Why Not Nabatea? The Flight of Joseph’s Family from Bethlehem to Egypt and Migration to the Town of Nazareth in Galilee -- By: Bruce R. Crew
Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 19:4 (Fall 2006)
Article: Why Not Nabatea? The Flight of Joseph’s Family from Bethlehem to Egypt and Migration to the Town of Nazareth in Galilee
Author: Bruce R. Crew
BSpade 19:4 (Fall 2006) p. 119
Why Not Nabatea?
The Flight of Joseph’s Family from Bethlehem to Egypt and Migration to the Town of Nazareth in Galilee
An earlier article focused upon the possible routes taken by the Magi from their homeland to worship the Christ-Child in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, as well as their escape from King Herod via the land of the Nabateans (Crew 2005c: 102–113). The article supports the view that the town of Bethlehem in Judea comprises the site where this event transpired rather than the town of Bethlehem in the northern Israelite tribal territory belonging to Napthali, situated near the town of Nazareth in Lower Galilee. In addition, the article maintains that following their visit to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the Magi most likely traveled eastward, passing by Herod’s Herodium fortress near the town of Tekoa, located about 2.5 miles from Bethlehem. The Magi then proceeded to cross the Judean desert via the wilderness of Jeruel to the ascent of Ziz above the Dead Sea’s western shore where they descended into the town of Ein-Gedi. From the harbor at Ein-Gedi, the Magi traversed the Dead Sea by boat and landed safely somewhere in Nabatean territory along the Dead Sea’s southeastern shore. This proposed route enabled the Magi to avoid Herod’s fortress at Machaerus along the Dead Sea’s northeastern shore in the territory of Perea, as well as Herod’s fortress at Masada along the Dead Sea’s southwestern corner in his home territory of Idumea.
The main focus of this article will be a geographical-historical examination of the Nabateans in the context of events surrounding the flight of Joseph’s family from the town of Bethlehem in Judea to Egypt and their eventual decision to migrate to the town of Nazareth in Lower Galilee after their return from Egypt (Mt 2:13–23). It will also look at why the geographical domain of the Nabateans would have provided an attractive alternative to which Joseph and his family could have fled to escape Herod’s forces. Finally, it will examine why the angel who appeared in Joseph’s dreams likely directed him to flee instead with his family to Egypt, as well as migrate to the town of Nazareth in Lower Galilee rather than return to the town of Bethlehem in the Judean hill country.1
BSpade 19:4 (Fall 2006) p. 120
The Treasury at Petra, the capital city of ancient Nabatea.
Nabatean-Judean-Idumean Relations in Written Sources
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