Inspirations

Archive for the ‘Xmas’ Category

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

by Beth Piepenburg

INTRODUCTION

Chiasmus 1This passage is written in a chiasmus structure, much like a sandwich with the bread on the outside, the condiments and salad material inside, and the meat as the main course or central theme.

While the story is about Elisabeth’s conception, and the magnificent appearance of the angel Gabriel, the central theme is about the words of Zacharias. Scratching my head and pondering why the words of Zacharias were the theme, I began to understand that he represented Israel at a time when believing in God’s promises was difficult.

ELISABETH WAS BARREN

chiasmus2

Zacharias and his wife were well advanced in years. In their younger days they had lived under the independent Jewish kingdom with the reigning Hasmonean dynasty. In 63 BC, Pompey conquered Jerusalem, making the Jewish kingdom a Roman client state. In 40 BC the Parthians (Persians) invaded and drove out the Romans in many of the eastern Roman provinces. The Hasmonean dynasty was reestablished under Antigonus II Mattathias, a pro-Parthian monarch. Fleeing to Rome, Herod was proclaimed King of the Jews by the Roman Senate in 39 BC. Fighting for control of Judea, Herod was entrusted to govern the province by Antony in 35 BC, and remained in power shortly after the eclipse in 1 BC. So, Zacharias and his wife had seen much conflict in their land over the years. Where was God in all this turmoil?Herod Rule

Both Zacharias and his wife were descendants of Aaron, the first high priest of the tribe of Levi. Zacharias’ name meant Yah has remembered, but did Zacharias wonder if God had remembered him as he had prayed for his country and for a child? Elisabeth was named after Aaron’s wife, Elisheba, meaning God has sworn. Zacharias served in the eighth division of Abijah, which these priestly divisions had been originally instituted by King David. The number eight signifies the Resurrection. Zacharias would serve in the Temple at Jerusalem when the time came for his division to be present.

When life has its hardships, Job’s comforters will contribute their unwarranted explanation. Barrenness obviously has to do with God’s lack of blessing because of sin, right? I’m sure many wondered about Zacharias and Elisabeth and why they had failed to be blessed by God. However, Scripture clearly indicates that they were both righteous before God and that they were blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. What a high recommendation!

Elisabeth’s barrenness served as a reflection of the barrenness of Israel. Throughout the ages, God had promised the Messiah to the nation of Israel. Any hope of being liberated from Rome and from the Edomite King Herod seemed futile. The life of Elisabeth and Zacharias appeared fruitless without any children. Was there any hope left?

THE PEOPLE WERE PRAYING

chiasmus3Only the descendants of Aaron could enter the Holy Place to offer incense, but after four hundred years the number of descendants had grown. When David was king, he appointed 24 divisions with each division serving twice a year besides the Feasts. With thousands of Aaronic descendant, the chance that a priest would offer incense might be once in a lifetime. Had Zacharias ever served before?ZachariasIncense

When did the eighth division serve? Besides the major feasts, the eighth division would have served either in the third or eighth Jewish month. Since the Annunciation of Mary has been reckoned to be first day of the ancient seventh month of 3 B.C., Elisabeth would have conceived sometime after the preceding Passover. Thus, the angelic visitation to Zacharias might have fallen in the third month (May-June) of 4 B.C., the eighth month (October-November) of 4 B.C., or during the Passover (March) of 3 B.C.

Twice a day incense was burnt, which were made of four precious spices: stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense. Chosen to serve on this particular morning, Zacharias must have been somewhat unnerved to follow protocol as prescribed. He would enter into the Holy Place alone and have the privilege to burn incense to the Lord!

While the priest would offer incense to the Lord, the people would be praying outside. Besides personal prayers, many offered prayers for the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel and for the coming Messiah.

WORDS OF THE ANGEL

chiasmus4What an astonishment for Zacharias to see a heavenly being suddenly appear next to the altar! No wonder fear gripped him.

