The Journeys of
Mary and Joseph

Submit questions  -  New Articles
The Journeys of Mary and Joseph

Nazareth to Bethlehem

Nazareth is the hometown of Mary and Joseph. In 5 B.C., just before the birth of Christ, the Romans require them to travel to Joseph's ancestral home (he was of the lineage of King David) of Bethlehem. The couple travels the roughly 80 miles (about 129 kilometers) to the city, where Christ will be ultimately born in a manger (Luke 2:1 - 20). His birth fulfills the prophecy found in Micah 5:2 and in many other places. On the eighth day after he is born he is circumcised according to the law of God (Luke 2:21).

Family Tree from Abraham to Jesus

How wealthy were the MAGI?

Was Egypt the greatest empire in history?

Map of the Egyptian Empire

Bethlehem to Jerusalem and back

Forty days after Jesus is born, fulfilling the purification requirement of Leviticus 12, Mary and family travel to Jerusalem's temple to present him before God. The trip is only 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) long. His parents make an offering to the temple of two young birds. It is during their visit that a priest named Simeon prophesied about Jesus' mission in life and blessed his parents (Luke 2:22 - 35). Before Mary and Joseph leave the temple to return home a woman named Anna, a widowed prophetess who lived in the house of God, blesses them as well (Luke 2:36 - 38).

Bethlehem to Egypt

It is in Bethlehem, more than a year after Jesus' birth, that the wise men (Magi) from the East arrive to worship the King of Kings with Mary in attendance (Matthew 2:11). After the wise men leave an angel tells Joseph, in a dream, to flee to Egypt (verse 13). This is because Herod the Great issued a command that all male children two years old and younger, in and around Bethlehem, are to be put to death (Matthew 2:16). Herod's cruel actions fulfill a prophecy regarding the slaughter of innocent children.

15. Thus says the LORD, "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel (buried near Bethlehem, she was one of Jacob's wives) weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children because they are not" (Jeremiah 5:15, Holy Bible in Its Original Order - A Faithful Version throughout)

Their journey from Bethlehem to what is Egyptian-controlled territory (which was outside the jurisdiction of Herod) was at least 65 kilometers (40 miles).

Egypt to Judea and Nazareth

After Herod dies, Joseph has a dream where an angel tells him it is safe to return to Israel. The family's trip to and from Egypt is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy (Hosea 11:1). They soon begin their travel back to Judea and Bethlehem. However, as they approach Judea, it is discovered that Herod Archelaus, the eldest surviving son of Herod the Great, is the new ruler of the area (Matthew 2:22). Like his father, Archelaus rules with tyranny and cruelty. John Gills' Exposition of the Bible states that one time he sent his entire army into Jerusalem's temple, at Passover, in order to kill 3,000 men suspected of sedition.

The fears about living within Judea are confirmed when God sends a warning in a dream. The family continues their travels northward to their hometown of Nazareth (Matthew 2:22 - 23). The city is part of Galilee, which is ruled by a another son of Herod the Great named Herod Antipas. This son had a milder disposition than Archelaus.

Mary and Joseph's travel from Egyptian territory all the way north to Nazareth was a journey of at least 106 miles (170 kilometers)!

39. Now when they had completed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40. And the little child grew and became strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him (Luke 2:39 - 40)

Jesus lives in Nazareth with his parents Mary and Joseph (which fulfills the prophecy stated in Matthew 2:23). After the death of his step-father sometime between Christ's 12th and 30th birthday, he continues to live in the city until he journeys to Capernaum to begin his public ministry.

Additional Study Materials
What does the Nazareth Stone tell us about the Gospel?
Who exactly were the MAGI?
How does God use dreams to talk to humans?
© The Bible Study Site