Matthew 2:13-15 Out of Egypt

by | Mar 3, 2021 | 01 Podcasts, Matthew

Matthew 2:13-15 Out of Egypt: Matthew tells us the life of Jesus “fulfills” something spoken by the prophet Hosea. Yet Hosea is not “predicting” anything; Hosea is looking backward to the Exodus. Matthew is pointing out the theological connection between Israel as God’s son and the Messiah, God’s son.


In Matthew 1, Matthew told us that Jesus is the Christ or the Messiah, the son of David and the son of Abraham.  As the Messiah, he is the one who fulfills the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promises to David about his throne and kingdom.

Then Matthew explained the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth mostly from Joseph’s perspective.  In chapter 2 he relates the account of the wise men finding and visiting the Jesus.

We pick up the story in Matthew 2:13-15 after the wise men have left.

Matthew 2:13-15 Out of Egypt

13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”  14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt  15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” – Matthew 2:13-15

Matthew is referring to a passage from the prophet Hosea:

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. – Hosea 11:1

The Problem

  • Hosea 11:1 refers to the time of Moses when God called his metaphorical son, the nation of Israel, out of Egypt. 
  • Matthew says that events in Jesus life somehow fulfill this passage. 
  • On the surface there is nothing to fulfill — because Hosea is not predicting any future event.  Rather he is remembering a past event.

Convictions I hold

  • I trust Matthew. I do not think Matthew is lying, mistaken or using sloppy exegesis.
  • Fulfill has two meanings: 1) predictive prophecy and 2) something is shown in its fullest example or expression. Matthew frequently uses fulfill in this second sense.
  • Matthew expects his readers to be familiar with the Old Testament.
  • Matthew expects his readers to understand the strong theological connection between the nation of Israel and the Messiah.
  • God as the author and creator of history orchestrated events in the life of the nation of Israel and events in the life of Jesus to reveal this theological connection between them. 


Hosea 11:1 refers backwards to the Exodus. 

  • God made promises to Abraham that his son Isaac inherited.  God repeated those promises to Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob inherited those promises.
  • God repeated his promises to Jacob and gave him a new name Israel.
  • Jacob had 12 sons who fathered the twelve tribes of Israel. One of those children was Joseph, who was Jacob’s favorite. 
  • His jealous brothers sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt and told his father that Joseph had died. 
  • Over many years and through a series of complicated events, Joseph rose to be Pharaoh’s right hand man.  Pharaoh was the supreme ruler of Egypt and Joseph was his number 2 man.
  • Joseph ended up saving not only Egypt during a famine but also his family.   His father, Jacob, his 11 brothers and all their family came to Egypt to escape the famine.  They were reunited with Joseph and stayed in Egypt.
  • As the children of Israel/Jacob grew in number, they became slaves in Egypt.
  • Eventually God raised up Moses to lead the people out of slavery in Egypt and back to the promised land. 
  • God miraculously saved Moses from execution as a baby and Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s household.
  • One day Moses intervenes when an Egyptian guard is mistreating one of the Israelite slaves and ends up killing the guard.  Moses then has to flee Egypt and he lives in exile for many years.
  • Eventually, God tells Moses to return to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go free.
  • Eventually, Pharaoh does let them leave under the leadership of Moses.

Son of God

21And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.  22Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son,  23and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”  – Exodus 4:21-23

  • God calls the young nation of Israel his first born son.
  • Culturally the first born son was second only to the father in authority; and the way you treated the son reflected the way you treated the father.
  • The first born son had the largest inheritance and received the greatest blessing.
  • The nation of Israel is like God’s first-born son.  The Father stands behind them.  When you deal with them, you are dealing with God.
  • Much later in Israel’s history, the Davidic king is called God’s first born son (e.g. Psalm 89:20-29).
  • The throne of David is the means by which God is going to fulfill the promises he made to Abraham and his descendants.
  • God intends to bless the nation of Israel and bless the world through one particular son of Abraham and son of David, the promised King, the Messiah who we know to be Jesus.
  • Jesus is also described as the first-born son of God.


  • The Exodus is the event in which God delivers His people from slavery in Egypt.
  • After the Exodus, God eventually settles His people in the promised land and eventually gives them King David. 
  • After the death of David’s son, Solomon, there is a civil war.  The kingdom divides into a northern and southern kingdom.  With two separate sons of David each claiming to be the next Davidic king. 
  • The people in both the northern and southern kingdoms turn away from God. 
  • Eventually God tells the northern kingdom that He is bringing Assyria to judge them for their disobedience and they will become slaves once again.
  • Hosea is writing about this Assyrian conquest. 
  • In Hosea 10:15-11:7: Bethel is a city in the northern Kingdom.  Israel and Ephraim are both names for the northern kingdom. 

10:15Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great evil. At dawn the king of Israel shall be utterly cut off.  11:1When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.  2The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols.  3Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them.  4I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.  5They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me.  6The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them because of their own counsels.  7My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the Most High, he shall not raise them up at all.  8How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.  9I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.  10They shall go after the LORD; he will roar like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west;  11they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria, and I will return them to their homes, declares the LORD. – Hosea 10:15-11:11

  • The people have done great evil, they have rebelled against God and ignored His ways.  To discipline them, God says, Assyria will conquer them. 
  • God reminds them that at one time He rescued them from slavery in Egypt.  But now because of their sin they are going back into slavery through Assyria. 
  • Hosea is echoing the language of Moses. 
  • Moses told Pharaoh that the nation of Israel was His firstborn son. Here as God looks back on that time, He refers to them as my son.
  • Hosea predicts both judgment and restoration (Hosea 11:8-11).
  • There will be a new Exodus and God will gather His people once again.


13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”  14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt  15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”  – Matthew 2:13-15

  • Matthew sees a picture of the Exodus in the life of the young Jesus. 
  • God communicated with the patriarch Joseph through dreams.  The Old Testament Joseph protected the young nation by taking them to Egypt to survive the famine.  Eventually God led them out of Egypt back to the promised land where they would fulfill their destiny.
  • Likewise, God communicates with the New Testament Joseph through dreams.  Joseph protected the young Jesus by taking him to Egypt.  Eventually, God led him out of Egypt and back to the land of Israel where he would fulfill his destiny.
  • In Hosea, we see that the nation of Israel has failed in their great mission and destiny. Because they have disobeyed the Lord, God is judging them and taking them back into exile. 
  • In Hosea, God also promises that one day they will be gathered once again as His people in a new exodus and this “exodus” will work.
  • Jesus is the son who will bring Israel’s sonship to fruition.  In contrast to the nation of Israel who failed, this son will succeed. 
  • This time the son of God will fulfill his mission such that God can bring blessing and redemption to the world.  This is the true and fullest picture of Exodus. 

Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.

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Series: Gospel of Matthew: Behold, the King!

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Podcast season 18, episode 5