Question from linda on 1/3/2008:
Does Scripture reveal how long the Holy Family stayed in Egypt? I always heard that they were in Egypt for a couple of years but the timeline is confusing: 8 days after the birth of Christ, the Holy Family circumcised and named him, I'm assuming at a local synagogue in Bethlehem? Then the Magi came, then the flight into Egypt because Herod ordered the killing of all boys 2 years and younger when the Magi didn't return to him. Then Scripture mentions that when Jesus was 6 weeks old, He was presented at the Temple. So would it be correct to deduce that the Holy Family was in Egypt for about 4-5 weeks?
Answer by Fr. John Echert on 2/18/2008:
The major events surrounding our Lord, to include the Presentation in the Temple, occured prior to the exodus of the Holy Family to Egypt. Their flight occured after the visit of the Magi, which could have been months after the birth of the Lord--consider that Herod calculated up to two years of age for the child when he ordered all two year old male infants to be slaughtered. The Holy Family was in Egypt until after the death of Herod and in the time of the reign of his son, which means they could easily have been in Egypt a couple years. Precise timing is difficult beyond this, given scant information and even confusion on the exact date and year of the birth of our Lord.