The angel addresses Zacharias’ present state of fear, his past years of prayers that seemed to have gone unheard, and the future about a son.  However, this son was to be named John, meaning Yehovah-favored. The importance of naming the child John pertained to God’s destiny rather than family tradition.GabrielZacharias

Of course, this child would bring joy and gladness to this elderly couple because they would enjoy their remaining lives with their son and never live to see his imprisonment or death.  Yet, many would rejoice at his miraculous birth because they would know that God had not forgotten his people.

John’s destiny was to be great in God’s presence, but he was expected to live a life of a Nazarite, not partaking in liquor and possibly never having his hair cut. Even Elisabeth would abstain from liquor until she had weaned John. To fulfill his godly purpose, John would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the womb. Could that have happened when he was conceived or on the Shavuot (Pentecost)?

How would John return the people to their God? He never performed the miracles that Elijah had done, but called Israel to repentance like Elijah. He would speak to their hearts in three ways: by turning the hearts of the fathers toward their children, by turning the heart to seek righteous wisdom, and by preparing the hearts of the people for the Messiah.

WORDS OF ZACHARIAS

Chiasmus5What a question to ask an angel? Zacharias would have been well versed in Jewish scripture. Besides the story of Abraham and Sarah having Isaac in their old age, he would have known the prophecy of Malachi that an Elijah would return for the purpose of turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.  Could it be that his heart was hardened with the sadness of life that he lacked any faith? Even an appearance of an angel failed to generate faith.

Why is this verse the theme for this passage about the birth of John the Baptist? Perhaps, Zacharias exemplified Israel, an older nation compared to Rome. For centuries, they had awaited the Promise of a Savior and the return of the Kingdom of David. Had God forgotten his people and his promises?

WORDS OF THE ANGEL GABRIEL

chiasmus6Zacharias must have been shocked when the angel identifies himself and his purpose. Gabriel, meaning Man of God, was the archangel mentioned in Daniel.

For God to work in Zacharias’ and Elisabeth’s lives, he would need cooperation from Zacharias. By silencing Zacharias, the angel put a damper on Zacharias’ unbelief, which would have affected the future of Israel.

THE PEOPLE ARE WAITING

chiasmus7Can you imagine after the hour of incense that the people wondered what had happened to Zacharias? Although he was older, Zacharias was in good health. What should be done? In order to enter the Holy Place, another priest would have to cleanse himself. At last, Zacharias exited, and the crowd wondered what happened. He responded only with signs because he was struck mute. What people had waited for through the centuries was to be accomplished.

ELISABETH CONCEIVED

chiasmus8While his service at the temple was fulfilled, Zacharias with his wife Elisabeth awaited for the fulfillment of the angel’s words.  After she conceived, why did she hide herself five months? By the Jewish lunar-solar calendar, the end of five months would be twenty weeks, exactly half of her pregnancy. At twenty weeks, she would began to show and would experience a “quickening” when the first movements of her child could be felt. She had waited for the Lord to fulfill what the angel Gabriel had spoken to her husband. Although she had been righteous before God, she would no longer bear the criticism of people

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Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2015. All rights reserved.

 

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Abraham Carried the Seed

by Beth PiepenburgAbraham Journey

Abram was living in Ur of the Chaldees, in present day Southeastern Turkey, with his father Terah.  Although from the righteous lineage of Shem, a son of Noah, his father Terah was a pagan worshiper. When Abram had irritated his fellow Chaldeans with his talk about the true God, he and his father were forced to leave Ur. Although the Lord was directing Abram to move to the land of Canaan, his father preferred to relocate at Haran, about forty miles south of Ur, and set up a center for the worship of Sin, the moon goddess.

After the death of his father five years later, seventy-five year old Abram was free to follow the Lord’s directive to dwell in Canaan. Here the Lord promised him that his seed would be numerous, but from his seed would come One in which all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Not only was Abram to be blessed with a son, but Abram was carrying through his own seed the spiritual promise of a physical Savior.

