Where in Egypt Did Joseph and Mary Take Jesus?
Joseph was warned that he and Mary needed to leave the Holy Land for Egypt in order to save Jesus’ life:
When they [the wise men] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son” (NIV Matthew 2:13, 14).
Many Jews lived in Egypt at the time. When Christ was born, there were 1 million Jews living in Alexandria, Egypt, which is on the Mediterranean coast. Other towns around Alexandria also had Jewish populations. Jews had settled also in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Noph, and Pathros in Egypt. But there is one other fascinating place where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus may have sojourned.
Elephantine is an island in the Nile that borders Nubian lands. Around 650 B.C. the Jews set up a military outpost on the island and later, the Jews there obtained permission to build a temple. There are traditions that Mary and Joseph took Jesus there.
Another traditional view of the family’s journey into Egypt
Although there is no proof, other traditions hold that Mary and Joseph avoided cities with large populations of Jews, such as Alexandria, but that they did travel through northern Egypt in the Nile River Delta. These traditions say they traveled to the town of Basta near the large, modern city of Zagazig. Later, they arrived in the town of Belbeis. They eventually arrived at the Roman fortress Babylon, which controlled the Nile river’s traffic at a place just south of modern Cairo. Over a cave there, in which the family is believed to have stayed, was later built the Church of St. Sergis.
“The family is said to have sailed for upper Egypt [toward the south] from the spot where the Church of the Holy Virgin in Maadi now stands. Their long trip, mostly by boat but partly by foot, took them eventually to the Qousqam Mountains. It is believed that the Holy Family lived here in a cave. It is in this cave that the angel is said to have appeared to Joseph, instructing him to take the child and Mary back to their home.” Tradition says a miracle occurred in each place where they chose to stay.