by Wayne Blank
Joseph was of line of Judah (Matthew 1:3-16), a direct descendant of Abraham (Matthew 1:2) through David (Matthew 1:6). He was by trade a carpenter (Matthew 13:55) from Nazareth (in photo) in Galilee (Luke 2:4).
The first that we read of Joseph involved the unusual circumstances of his marriage to Mary:
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:18-21 RSV)
Joseph accepted the responsibility that he was given:
"When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus." (Matthew 1:24-25 RSV)
The journey to Bethlehem and the birth of the Messiah:
"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" (Luke 2:1-7 RSV)
The escape to Egypt:
"an angel of The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him." And he rose and took the child and His mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called My son." (Matthew 2:13-15 RSV)
When Jesus was age 12:
"Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing Him to be in the company they went a day's journey, and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. After three days they found Him in the Temple [see Temples], sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. And when they saw Him they were astonished; and His mother said to him, "Son, why have You treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for You anxiously." And He said to them, "How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father's house?" [see "My Father's House"] (Luke 2:41-49 RSV)
Joseph was certainly older than Mary at the time of their marriage, some believe much older, perhaps in his thirties or forties. Whether it was the age factor (at a time when the average lifespan was far less than today), or something else, Joseph apparently died before, or shortly after, Jesus began His public ministry. His presence is not mentioned at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee when Jesus did His first public miracle, or at the Crucifixion when Mary, who although she would have been only in her late forties, was obviously already then a widow because she thereafter went to live with the apostle John (see Aunt Mary?).
Fact Finder: Why does the Bible record two slightly different lists of ancestors for Jesus Christ?