The Gospel of Matthew Series |Matthew 1:18-25
We invite you to walk through the Gospel of Matthew from beginning to end. We're excited about this opportunity to provide insights into this incredible book through the lenses of culture, history, the land, and the Holy Spirit!
MATTHEW 1:18-25 | JOSEPH ACCEPTS JESUS AS HIS SON
There is an often-overlooked statement made by Mary in Luke 1:35: "How can this be since I am a virgin?" This lies in the shadow of Luke 1:27, where it states that she was "betrothed"
(ἐμνηστευμένην) to Joseph. Although "betrothal" or "engagement" are the common English renderings of this Greek term, they fall short of explaining the full meaning behind this word in the Jewish world of Mary.
In the first century, marriage was a two-step process, first there was the engagement or marital contracts, and second the couple began living together.
It's easy to attempt to equate our marriage rituals today with the second step of this ancient process – as many often do. However, this is not the case. From rabbinic writings, it appears that marital relations took place (and were possibly even expected in certain areas) during the first stage, after the contracts were signed. Mishnah Kuthuboth 1:5, attests to the fact that this was happening, as it explains that if man is at the house of his betrothed with no witness, it was assumed that they had relations. It is apparent that Mary and Joseph held to some of the stricter interpretations of the day, as by this point in the betrothal there was no intimacy in the relationship (Matt. 1:25).
A few personal reflections:
Joseph was a pious man. A carpenter who was well thought of in the village and, at times, even thought to be a sage. God placed His son in safe and capable hands (Matt. 1:19, 24-25).
Immanuel, God with us. If you have no other gift this Christmas season, know that God, sending his Son to dwell among us and teach us how to live a godly life, is the ultimate gift and act of love possible.
Written by Jeremy Stein, Content Development Coordinator for the Center for Holy Lands Studies.
For information about CHLS, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-885-700-CHLS (2457).