Wise Men From the East
(1) Jesus was born about six miles (9 km) south of Jerusalem in the town of Bethlehem (which had a population of around 1,000), in the region of Judea in southern Israel, during the rule of King Herod the Great. (Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC).
Some time after Jesus’ birth (probably around two years), wise men (Magi) traveled from the east to Jerusalem (they probably traveled around 900 miles from the region of Babylon, which would have taken several months). (2) They asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star rising in the east, and we have come to worship him.”
(3) When King Herod the Great heard this, he and all in Jerusalem were greatly troubled. (4) Herod gathered together all the Jewish chief priests and teachers of the law of Moses and asked them where the Messiah (Christ) was to be born. (5) They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for it is written in Micah 5:2, (6) ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
(7) Then Herod met with the wise men in private and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared to them. (8) Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. And as soon as you find him, immediately report back to me, so that I too can go and worship him.”
(9) After they had heard from King Herod, the wise men went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east led them to the house where the child Jesus was. (10) They were filled with joy when they saw the star. (11) They went into the house and saw the child Jesus with his mother Mary, and they bowed down in prostration and worshiped Jesus. Then they opened their treasures and gave him gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh (a fragrant resin extracted from a special tree and used for perfume, incense, and medicine).
(12) And the wise men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back to their own country by another route.
Jesus’ Family Escapes to Egypt
(13) When the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take Mary and the child Jesus and escape to Egypt, for Herod will search for Jesus to kill him. Stay in Egypt until I tell you when to return to Israel.”
(14) So Joseph got ready and took Mary and Jesus and left that night. They traveled to the Roman province of Egypt (probably a journey of about 300 miles/483 km to the large Jewish community in the city of Alexandria). (15) They lived there until the death of King Herod the Great, fulfilling what is written in Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
King Herod Tries to Kill Jesus
(16) Herod the Great was furious when he realized that the wise men had fooled him. So he ordered his soldiers to kill every boy in the village of Bethlehem and its surrounding area. He commanded them to kill every boy two years old or younger, based on the time he had learned from the wise men.
(17) This fulfilled what is written in Jeremiah 31:15, (18) “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, for they are no more.”
Jesus’ Family Moves to Nazareth
(19) After Herod the Great died (in March/April 4 BC), an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, (20) “Get up, take Mary and the child Jesus and go to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill Jesus are dead.” (Jesus’ family had probably been living in Egypt for about one year).
(21) So Joseph got up, and took Mary and the child Jesus and traveled to the land of Israel. (22) But he was afraid to go into the region of Judea in southern Israel for Herod Archelaus (a son of King Herod the Great) was reigning there.
Having been warned in a dream, Joseph traveled to the region of Galilee in northern Israel (23) and lived in the town of Nazareth. So this fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. (Nazareth was located about 12 miles/19 km southwest of Lake Galilee, with a population of around 500). (Herod Antipas, a son of King Herod the Great, governed the regions of Galilee and Perea for around 40 years, from 4 BC to AD 39, during the entire life and ministry of Jesus).