Against the backdrop of looming danger Joseph is warned in a dream to take his family to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous intentions (Matt. 2:13-15). Only when Herod was dead would it be safe to return home. When the Judean king died in his winter palace in Jericho (4 B.C.E.), Herod’s will divided his kingdom between his surviving sons (Ant. 17:188-190; J.W. 1:664-669). Contrary to Herod’s final wishes, Augustus did not award Archelaus his father’s throne. He was instead appointed ethnarch of Judea, Idumea and Samaria (J.W. 2:93; Ant. 17:317). Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Perea in the Transjordan, while Philip was appointed tetrarch over an amalgam of districts in the north (Gaulanitis, Trachonitis, Batanaea, Panias) on the frontier with Syria.
Centuries of Christian readers have pondered the meaning of the Greek term Ναζωραῖος (Nazōraios), usually rendered Nazarene, and which Old Testament passages Matthew had in mind when he interpreted the relocation to Nazareth as a fulfillment of Scripture (Matt. 2:23). Where in the Hebrew Scriptures is it expected that the Redeemer will be called a Nazarene or come from Nazareth?