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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

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the mother of Jesus, and wife of Joseph. She is called by the Jews the daughter of Eli; and by the early Christian writers, the daughter of Joakim and Anna: but Joakim and Eliakim are sometimes interchanged, 2 Chronicles 36:4; and Eli, or Heli, is therefore the abridgment of Eliakim, Luke 3:23 . She was of the royal race of David, as was also Joseph her husband; and she was also cousin to Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias the priest, Luke 1:5; Luke 1:36 . Mary being espoused to Joseph, the Angel Gabriel appeared to her, to announce to her that she should be the mother of the Messiah, Luke 1:26-27 , &c. To confirm his message, and to show that nothing is impossible to God, he added that her cousin Elizabeth, who was old, and had been hitherto barren, was then in the sixth month of her pregnancy. Mary answered, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word;" and presently she conceived. She set out for Hebron, a city in the mountains of Judah, to visit her cousin Elizabeth. As soon as Elizabeth heard the voice of Mary, her child, John the Baptist, leaped in her womb; and she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake with a loud voice, saying, "Blessed art thou among women,"

&c. Then Mary praised God, saying, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour," &c. Mary continued with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her own house. An edict of Caesar Augustus having decreed, that all subjects of the empire should go to their own cities, to register their names according to their families, Joseph and Mary, who were both of the lineage of David, went to Bethlehem, from whence sprung their family. But while they were here, the time being fulfilled in which Mary was to be delivered, she brought forth her first-born son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in the manger of the stable or cavern whither they had retired, because there was no room in the inn. Angels made this event known to shepherds, who were in the fields near Bethlehem, and these came in the night to Joseph and Mary and saw the child laying in the manger, and paid him their adoration. The presentation of Christ in the temple, the flight into Egypt, the slaughter of the innocents, and other events connected with the birth and infancy of our Lord, are plainly related in the Gospels.

Mary and Joseph went every year to Jerusalem to the passover; and when Jesus was twelve years of age, they took him with them. When they were returning, the youth continued at Jerusalem, without their perceiving it. Three days after, they found him in the temple, sitting among the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. Afterward, he returned with them to Nazareth, and lived in filial submission to them. But his mother laid up all these things in her heart, Luke 2:51 , &c. The Gospel speaks nothing more of the Virgin Mary till the marriage at Cana of Galilee, at which she was present with her son Jesus. She was at Jerusalem at the last passover our Saviour celebrated there. There she saw all that was transacted; followed him to Calvary; and stood at the foot of his cross with an admirable constancy and courage. Jesus seeing his mother, and his beloved disciple near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold thy son; and to the disciple, Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her home to his own house." No farther particulars of this favoured woman are mentioned, except that she was a witness of Christ's resurrection. A veil is drawn over her character and history; as though with the design to reprove that wretched idolatry of which she was made the subject when Christianity became corrupt and paganized.

2. MARY, the another of John Mark, a disciple of the Apostles. She had a house in Jerusalem, whither, it is thought, the Apostles retired after the ascension of our Lord, and where they received the Holy Ghost. After the imprisonment of St. Peter, the faithful assembled in this house, and were praying there when Peter, delivered by the ministry of an angel, knocked at the door of the house, Acts 12:12 .

