Joseph marries Mary and returns to Bethlehem.
October 3rd, 2001
Received by H.
My dear H___, I feel happy being able to deliver another message through you. As I have indicated to you in my last message, I want to start a new series on Jesus’ life and teachings. We could do this in any order, but I think that it will be better to follow the events in a more or less chronological order. This will allow us to discuss the development of Jesus himself, and of his teachings. I also intend to communicate some information on the historical background, since this is very important in order to understand many things which would otherwise seem incomprehensible.
As you already know, Jesus had earthly parents, his true parents, of whose union he was born. Joseph, Jesus’ father, was not a Galilean, but was born in Judea, in Bethlehem, where his first son would also be born. Joseph was born at a very violent time in Palestine, full of fights between different forces, between the Romans and Parthians, between Jews and Jews, between Jews and Arabs, etc. In this tumultuous time, one personality, Herod the Great, stands forth as the one who was able to take possession of all Palestine with the help of Rome, and who was confirmed king by the Romans. Herod’s Kingdom was large; it had an expansion very similar to the mythical Kingdom of David and Solomon.
Herod turned out to be a very capable strategist. When he was still very young, his father sent him to Galilee as the general of the northern army, in order to pacify this region. Galilee had always been a very restless area, a den of revolutionaries, thieves, assailants, murderers, etc. And Herod, applying subtle tactics and brute force, was finally able to clear the area of bandits and to guarantee relative peace for its residents. Yes, young Herod was quite popular, it was astute and daring, he reigned later with iron fist, but he managed to achieve decades of peace after decades of slaughter and cruelty.
That was the situation when young Joseph grew up very near Jerusalem, and when he became a man.
As it happens so often, the young ones leave their nest, and they go out to seek their good fortune in the distant or not so distant world. And the same thing happened with Joseph. The times were no longer those of his childhood. The once popular Herod had become over the years a man-devouring beast, plagued by physical and mental disease, suspicious of anyone and murdering unscrupulously. Thick and black clouds of danger and fear overshadowed Jerusalem and its surroundings.
Joseph decided to head for the north. He had two reasons for this. First, the area of Galilee was a very fertile region, with much more abundant rainfalls than in the half-deserted Judea, and second, he imagined that the more distant from the center of power he lived, the calmer and safer his life would be. The Romans held control over the whole region, and border wars were not to be expected. And so, Joseph arrived at Galilee and decided to settle down at the small village of Nazareth. I say village, but in fact it was an insignificant hamlet. But it lay near Sepphoris, where Herod had established an important military barracks, and not very far from the lake of Genesaret, also called the “Sea of Galilee,” a large and deep fresh water lake, with diverse industries and a fishery.
Joseph was a “tekton.” The Bible translations call him a carpenter, but that is not a correct translation. A tekton was a builder, fabricator, or constructor, that means he worked with everything, with wood, metals, stones, he built houses, doors, plows, yokes for the oxen, he was the universal artisan. And there was plenty of work in Galilee. Agriculture flourished, there was building activity in the near-by Sepphoris, etc., and Joseph’s small business prospered.
He met a girl and madly fell in love. And the girl, whose name was Mary, also fell in love with him. And as in all good romantic stories, they married. But shortly after that, the romanticism vanished. Very soon problems, serious problems appeared.
Young Herod had pacified Galilee. The older Herod no longer worried about that. He spent his time murdering his family which we will discuss in the context of the slaughter of the babies at Bethlehem. And as is logical, when certain conditions cause insurrection to occur, and when only those symptoms are oppressed, that is by killing the rebels without changing the causal conditions, the situation will repeat.
Disorder returned to Galilee, insecurity and fear began to reign. Joseph was about to sell all his belongings and to leave the place with his young wife and his savings, heading for any other place, but far away from this terror. Mary refused. The poor girl felt so bound to her small homeland that she flatly refused.
But things grew worse. Mary, already some months pregnant, finally gave in, when bandits plundered a neighboring village, slaughtering some of the people who lived there. You know this already, because Alfredo informed you of this. Yes, they even burned some people alive. Attacks on whole villages by numerous groups of bandits, well, that is certainly not what happened every day, but people were kept in uncertainty. That was too much. Joseph sold his belongings and left with Mary, who had little time left to give birth to her baby.
The story of the census is not correct. Certainly, there were censuses in order to register people at the place where those people lived. But it is also true that there were other property censuses, and so one could explain Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem in order to register any property he held there. But why should he have taken his wife with him on a dangerous and weary voyage? What really happened was the family’s flight from danger. And Joseph headed to the place that he knew, where his relatives lived, to Bethlehem.
We will come back to the subject of the census, because this census mentioned by Luke in his gospel really occurred many years later, and it led to other important events in Jesus’ life.
It was winter, cold months, and Joseph could choose between three possible routes: The road along the coast, another one crossing Samaria, or the road through the Jordan valley. He chose that last one.
The date? According to your calendar, this happened in the month of December of the year 8 BC.
Well, H___, this is a good place to interrupt our story. I projected young Joseph’s image into your mind. Of course, I had never known him at that age, only when he was already older, but this is what he looked like at that time. Perhaps you can draw him. It would be another piece for Geoff’s gallery of “the not only 12 apostles.” As you already know, Joseph became a true follower of his son after Jesus’ death. He worked as a missionary, and he died on the British islands.
My dear H___, maybe we can meet again today. I hope we can. Until then, I say good-bye, and I leave you with my love.
Your brother in Christ,
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013