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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Joseph the Husband of Mary

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Two lines of descent from David came together in Jesus. The royal line through Solomon and the kings of Judah came through Joseph, the legal father of Jesus, giving grounds for Jesus’ right to the throne of David (Matthew 1:1-16). The other line, through another of David’s sons, also led to Joseph (Luke 3:23-31).

Possibly, however, the genealogy in Luke is that of Mary, not Joseph. Since the genealogy preserves only the names of the males, Joseph (according to this theory) would be ‘son’ of Heli only because he was married to Heli’s daughter; that is, he would be Heli’s son-in-law.

Both Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23 emphasize that Joseph was not the natural father of Jesus. Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary by the direct activity of God’s Spirit, without the help of any man. It is understandable that Joseph was called the father of Jesus (John 1:45; John 6:42), because legally he was, but Joseph knew that he was not the cause of Mary’s pregnancy. When he thought of breaking the engagement with Mary secretly (for he did not want to embarrass her), God told him that Mary was morally blameless and her pregnancy was miraculous (Matthew 1:18-25; cf. Luke 1:26-35).

After the birth, Joseph showed a loving concern for both Mary and Jesus, and a readiness to act promptly when God directed him (Matthew 2:13-15; Matthew 2:19-23). With Mary he took the baby to Jerusalem for the ceremonies required by the Jewish law (Luke 2:22). Later they settled in Nazareth in the north (Matthew 2:23), but they went each year to Jerusalem for the Passover (Luke 2:41).

Joseph was a well known carpenter in Nazareth (Matthew 13:55) and he taught his carpentry skills to Jesus (Mark 6:3). Apparently he was no longer alive when Jesus engaged in his public ministry, as the Gospel writers do not mention him in references to current members of Jesus’ family (Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3; John 19:26-27). The brothers and sisters of Jesus were probably children of Mary and Joseph, born to them once they began sexual relations after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:25).

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Joseph the Husband of Mary'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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