Friday, December 18, 2009

Notes on the Nativity 5


What kind of man would God choose to be the earthly role model for His Son? When Jesus returned from his first pilgrimage to his home in Nazareth, Luke records (2:51) that he was "obedient to them" [his parents]. From Joseph he learned the trade of Tekton, meaning not just a joiner or carpenter, but a master builder, somebody who worked on the various materials needed for the construction work, including timber and iron, but most frequently stone. Surely Jesus and his foster father were able craftsmen, skilled in the uses of a variety of materials. (With Jesus in Jerusalem, pg 33-34, Bargil Pixner, Corazin Publishing 1996)

Carpenters were regarded as particularly learned. If a difficult problem was under discussion, the Rabbis would ask: "Is there a carpenter among us, of the son of a carpenter, who can solve the problem for us?" Jesus was likely a carpenter who had learned the trade from Joseph, his earthly guardian.

The high esteem in which carpenters were held in Israel counters the common sentimental idyllic notion that Jesus and Joseph were only naive and amiable, simple manual workers. (Jesus' Jewishness, pg 162, Charlesworth, Crossroad Publishing, New York, 1996)

Joseph was called a "just" man in scriptures (a technical religious term) meaning that he would be known as a Tzaddik, a righteous man and a faithful observer of the Mosaic law.

Joseph, with such a positive reputation both with his craft and with his life style, would have, in all probability, been the best qualified person in Nazareth for answering questions and settling disputes among the neighbors.

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