Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Notes on the Nativity 3


There are many traditions given in the oral histories concerning Mary (Hebrew:Miriam). The stories relate that Mary was born to her parents after long years of childlessness. In gratitude for the gift of a child, her parents dedicated her to the Lord, just as Hannah had done with Samuel many years earlier. Just as Samuel served in the Temple as a child, the old traditions say that Mary did so as well.

Israeli researchers have proven that some kinds of girl's service in the Temple corresponds with historic facts. The girls performed various services for the priests and were given a thorough religious education from the scriptures in return. Upon reaching the age of 12, they had to leave the Temple service, but those living nearby continued to do knitting and sewing work for the Temple (Pixner-Jerusalem-pg 19).

At the time of Gabriel's visit, we read that Mary was a virgin espoused to a man named Joseph. Gabriel informed Mary (Miriam) that she would give birth to a Son, and that she was to call his name Jesus. In Hebrew, Mary's language, Jesus is pronounced "Yeshua," which name has as its root meaning "he will save."

There are many lessons we can learn from Mary. We are told that the Angel Gabriel came to her and we know from the Book of Mormon that she was a virgin most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.

Gabriel greeted Mary with these words: “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee.” God often encouraged his servants that he was “with them.” Greeting like “hail” were normal. Then why did she feel troubled and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be? It was because rank and status within society determined whom one should greet and with what words.

As both a young woman and a young unmarried person, Mary had virtually no social status. “Hail” was a greeting that was used between equals. By using that greeting, the angel was acknowledging her equality with him. The title “favored” and the promise “the Lord is with you” were not traditional, even if she had been a person of status.


1 comment:

  1. If you've ever doubted the favored status of women in God's eyes, this posting should forever give you comfort. He loves His daughters with a pure and powerful love. These words today are so tender.