JOSEPH AND MARY
By Elvin C. Myers
Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18
What do we know about Joseph and Mary? Not much, but then the Gospel record is not about them but about the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not know how they met or what family arrangements were made for their betrothal. It is suggested by many scholars that Mary was a young woman, probably in her middle teens, when the betrothal was arranged and the marriage took place. This was the rule rather than the exception in Bible times. Matthew 1:18 says Mary was espoused to Joseph. This was equivalent to today's custom of engagement. The betrothal could last as long as a year and was as binding as marriage itself. A public ceremony announced the betrothal. A marriage feast made the marriage official.
A major issue of the betrothal was the dowry which was negotiated between the families of the prospective groom and bride. When all was agreed upon, the two were considered husband and wife but did not live together as such until the marriage feast.
It was during the betrothal that Mary's conception took place. When Mary told Joseph of her condition and that it was an act of the Holy Spirit, he did not believe her. Who would? His intent was to quietly "put her away," which was considered a divorce. Only one thing kept Joseph from putting Mary away and that was God's intervention. He sent His angel Gabriel to tell Joseph in a dream that Mary's explanation was correct and that he was to marry her.
Three things may be safely assumed.
1) The betrothal period was nearly ended when Mary conceived. Matthew 1:19 says they were considered husband and wife, so that means all negotiations were completed.
2) 2) Mary told Joseph of the conception as soon as she learned it.
3) No other man in all Israel could have served as the father of Jesus, for Joseph would have been the king ofIsrael had there been a kingdom. Not one other man in all Israel could have filled this role.
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