13 When they 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.”
14 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.” [c]
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more” [d] (TNIV)
Those familiar with the story of Exodus will immediately recognize the similarities to Moses birth in how God protected him during Pharaoh’s massacre of the Hebrew male babies (Exodus 1-2). When significant events of the people of God reoccur in similar ways, it serves as evidence that God is at work anew. The Jewish people revered Moses as their deliverer, the one who rescued them from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. Jesus too will serve as the deliverer of the people of God from slavery—he will deliver them from their bondage of sin.
The quotation “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Mt 2.15) in its original context referred to the children of Israel (Hos 11.1). But here Matthew applies the text to Jesus because he, in addition to being the “new Moses,” will also play the role of the “new Israel.” He will walk in perfect obedience, suffer on our behalf, and extend God’s favor to the world. In this way, he will live up to Israel’s intended vocation. And, of at least equal importance, this verse also introduces (more explicitly) Jesus as God’s son.
The quotation of Jeremiah 31.15 with the wailing of Rachel in Mt 2.18 is curious. Some scholars suggest based on the greater context from which this text is found in Jeremiah that the point is to reassure the readers that there is “hope beyond the tragedy” (France, Gospel of Matthew, 87).
Jesus is our deliverer, and he is the Son of God. God has protected him so that he can fulfill his mission on behalf of the world.