However, God was not yet ready to give Abram a son until he and his wife Sarai were mature in their faith. They settled in various places, learning to grow in faith. When famine hit they abandoned Canaan and dwelt in Egypt. Relying in his own cleverness rather than trusting God, Abram told the Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister rather than his wife. Well, she was a paternal cousin, a little stretch from sister. When Pharaoh discovered their half-truth, they were told to leave. Returning to Canaan, their faith in God developed deeper roots.

Faith is like a mustard seed that begins small and grows to be a large plant. Likewise, Abraham’s faith had started with a small seed of belief and for centuries continued to grow with his descendants. The ultimate return of his faith would come to fruition with the Promised Seed.

Being ten years from when Abram and Sarai had left Haran, God had not provided them a physical heir. While ten means completion, they found themselves uncompleted or lacking a son. So, Sarai hatched a plan of using her handmaid, Hagar, as a surrogate mother. Ishmael was conceived, and Abram and Sarai were satisfied with the outcome. (Ishmael became the father of the Saracens, not the Arabians.)

When Abram was ninety-nine, the Lord appeared to announce His blessings over Abraham’s lineage, to instruct him about the covenant rite of circumcision, to give Abram and Sarai a name change, and to shake their world with the promise of a son through Sarah. Well, wouldn’t you laugh, if your wife was well past the age of bearing children? As promised, the next year Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.

Several years later, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Perhaps, Abraham thought that Isaac was the Promised Seed and God would provide a miracle. With heavy heart, Abraham took Isaac, a lad, up to the mountains of Moriah, possibly the very same spot where Christ was crucified. Willingly, Isaac laid himself on the altar, putting his trust in his father. Relief swept over father and son when the angel of the Lord called out to stop Abraham, because the purpose of the test was to see if Abraham feared the Lord. Whew! A ram was caught in the thicket for the sacrifice! The imagery speaks so well of the Father giving his Son as a sacrifice on Calvary, and a Son willing to lay his life down. Surely, the promise of a Seed was being passed down from Abraham unto generations later, to Mary the mother of Jesus.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2015. All rights reserved.

DNA of Eve’s Seed

by Beth PiepenburgSeed2

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall lie in wait for your head,
And you shall lie in wait for His heel.”
(Gen 3:15)

Clearly, Eve and Adam had disobeyed the command of the LORD to not eat of the Tree of Life, knowing that the consequences would be death. The LORD told the Serpent, which had tempted Eve to disobey the LORD, that his seed would face an enemy, her Seed. Therefore, the LORD had a specific plan to set mankind free from the grip of the enemy.

While Scripture refers to women possessing seed, the scientific fact was not discovered until 1928 by Edgar Allen. Mankind had thought that the seed only came via the male, and most societies set up the family and tribal units with the patriarchal ties, which has its importance. In traditional Judaism, land and family ties are connected to the male, but Jewishness is passed down through the mother.

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from the mother through her seed, since any mitochondrial DNA from the father is destroyed during the fertilization process. Eve’s mitochondrial DNA would pass through the female line all the way from Eve to Mary, the mother of Jesus!

mtDNAY-DNA

While the X-chromosome of the mother is inherited by her sons and daughters, the X-chromosome of the father is inherited only by his daughters. Only the sons inherit the Y-chromosome of their father. Although Mary would not receive a Y-chromosome from her father, she would receive an X-chromosome from him that had originated with Adam. She also would receive an X-chromosome from her mother that had originated from both Adam and Eve.

Therefore, the importance of Eve’s seed was the ability to transfer human mitochondrial DNA and the X-chromosome to successive generations, which would guarantee redemption for the entire human race through Jesus Christ. Although Adam’s X-chromosome would be handed down to Mary, his Y-chromosome would not. Mary’s would be dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit to produce a Y-chromosome for her Godly Seed, and for the healing of her human DNA.

The battle of the two seeds pertain to the head, which represents source of nurturing, and the feet, which represents authority. The serpent’s seed would lie in wait to attack the authority of Christ, but Christ, the Seed of the woman, would attack the source of the Antichrist, that is, Satan. God has put all things under Christ’s feet (authority), and gave Him to be the head (nurturing source) of all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all. (Eph. 1:22-23)

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2015. All rights reserved.

