Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22971 – 1048
Here’s the haps:
The large Hebrew-speaking communities just across the Sihon River are considered Egyptian territory even though everything is under Rome. It only matters that you will be out of Herod’s jurisdiction. While the trip was rough and dangerous you were able to make it quickly. You are thankful that these communities are well-established and not only have synagogues but a temple as well. It seems odd to you that the Messiah, the Deliverer, he who would, “save his people from their sins,” would be running to the very country the people had fled from with Moses.
It is relatively simple for you to set up shop anywhere and here is no exception. As travelers come through, they fill you in on the details of what happened that night you fled. It would appear that Herod became exceedingly angry when the kings from the east had disappeared into the desert. He felt as though he was being mocked. Having obtained some useful information from them while they were with him he knew they had to go to Bethlehem. He also knew from what they said that the child had to be two years old or younger. And he was efficient. He sent his soldiers into Bethlehem and all the surrounding areas and told them to kill every male child from birth to two years old with a sword. You are told that the weeping and crying of the mothers could be heard for miles and miles. What a reprehensible villain. Could a man be any more evil? He is as bad as Pharaoh killing all the Hebrew boy babies and perhaps even worse.
You and Mary mourn and sorrow at the same time you are thankful. But your weepings and fastings and sadness turn into a kind of peaceful joy with little Jesus around and soon you find yourselves laughing again. He has been pulling himself up on furniture for a while and when that grand and glorious day comes that he toddles to you in his first few steps, you find yourselves clapping wildly and praising him.
Your business does well and you feel blessed, but you long for the day that you can go back to your own country. While you are in a community of Jews, you often deal with Egyptians as well as other strangers passing through from different lands. As Jesus grows, he becomes very inquisitive and is constantly asking questions about everything around him. Sometimes he embarrasses you with the things he asks, but you know that it is because he is so astoundingly smart. The rabbi has said that the boy could, and should, start school earlier than usual, but you are unsure as to what to do on this matter. You really don’t want to raise him among the Egyptians if you can help it. But you know that the rabbi is a good man and Jesus must be taught and raised up in the right way, so after you have prayed about it you decide it would be okay for Jesus to go to the school here.
You often go to your workshop to pray. You used to go alone, but now little Jesus follows you everywhere and watches everything you do and tries to copy it. He kneels and faces Jerusalem and raises his hands exactly the way you do and says everything you say. You feel humbled at the awesome responsibility a parent has. No wonder the Scripture enjoins you to begin his education early and diligently. He does everything he sees you do.
Yes, he must go to the synagogue school no matter what land it is in. You see that now and realize you should have seen it all along. You begin to recite the Shema and are humbled to hear how well Jesus has learned it. You listen to his young voice begin, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might…”
Finally one evening an angel appears to you again in a dream and tells you, “Take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.” And so you begin to prepare for your departure, though not as hastily this time. Travelers coming through, bringing news, tell you the awful details of Herod’s last days and his ugly death. You hear that Archelaus is ruling in Judea in his father’s stead and are warned in a dream to take the child into Galilee and you head back to Nazareth.