly from our family, immediate neighbours and school. [It’s still the same today]
So we have Jesus growing in Alexandria, being taught formally at the local school. Also he would have learnt about the number of times that Egypt had been conquered over the centuries. After it ceased being a united kingdom in 1000BCE, after being united [Upper and Lower Egypt] for almost a 1000 years.
750BCE the Nubian King Piy conquers Egypt from the south. Then in 670BCE the Assyrians attack and invade Egypt from the North. In 525BCE the Persians conquer Egypt, from the north, as well as most of the Middle East and parts of Greece.
325BC Alexander the Great conquers Egypt and established the city of Alexandria before conquering the Persian Empire. 305BCE Ptolemy [who is a Greek] takes control of Egypt and starts the Ptolemy Dynasty which rule Egypt for almost 300 years, the last 20 or so years as a loosely controlled client state of Rome till it got involved in a fight for power between Mark Antony and Octavia, both Roman Generals and both vying for control of Rome.
Mark Antony was the consort of Cleopatra [the last Ptolemy ruler] and with her fleet aided Mark Antony in his fight against Octavia. A battle took place in 31BCE [The Battle of Actium] in which Antony loses. Augustus goes on to take control of Egypt [Cleopatra commits suicide rather then be made a subject of Rome and a puppet Queen] Egypt then officially becomes a Roman Province.
The Roman conquest of Egypt would have been recent history when Jesus was being educated in Alexandria, but no doubt he would have been taught much about Egypt’s history. After all we are taught about our countries history in our education, so there is no need to think it would be different in Alexandria.
So from Jesus’s early years in Alexandria he may have gained some knowledge [both Jewish and secular] about Egyptian culture. Also the fact that empires rise and fall, nothing remains the same forever.
Next the Holy Family returns to Galilea