3. MARY, of Cleophas. St. Jerom says, she bore the name of Cleophas, either because of her father, or for some other reason which cannot now be known. Others believe, with greater probability, that she was wife of Cleophas, as our version of the New Testament makes her, by supplying the word wife, John 19:25 , and mother of James the less, and of Simon, brethren of our Lord. These last mentioned authors take Mary mother of James, and Mary wife of Cleophas, to be the same person, Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 24:10; John 19:25 . St. John gives her the name of Mary of Cleophas; and the other evangelists, the name of Mary, mother of James. Cleophas and Alpheus are the same person; as James, son of Mary, wife of Cleophas, is the same as James, son of Alpheus. It is thought she was the sister of the Virgin Mary, and that she was the mother of James the less, of Joses, of Simon, and of Judas, who in the Gospel are named the brethren of Jesus Christ, Matthew 13:55; Matthew 27:56; Mark 6:3; that is, his cousin-germans. She was an early believer in Jesus Christ, and attended him on his journeys, to minister to him. She was present at the last passover, and at the death of our Saviour she followed him to Calvary; and during his passion she was with the mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross. She was also present at his burial; and on the Friday before had, in union with others, prepared the perfumes to embalm him, Luke 23:56 . But going to his tomb very early on the Sunday morning, with other women, they there learned from the mouth of an angel, that he was risen; of which they carried the news to the Apostles, Luke 24:1-5; Matthew 28:9 . By the way, Jesus appeared to them; and they embraced his feet, worshipping him. This is all we know with certainty concerning Mary, the wife of Cleophas.

4. MARY, sister of Lazarus, who has been preposterously confounded with that female sinner spoken of, Luke 7:37-39 . She lived with her brother and her sister Martha at Bethany; and Jesus Christ, having a particular affection for this family, often retired to their house with his disciples. Six days before the passover, after having raised Lazarus from the dead, he came to Bethany with his disciples, and was invited to sup with Simon the leper, John 12:1 , &c; Matthew 26:6 , &c; Mark 14:3 , &c. Martha attended at the table, and Lazarus was one of the guests. Upon this occasion, Mary, taking a pound of spikenard, which is the most precious perfume of its kind, poured it upon the head and feet of Jesus. She wiped his feet with her hair, and the whole house was filled with the odour of the perfume. Judas Iscariot murmured at this; but Jesus justified Mary in what she had done, saying, that by this action she had prevented his embalmment, and in a manner had declared his death and burial, which were at hand. From this period the Scriptures make no mention of either Mary or Martha.

5. MARY MAGDALENE, so called, it is probable, from Magdala, a town of Galilee, of which she was a native, or where she had resided during the early part of her life. Out of her, St. Luke tells us, Jesus had cast seven devils, Luke 8:2 . He informs us, also, in the same place, that Jesus, in company with his Apostles, preached the Gospel from city to city; and that there were several women with them, whom he had delivered from evil spirits, and healed of their infirmities; among whom was this Mary, whom some, without a shadow of proof, have supposed to be the sinful woman spoken of, Luke 7:37-39; as others have as erroneously imagined her to be Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Mary Magdalene, is mentioned by the evangelists as being one of those women that followed our Saviour to minister to him according to the custom of the Jews. She attended him in the last journey he made from Galilee to Jerusalem, and was at the foot of the cross with the holy virgin, John 19:25; Mark 15:47; after which she returned to Jerusalem, to buy and prepare with others certain perfumes, that she might embalm him after the Sabbath was over, which was then about to begin. All the Sabbath day she remained in the city; and the next day, early in the morning, went to the sepulchre along with Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, Mark 16:1-2; Luke 24:1-2 . For other particulars respecting her, see also Matthew 28:1-5; John 20:11-17 . In Dr. Townley's Essays, there is one of considerable research on Mary Magdalene; and his conclusion is, that it is probable that the woman mentioned by St. Luke, and called in the English translation "a sinner," had formerly been a Heathen; but whether subsequently a proselyte to Judaism or not, is uncertain; and that, having been brought to the knowledge of Christian truth, and having found mercy from the Redeemer, she pressed into Simon's house, and gave the strongest proofs of her gratitude and veneration by anointing the Saviour's feet, bedewing them with her tears, and wiping them with the hairs of her head:—that by a wilful and malicious misrepresentation, the Jews confounded Mary Magdalene with Mary the mother of Jesus, and represented her as an infamous character;—and that, from the blasphemous calumny of the Jews, a stigma of infamy has been affixed to the name of Mary Magdalene, and caused her to be regarded in the false light of a penitent prostitute. There is no doubt but that Mary Magdalene, both in character and circumstances, was a woman of good reputation.

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Mary'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​m/mary.html. 1831-2.
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