It doesn’t feel like I have time, but I want to do a character study on Joseph, the man who married Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Let’s set something straight right off the bat.
Although Mary is considered the mother of Jesus, she was merely a surrogate that carried a fertilized egg. I understand that most of you that have some religious background wish to fight with me already. The reason you want to fight is that what I said goes against your theological training and tradition.
Why would I be comfortable saying that Mary was merely a surrogate? Because, we humans, ALL of us, is broken. To use an egg from a broken human being would have caused Jesus to be born into sin and that would have made the payment of God’s flesh for our sin, null and void. You see, we have to understand the depths of Adam’s actions to understand this, and that is a direction I had not planned on taking this.
Look at these verses.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB (21) He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The word “Knew” reaches into the idea of a virgin who knew NO man, much like Mary.
Jesus had NO sin in Him.
1 Peter 2:22 NASB WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
First, let me say that I copied this straight from the NASB. So for them to put these words on a page as capital letters mean to imply the force and enthusiasm with which they perceived Peter saying them. The translators perceived Peter yelling to get his point across.
Secondly, when I consider the phrase “nor was any deceit found in His mouth,” most of us understand that Jesus never sinned and, therefore, was NOT worthy of any of the punishment He submitted himself too. And yet, we see Jesus making a whip and driving the vendors out of the outer courts.
John 2:14-15 NASB And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. (15) And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables;
Now think about what just happened here. Having observed what was going on, Jesus found the necessary items to build such a device, and then use it on particular people – the vendors. The legal system looks at a chain of events, such as this, as premeditated. For you and me, this is flagrant sin.
What did Peter say? “He did not sin.”
What about this word deceit, does that tell us anything?
Deceit is the Greek word dólos and generally means fraud, guile, deceit. So my take away from this is that Jesus was NOT fraudulent or deceitful in His actions. I can also comprehend that God saw nothing wrong with the actions and words of Jesus. Consider this:
John 5:19 NASB Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
Jesus did nothing unless He saw the Father doing it, or heard the Father say it. That incident with the whip was merely Jesus acting out what the Father had asked Him to do.
Matthew 21:13 NLT He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
The house of prayer aspect points prominently to Isaiah 56:7. Jesus added the part about them, turning it into a den of thieves.
“I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” NLT
At this point, we have established that:
- Jesus was born of an implanted, fertilized egg – a necessary method as it bypassed the contamination of the broken nature that is integrated into all humanity.
- Mary, a virgin, was a willing, bearer of the fertilized egg (although the entire process, it seems, was not explained to Mary – that was not necessary) and soon-to-be mother of God’s Son. She was (most likely), by a familial, contractual agreement engaged to Joseph.
- Joseph was a descendant of King David, and his hometown was Bethlehem.Joseph, we are told, was a righteous man. The short explanation of Joseph’s righteousness comes from the Word Study Dictionary, where it says, “In the N.T., those that are called righteous (díkaioi) are those who have conditioned their lives by the standard which is not theirs, but God’s. They are the people related to God and who, as a result of this relationship, walk with God.” There is only one way to perceive this man; he had a solid knowledge of the Torah and followed the Jewish law. It is evident by this statement that many knew of his comprehension and actions. (He may have been an elder.)
If he knew the law, as I stated, then he knew this,
Deuteronomy 23:2 NASB, “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.
Hold that thought, for we will come back to it shortly.
Mary, the virgin. (Yes, I am very much aware that this is a character study on Joseph, but you have to keep in mind that everything in scripture is integrated into the entirety of God’s plan.)
As I am writing this, a prominent fact is jumping out at me. The stories we were told as children are not lining up with the Word of God. This misalignment is one of the reasons that we need to read the scriptures for ourselves. Luke 1:26-38 is an excellent place to start when looking at Mary, for it gives you many of the details. Mary’s hometown was Nazareth. The distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem is approximately 120 kilometers or a little over 80 miles. Not a comfortable walk, and therefore makes me think about how God so casually arranges the meetings of our life, and, how did Joseph know of, or meet Mary. This thought process lends itself more to the contractual marriage idea, an idea that plays into a family’s economy.