Joseph and Mary

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“Adoration of the Shepherds” by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

by Beth Piepenburg

24 Now when Yoseph arose from his sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and he took his wife, 25 and he did not know her until she had given birth to her first-born son and she called his name Yeshua.

Joseph, who had been contemplating on divorcing his espoused wife, had an angel appear in a dream. When Joseph arose from his sleep, he did several important things expressed by Matthew in four subordinate clauses, which are not always translated well in most English translations.

First, Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. I’ve heard some indicate Joseph was a mediocre step-father whom God needed to hit over the head by an angel so God’s plan could move accordingly. I disagree! Scripture says Joseph was righteous, and I think he was God’s best man for the calling. Desiring his actions to be done God’s ways, Joseph sought the Lord for help, and he was very much in tune with God’s plans. Because of Joseph’s receptivity, the Lord sent an angel to Joseph on three different accounts to confirm or prepare Joseph for the next major changes that would affect the life of Jesus. Most of all, Joseph was obedient and full of faith.

Second, Joseph took his wife. Since Mary was espoused to Joseph, they had already entered into a written agreement of marriage called a ketubah. Having believed that Mary had violated the contract by becoming pregnant from another man, Joseph would have been justified to seek for a divorce.  However, the angel of the Lord confirmed Mary’s story that her pregnancy had come from the Holy Spirit, and validated the event as prophesied by Isaiah. Therefore, instead of “putting her away”, he took her into his home as his wife fulfilling the legal contract.

Third, Joseph did not know Mary until she had given birth to her firstborn son. Although Matthew had already written they had not come together previous to Joseph taking her as his wife, the gospel account continued to emphasize their celibacy status after marriage. Apparently, the angel must have conveyed that they were to remain celibate until the birth of the Lord. However, the word until does not necessarily mean that they did or did not have marital relationship after the birth. If a parent tells a child that he/she cannot legally vote until he/she is eighteen years old, it does not mean that the child will ever vote in an election, but that age is no longer a restriction. Likewise, Joseph and Mary would be free to fulfill intimate relationship towards each other. However, did they?[1]

In the Jewish culture, firstborn does not mean that others siblings follow. Primogeniture is right of the one who is first to come forth from the uterus to have a title of preeminence, and to receive the double inheritance.  The firstborn had first place among his siblings (Gen. 43:33, Deut. 21:17), and held some authority over his siblings (Gen. 37:21-30). Before the Law was established, the firstborn included a right to the priesthood. In Ex. 13:2, the Lord tells the Israelites that the firstborn were to be sanctified. In Ex 34:19-20, the Lord tells the Israelites that the firstborn were to be redeemed. In Num. 18:15-16, every firstborn male was to be redeemed for 5 shekels. So, Joseph and Mary would have had to pay this redemption price for Jesus.

Fourth, she named him Jesus, as translated from the Aramaic Peshitta. The angel had already told Joseph that Mary was to call the name of the baby Jesus (Yeshua). Thus, Joseph is obedient to angel’s words. Why? Mary is the woman chosen by God to bear the Seed of salvation promised after the fall of mankind (Gen. 3:15). As Eve birthed sin into the world by her act of disobedience, Mary has to be responsible to speak the name of the child as Jesus (Yeshua), a savior for mankind. As Adam had supported Eve in their disobedience, Joseph is to support Mary in their obedience to God.

Therefore, Joseph was obedient to the angel’s directive by taking Mary as his wife, by protecting her virgin status, and by allowing her to name the baby Jesus.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2014. All rights reserved.


