"out of Egypt" not a proof text (Hos 11)

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at datastream.net
Tue Dec 19 12:14:56 EST 2000


I agree that Matthew uses "fulfill" in a broader sense than the
accomplishment of events specifically intended in the mind of the original
writer. It can include typology and with good basis since the OT itself
establishes typological significance to many of its symbolic furniture &
functions (e.g., Ex. 25ff was only after an oft-repeated "pattern"), offices
(e.g., use of "order" in Psm. 110; ref. to a new "David" in Ezek.), or
events (e.g., the Exodus).

Concerning Hosea 11:1 and Matthew, one problem is that interpreters of Hosea
sometimes fail to understand the text and context as well as Matthew did.
First, the Hosea 11 context is not talking about deliverance from literal
Egypt alone, for Assyria is the threat in his day. God presents Himself as
deliberating whether to allow Assyria to destroy Israel, His son (v. 5). But
how can He do that as if they were like the 5 cities of the plain (v. 8;
note: he does not use popular "Sodom & Gomorrah" indicating you have to pay
close attention to detail to understand him here!)? He will not (v. 9).
Assyria and Egypt are the same thing contextually (parallelism, v. 11); and
neither will destroy God's "son." 

Secondly, Matthew did not say that God rescued His Son, Jesus, from Egypt
when Joseph had the dream and they left geographic Egypt. Rather, it was
"fulfilled" by their entering *into* geographic (literal) Egypt! So, just as
God delivered His son, His people, in the OT times, so also He now delivers
Jesus, His Son. Literally the deliverance is *from Palestine* and Herod's
threat, and happens to be to geographic Egypt. But the order of the verses
shows that Matthew intends "Egypt" in precisely the same as Hosea's
context--metaphorically. Matthew makes an application of a universal truth,
and he quotes the salient message only in its concise, encapsulated form
from verse 1 to allude to the entire context of Hosea. 

My conclusion is that Matthew was a much better exegete of the OT than a lot
of modern scholars, and we would be wise to learn from what he says.

Dan Wagner



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