The Birth of Jesus Foretold.
A couple of things I want to point out. The NASB entitles this section the Birth of Jesus Foretold,however, by jumping straight into Luke 1:26, and 27, we lose the context.
Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26-27 NASB)
The context of this moment has everything to do with Mary visiting her relative, Elizabeth. Without the proper context, some, like me, might start thinking about the Jewish month Sivan, and what would be happening then, and what does any of this have to do with the birth of Jesus?
Secondly, In Luke 1:27, we have a piece of information that I have never noticed before. Mary is referred to as a virgin twice.
To the Jews, repetitive words were recognized as God’s way of getting your attention or enforcing a prophetic point. Because of the chain of events that are about to transpire, it may be immensely important that the readers/listeners understand, beyond a doubt, that this girl was a virgin.
I started this writing by pointing out that Mary was merely a surrogate mother.
What is it that makes a woman a NON-virgin? Intercourse, willingly or not.
Mary never experienced what that might be like, but would have had the sage advice of say, her mother, when she thought it was necessary, to explain the gritty details. I suppose none of this is essential information, and to some degree, tasteless. Still, if Mary, the virgin, is about to become pregnant without sexual contact, the typical evidence an angry mother would demand to see would not be there, and yet, just a few months later, Mary would be showing. All these details suddenly thrust upon her, had to be so confusing.
Remember that I told you to hold that thought about Joseph being a righteous man; and how, as a righteous man, he would have had extensive knowledge of the Torah/Jewish law.
A person of illegitimate birth may not enter the assembly of the LORD; to the tenth generation, no one related to him may do so. (Deuteronomy 23:2 NET.)
Many of Mary’s neighbors also knew the law, and because Mary stood her ground and insisted that this child, she is so obviously carrying, is God’s and NOT Joseph’s, she is either thought to be a liar or an adulterer. The negativity would have spilled over onto Joseph, and everyone would have been looking at this righteous man, not only with the stink eye but the “you know what to do eye.” None of these neighbors would have allowed Mary, Joseph, or the child into the Synagogue or Temple, however, as most of you know, Jesus entered the Synagogue, as was His custom, opened the scroll of Isaiah, and read the prophecy that spoke of Him.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:1-2 NASB)
And the strangest thing happened, those who acknowledged Him, called Him Rabbi – teacher. Where did they come to this understanding?
In reading Luke’s gospel, we just left off with the narrative about Elizabeth, who should be well beyond childbearing years, and she is the wife of an old priest named Zacharias. She is now six months pregnant with the baby that will soon be named John the Baptist. (Luke 1:1-26.)
Luke 1:1-26 is where things are less than clear to me. I think this confusion stems mainly from the flannel board stories of my youth and religious traditions that have marred the chronological timeline in my head. You see, I always assumed that Mary went to see Elizabeth simply to get away from the hostility of the neighbors in Nazareth. Pay attention to this next part of the story.
Matthew 1:18 NASB Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, however, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew just threw us into fast forward, so we need to go backward in time to when Gabriel tells her what God’s plan is.
Luke 1:26-27 NASB Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, (27) to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
It is almost as though the story starts here, but as you know, it started back when God opted to have Joseph become engaged to Mary. Remove from your thinking that she is some assertive, twenty-something, pre-med student because that is not even close. She could have been anywhere between twelve and sixteen. Twelve-year-old children do not often have their wits about them, but a sixteen-year-old might. Based upon the upcoming conversation, and the fact that she stood her ground against Joseph and her neighbors, I would lean toward sixteen.
Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and for that reason, the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 NASB)
Things I see in this transaction between Mary and Gabriel.
- And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
- Verse 29 tells us that she was very perplexed.
- Having been told, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
- Gabriel adds, “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.”