 

[1] As a Protestant, I have researched this topic and have found some surprising conclusions. From the time of the early church until the last century, the Christian Church comprised of Protestants, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Catholic believed that Mary remained celibate. With exception of the Roman Catholic Church, everyone else believed Mary was born with a sinful nature and was in need of a Savior. From early writings, both Joseph and Mary believed that her female anatomy had become too sacred to enjoy a normal marriage relationship as a result of what God had done in the conception and birth of Jesus. Remember, Joseph was much older, and references to brothers and sisters could be children born to Joseph from a previous marriage or just cousins. It’s a topic worth researching with open eyes, mind, and heart.

Was Mary a Virgin?

by Beth Piepenburg

220px-Giorgione_045Mt. 1:23 Behold a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call his name Emmanuel which is interpreted, ‘Our God is with us’.

Some say that the word virgin in Isaiah 7:14 was mistranslated as young maiden, and was fulfilled shortly thereafter. If so, then why does Matthew use this particular Scripture in reference to Mary? By looking at historical context, language, and Biblical astronomy, we can validate Matthew’s use of the word virgin.

Why did Isaiah prophesy this verse? When King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Northern Israel conspired against King Ahab of Judah, the prophet Isaiah meets Ahab and gives him a word to not fear these two kings. Isaiah informs Ahab that these two kings have conspired against Ahab to set a puppet king to him, and that it won’t stand nor come to pass. Being a critical time for the Davidic dynasty, Isaiah gives a prophetic word to Ahab that if he would trust the Lord, then he would be established. Ahab fails to trust the Lord, and used the temple gold and silver to request help from Tiglathpileser III of Assyria for help. Although Syria and eventually Northern Israel would be destroyed, Ahab’s reign held many problems including his pagan worship.

When Isaiah delivers the prophetic word to Ahab, the Lord challenges Ahab to ask for a sign, which Ahab refuses to do. Then Isaiah turns to everyone present, and addresses the House of David, to give them a sign of hope, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Fifteen year old Hezekiah, Ahab’s son, would one day rule and continue the lineage of David. God’s purpose of a future Savior could not be thwarted by the fickleness of Ahab.

almah = young female, maiden (H.)
bethulah = a virgin (H.)
parthenos = a virgin maiden (G.)
virgo = virgin (L.)
ܒܬܘܠܬܐ = chaste girl, virgin (S. Peshitta.)

Concerning whether the word virgin or young maiden is correct, some claim the Hebrew word almah was originally used and mistranslated by the Greek Septuagint. While almah means young maiden, the high expectation of a young maiden entering marriage would be to keep her virginity before marriage. In one sense, the difference of the words is a minor point, but in the sense of a prophetic word given centuries beforehand and referenced by Matthew, the difference is a moot point. Because scribal copies of prophetic Writings were less scrutinized than the Torah, variant copies surfaced. Although the Great Isaiah scroll from the 1st century BC and the Masoretic Text of the 9th century AD uses almah, yet the Greek Septuagint had translated this passage with the word parthenos. Was the Greek Septuagint translation, which was agreed upon by seventy Jewish scholars and approved by the High Priest, correctly rendering parthenos from an earlier Hebrew text using bethulah? Were the later editions of the Hebrew/Aramaic substandard? Or did these Jewish scholars feel that parthenos would convey the best context of the original Hebrew word?

 To further validate the point, both Mt. 1:23 and its chiastic counterpart Mt. 1:18 indicate that Joseph and Mary abstained in their marriage relationship prior to the birth of Christ, because of the importance of Mary remaining a virgin. Since Matthew would have access to the commonly used Septuagint and the Aramaic scrolls, he would be aware of any differences. Remember, Matthew’s audience is the Jewish nation.

From an astronomical position, the first sign of the Jewish Mazzaroth is Bethulah or Virgo, as we know the constellation. Bethulah is the Virgin holding the ear of barley (firstfruits) in her left hand and the Branch in her left hand. The dominant star in the ear is Spica, the Seed, which can mean stream, or ear of grain, usually barley. The other stars in the Branch are Zavijava = the gloriously beautiful, Subilon = a spike of corn, and Vindemiatrix = the son or branch who comes. So, the stars and grain symbolism in the constellation of Virgo, which validates a Son who will be the firstfruits.

