Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead who sought the young child's life.
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Eusebius of Caesarea
Eccles. Hist., 1, 8: For the sacrilege which Herod had committed against the Saviour, and his wicked slaughter of the infants of the same age, the Divine vengeance hastened his end; and his body, as Josephus relates, was attacked by a strange disease; so that the prophets declared that they were not human ailments, but visitations of Divine vengeance. Filled with mad fury, he gives command to seize and imprison the heads and nobles out of all parts of Judaea; ordering that as soon as ever he should breathe his last, they should be all put to death, that so Judaea, though unwillingly, might mourn at his decease. Just before he died he murdered his son, Antipater,(besides two boys put to death before, Alexander and Aristo ulus.)Such was the end of Herod, noticed in those words of the Evangelist, “whenHerod was dead,” and such the punishment inflicted.
Joseph therefore comes to Nazareth, partly to avoid the danger, partly also delighting to abide in his native place. To give him the more courage, he receives also an oracle from the angel touching this matter. Luke, however, does not say that he came there by Divine warning, but that when they had fulfilled all the purification, they returned to Nazareth. Luke 2:39 What then may one say? That Luke is giving an account of the time before the going down to Egypt, when he says these things. For He would not have brought them down there before the purification, in order that nothing should be done contrary to the law, but he waited for her to be purified, and to go to Nazareth, and that then they should go down to Egypt. Then, after their return, He bids them go to Nazareth. But before this they were not warned of God to go there, but yearning after their native place, they did so of their own accord. For since they had gone up for no other cause but on account of the taxing, and had not ...
See how Joseph was set for ministering to Mary; when she went into Egypt and returned, who would have fulfilled to her this so needful ministry, had she not been betrothed? For to outward view, Mary nourished and Joseph defended the Child; but in truth the Child supported His mother and protected Joseph. "Return into the land of Israel;” for He went down into Egypt as a physician, not to abide there, but to succour it sick with error. But the reason of the return is given in the words, “They are dead.”.
And that is said to have been done by the counsel of God for their conspiring with Herod against the Lord; as it is said, “Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”
But if they were many who sought his destruction, how came they all to have died in so short a time? As we have related above, all the great men among the Jews were slain at Herod’s death.
Or the Evangelist uses a figure of speech, by which the plural is used for the singular. These words, “the Child’s life,” overthrow those heretics