- “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
The entire conversation ends most intriguingly.
- “Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”
Now the focus shifts back to Joseph.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, and before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18 NASB)
- Mary, betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, was found to be with child.
- Mary, knowing that running around town, telling people her “wonderful” news would be detrimental to her health, as some would likely kill her, keeps quiet.
- Since pregnancies can only remain a secret for so long before the rumors begin to fly, one of the apparent attacks would come from her household.(Remember, this engagement has moved from the contractual stage to a point where Joseph has made the official call for her hand in marriage. At this point, he would begin building what would be their home. This home was often an add on to the parent’s home, and he will come for her at the end of this engagement period, most likely a year, when the house is finished. This home is in Nazareth at this point.)
Now how would someone know that something about Mary had changed?
The first and most obvious person to know would be her mother, for she would have noticed that Mary did not have her period at its regular interval. Well, that may not be a good clue because stress and other factors have caused some to miss their periods, although this tends to be a one month issue. The next thing that may have been the giveaway would be the baby bump. Common sense and politeness would rule out most of us from saying anything. For all we know, she is just getting fat; since the attire of the period is loose clothing, this would be hard to detect for several months.
So the reality is, she may be three months or more along by the time Joseph finds out about this pregnancy by God.
And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:19 NASB)
We already talked about the ramifications of Joseph being a righteous man, but now we see that he does not want to disgrace her.
That word disgrace is the Greek word deigmatizō and means to expose or to make a show of her. His choice to protect her dignity shows remarkable class on his part, but it also shows that he knows full well what is about to happen to her and the child, and he is trying to protect his character as well.
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21 NASB)
Matthew 1:20-21, in saying, “when he had considered this,” gives us NO time frame as to how long this deliberation on the part of Joseph would have taken.
The “made for T.V.” version showed Joseph immediately going back to the house he had meticulously worked on and started smashing it to pieces. Regardless, considering the thought, plans, and preparations he had to make to “put her away privately,” may have taken weeks at a minimum.
- Do not be afraid.
- “for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
- “She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus,”
And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son, and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25 NASB)
Unlike the story of Abram, where he has a vision, we are told that Joseph awoke from his sleep. It appears that he immediately did as the angel of the Lord commanded. He took Mary, that day, as his wife. However, he did NOT have intercourse with her, keeping her a virgin until she gave birth to God’s Son.
Think about what just happened. If Joseph had touched Mary sexually, then the enemy would have had opportunity to argue that Jesus was not born without sin. The ramifications would have been many. Whether Joseph was operating under a Godly mandate and not touching her, is not made clear to us. Logic has to play a role in this thought process.
Married and pregnant.
Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7 NASB)
Wouldn’t you know it, Caesar Augustus demanded that the whole earth, as he perceived it, would comply with his demands by participating in a census. And so every male, and his family, were on their way to the city of their birth, to register for the census, and that meant that Joseph had to take his very pregnant wife south to Bethlehem. A story like this evokes many levels of discomfort, as we picture Mary, potentially riding on a colt.
It is not until the end of the paragraph that we are told, “she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Now answer me this; where are they? They are in Bethlehem, the hometown of Joseph, where his kinfolk live, and NO ONE will take them in. Why is that?
- Could it be that they too had found out that Mary was pregnant before Joseph and Mary got married?
- And, could it be that Joseph is openly stating that he did not touch her at any point?
- Mary continues to insist that the baby is God’s?
Could any of these possibilities cause problems? Absolutely. But remember, Joseph is a righteous man.
In a short time, Mary gives birth to the baby boy; and yes, it is possible that they stayed in that manger for many days.
And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (Luke 2:21-22 NASB)
Joseph, the righteous man knew this law.
“And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.” (Genesis 17:11-12 NASB)
And he also knew this:
“No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 23:2 NASB)
Can you imagine the inner turmoil Joseph may have had, knowing that the world he understands sees this baby as illegitimate, and therefore, neither the baby, Joseph, or his wife, are eligible to enter the temple.
