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January 7, 2016 by William H. Scarle, Jr.

Jesus Visits the Pyramids

Rosh HaShanah was past.  Jesus was born on September 11th on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Tishri 1 on the Hebrew calendar, in the year 3 BC.  After the High Holiday season was over the family returned to Nazareth to celebrate their new son with Mary’s family.  When winter was over they returned to Bethlehem where they intended to set up housekeeping in the City of David, close to the Temple. This would have been in the spring or summer of 2 BC.

Herod the Great was getting old.  Jerusalem was in turmoil.  On December 5 (Kislev 7) of 2 BC members of the party of Zealots tore down the Roman eagle Herod had placed over the gate of the Temple.  Herod had some forty of the agitators executed.  Some of them were burned alive.

On December 25, 2 BC the king planet Jupiter came to a stationary point in mid-Vergo the Virgin.  It would have been seen “stopped over Bethlehem” as viewed from Jerusalem.  Jesus would have been a toddler by that time and it was Hanukkah season.  The Magoi from the East presented their Hanukkah gifts to the new son of David.  The gifts were a bit excessive, but they did provide funds for the trip to Egypt.

Both the Magoi and Joseph were warned of the wrath of Herod in discovering a possible rival to his dynasty.  The Magoi bypassed Jerusalem on their way home and Mary and Joseph headed for Egypt.

The family would have traveled through Hebron to Gaza and along the Way of the Sea to the area of Heliopolis which is near Cairo and Giza.  There was a significant Jewish presence in Egypt at the time and the family would have found hospitality and a nearby Synagogue.

The stay in Egypt was not long.  Herod died about January 28th (Schebat 2) of 1 BC.  The family would have been in Egypt only about a month at the time.  However, the news of Herod’s death would have taken some time to reach Egypt.  The Pyramids of Giza are today on the outskirts of Cairo.  It is only my speculation, but I think Jesus would have been taken by his parents to see them.  After all, the Pyramids had been standing for a thousand years when Abraham visited Egypt around 2000 BC.

The family of Jesus likely started back to Israel in the spring of 1 BC, joining the Jewish pilgrims who were going to Jerusalem for Passover.  Pilgrims from Egypt are mentioned by Luke in his record of the Pentecost event in Acts 2.  This would make their stay in Egypt between three and four months.  They fully intended to return to Bethlehem.  When they learned that Archelaus had replaced Herod as king of Judea they decided to return north to Nazareth.  Archelaus was Herod’s elder son by his Samaritan wife Malthace.  He was so violent and aggressive that the Romans replaced him in 6 AD.  He was responsible for the slaughter of 3000 worshipers in the Temple at Passover in 1 BC.

Galilee was ruled by Herod Antipas, Herod’s younger son by Malthace.  He rebuilt the city of Sepphoris and later built Tiberius as his capital.  The rebuilding of Sepphoris may well have provided work for Joseph while Jesus was growing up.  It was only an hour’s walk from Nazareth where Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at  END-whs