But notice how Luke 2:22 says, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. Jerusalem may be a place where the word about the parentage of Jesus has not traveled as yet.
Why would anyone challenge Jesus’ parentage?
They wouldn’t, unless, as we know, both Mary and now Joseph, both hold to the testimony that the baby Jesus is the Son of God. An answer to my question may be found in the probabilities that, with each birth, there may be the recital of one’s ancestry. Wow, suddenly the fact that Mary is tied back to Abraham, and Joseph’s lineage takes him back to Adam.
From what I understand, the modern Jewish community has people/Priests/Rabbis that will come into your home. We can only assume that the availability of those who do circumcisions, at this time, is only found at the temple. We have to look a little further to see that they took Him to the temple.
“Every firstborn male shall be counted consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice in accordance with what is specified in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.” Now there was in Jerusalem, a man named Simeon, an upright, devout man; he was expecting to see the consolation of Israel, and he was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not die without seeing the Lord’s Messiah. So under the Spirit’s guidance, he went into the temple, and when the parents brought the child Jesus there to do for Him as the custom of the law required, (Luke 2:23-27 Williams)
- “and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord.”
- Now there was in Jerusalem, a man named Simeon, an upright, devout man; he was expecting to see the consolation of Israel, and he was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not die without seeing the Lord’s Messiah. So under the Spirit’s guidance, he went into the temple, and when the parents brought the child Jesus there
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married for only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38 NLT)
The census was taken, and the baby was born. At a minimum, two years had passed when the Magi showed on the horizon. Their numbers, along with the entourage, raised no small cloud of dust. The report was made to Herod, who immediately went into a panic.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: (NASB) ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ (Matthew 2:6 NLT) Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house, they saw the Child with Mary, His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.” (Matthew 2:1-12 NASB)
Joseph once again hears from God and takes the family to safety in Egypt.
After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.” (Matthew 2:13-15 NLT)
History tells us that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. I suppose that would make Jesus around four when Joseph brought the family out of Egypt. But the travel saga doesn’t end there, as apparently, they tried to return to Bethlehem.
“Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. (Matthew 2:20-21 NLT)
Matthew 2:20 merely says, take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel; this is not very specific.
But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. (Matthew 2:22 NLT)
The Commentator Albert Barnes points out that “Archelaus possessed a cruel and tyrannical disposition similar to his father. At one of the Passovers, he caused 3,000 people to be put to death in the temple and city. For his crimes, after he had reigned nine years, he was banished by Augustus, the Roman emperor, to Gaul, where he died. ”
This is conjecture on my part, but it does not change my faith or remove my confidence in God’s plan, and yet, it sure makes sense when I say, the region of Galilee would be familiar ground for Mary, and quite possibly for Joseph as well; for where do we first see Joseph? In Nazareth, a town in the region of Galilee. It would be easy to blend in, and there is the added benefit of time. Time? Why say that? Because the overall time frame since they first left Nazareth, is quite possibly five years or more, and because of the adamant stance the two parents took just before they left.
Dr. Luke’s gospel is extremely abbreviated, as it bypasses the trip to Egypt, puts them walking out of the temple door, meeting Anna the prophetess, and heading back to Nazareth.
When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. (Luke 2:39 NLT)
What were the requirements? Joseph knew the answer to this question. The purification time for his wife; the circumcision of Jesus on the eighth day. If there was anything else, I am not aware of it.
And so, according to Luke’s gospel, back to Nazareth, they went..
The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40 NASB)
I have heard it said that all that a child is going to be, behavior-wise, is established by the age of seven. I suppose much of that has to do with oral and visual inputs from the adults that surround their life. If your father is a man that knows and follows the Torah, then your inputs should be God-oriented as well, and this is exactly what we see in Jesus. So Joseph was a good and capable choice.
The next time we see Jesus he is age twelve, very close to the age of Bar mitzvah. “Bar mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ritual for boys. According to Jewish law, when a Jewish boy is 13 years old, he becomes accountable for his actions and becomes a bar mitzvah.” Wikipedia
If you care to challenge the FACT that Jesus went through a Bar Mitzvah, then I offer this detail. In Mark’s gospel, we have this:
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:17-21 NLT)
The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say about Mark 10: 17-21.
“In answering the man’s question directly, Jesus quoted five commandments from the so-called “second table” of the Decalogue (cf. Exo_20:12-16; Deu_5:16-20) but in a different order. Obedience to those commands dealing with human relationships are more easily verified in a person’s conduct than are the earlier commands (Exo_20:3-8). The command, Do not defraud, not a part of the Decalogue and occurring only in Mark, may represent the 10th commandment (Exo_20:17). But more likely, it is an appropriate supplement to the 8th and/or 9th commandments (Exo_20:15-16) applicable to a wealthy person (cf. Lev_6:2-5; Mal_3:5).
The man’s reply shows he firmly believed he had kept these commandments perfectly (cf. Php_3:6) since he was a boy, since age 12 when he assumed personal responsibility for keeping the Law as a “son of the Law” (bar Mitzvah; cf. Luk_2:42-47). Perhaps he had expected Jesus to prescribe something meritorious that he needed to do to make up for any lack.”
Because, as I have stated repeatedly, Joseph was a righteous man, then he would have made Jesus submit to the tradition of bar Mitzvah as well. That is why Jesus knew fully what the young man was saying when he responded to Jesus with, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
What is one of the common things we know about Jesus? He fulfilled all the commandments of righteousness, and Matthew’s gospel proves that out.
Then Jesus arrived from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and You are coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. (Matthew 3:13-15 EMTV)
So, where does Joseph fit into this conversation?
Joseph, being a righteous man, knew these things and saw to it that they were performed.
Now after Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, and take with you the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the life of the young Child have died.” Then he rose and took along the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being divinely instructed in a dream, he withdrew into the regions of Galilee. And when he arrived, he settled down in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He would be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:19-23 EMTV)
And with this, we end our look at Joseph, for, after this point in time, we see him no more. However, I will add one more piece of information.
When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Matthew 13:53-55 NASB)
Based upon this paragraph, we assume that Joseph was a carpenter, and therefore Jesus too was a carpenter. But that is NOT what this verse says. I know, it sure appears that it does, but therein lies the majority of our misinterpretation of God, His nature, and His character. They never said carpenter, the translators did, and they did it because it made sense to them.
The word translated carpenter is tektōnand merely means a craftsman. Tekton can also mean one who writes poetry, but since we know that this was not Jesus’ calling, then we can exclude that idea.
An interesting detail about Nazareth is that a half-mile outside the city the Israel antiquities department excavated a stone vessel shop. In this shop, it was determined that 2000 years ago they lathed, yes lathed, quarried stone into household vessels, such as mugs and large water vessels.
What is the significance of that?
During the days of Herod, the Great, a Jewish, entrepreneur read in the Torah, how vessels can become unclean by the usage of certain persons and products, like pig fat. However, in his reading of the law, it became abundantly clear that it said nothing about stoneware. With no small discussion, it was decided that because stone was not mentioned in the list of things that could become contaminated, that stone MUST be excluded. To this day, stoneware is a standard in the Jewish community. Did God come up with this idea? Hardly, but the Jews have integrated this stoneware usage rule into their laws.
What does this mean to me? It means that Joseph may well have been a craftsman of stoneware and that Jesus had learned that trade alongside him.
Then consider something. When Jesus performed his first public miracle, what was involved, massive stoneware water vessels that were being used for ceremonial cleansing. So when he asks the servants to fill these same vessels with water, he did not concern himself with the cleanliness issue and turned that water into wine. He knew full well about the rules pertaining to stoneware and may have been one of the tektōn’s who made those pots.