Virgo Yom Teruah 3 bc

At sunset on September 11, 3 BC, the seventh Chodesh (new moon) of the year appeared, situated in the constellation of Virgo. With this particular Chodesh came the celebration of Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets. Before dawn arrived, Jupiter was very close to Regulus in the Constellation of Leo, creating an effect of a very bright “star”. On this day, Mary would have most likely conceived the Lord Jesus Christ. As the last three fall feasts conclude the end of the agricultural season of farming, so the sounds of the trumpets on this particular Yom Teruah would announce the end of the age of Old Testament times.

Leo Yom Teruah 3 bcWhile some focus on nitpicking over the word virgin and guessing at interpretations, we can be assured that Matthew’s use of the word virgin can be validated by historical context of Isaiah, language, and Biblical astronomy.Virgo2 Yom Teruah 3 bc

 

 

 

 

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.

PROPHECY FULFILLED by Beth Piepenburg

250px-Isaiah_(Bible_Card)Mt. 1:22 And this all happened that it might be fulfilled what was said from the Lord by the prophet:

We might think the theme has to do with the conception and birth of Christ, but it is not. Wait a minute, isn’t the story about the baby Jesus who was born to be a Savior? Yes, but the theme is not about the birth.  The central theme of verses Mt. 1:18-25 can be found by looking at the chiastic structure.

299px-CheeseburgerChiastic structure is a literary device using symmetrical patterns in ancient writing to point the reader to what is important. You might say it was similar to putting the important point in bold print. Besides, the Scriptures weren’t organized in verses in ancient times. In other words, chiastic structure is like a hamburger. The top and bottom layers contain the bun. Layered inside is the lettuce, onions, pickles, tomatoes, cheese, and condiments on either side of the bun. The innermost part contains the meat or the theme of the sandwich, called the central axis or climax.[1]

CHIASTIC STRUCTURE OF MATTHEW 1:18-25

Chiastic Mt 1 18 25

So, looking at the chiastic structure of this passage in Matthew, the outer layers address the sexual purity, conception and birth, and divorce and marriage. Layered inside is the Lord’s name as Jesus or Emmanuel, with the interpretation. The innermost layer contains the theme: “And this all happened that it might be fulfilled what was said from the Lord by the prophet.”

Because as our culture is focused on the introduction and ending of this passage, we miss the point. Remember, Matthew was written in ancient times specifically to the Jews, so he uses chiastic structure to point to the theme, which is about the fulfilling of prophecy. In fact, Matthew doesn’t need to name the prophet, because the Jews would have known the reference was from Isaiah. So, why is Mt 1:22 so important? Because Matthew is saying that Scripture is being fulfilled, a very important point for a Jew to consider. Truth must be validated.

Once we understand that the point of this passage concerns the fulfillment of prophecy, we should be able to perceive the rest of the passage in its proper perspective of supporting the chiastic theme.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.


[1] For basic information about chiasms, see http://bible-discernments.com/joshua/whatisachiasm.html.

THE ANGEL APPEARS TO JOSEPH by Beth Piepenburg

474px-'Joseph's_Dream',_painting_by_Gaetano_Gandolfi,_c._1790Mt 1:20-21. But while he pondered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, the son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife: for he who is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son, and she shall call his name JESUS (YESHUA), for he shall save (yawshah) his people from their sins.”

What was Joseph to do? As his weary mind was overwhelmed with his predicament, he fell asleep while seeking God’s help. Surely, you have had life situations that left you tossing and turning during the night, too. Lo and behold, an angel appeared in his dream! The angelic message served two purposes, one of which is to help Joseph understand his immediate circumstances, and the other will be captured in my next story.

Whenever the word, behold, is used in Scripture, it is a signal for the reader to pay attention. Recognizing the word behold is not just some kind of archaic introductory word, but rather the word is alerting the reader that an angel of the Lord has appeared to Joseph. Angels are very important to Jewish culture, because they are sent from God to deliver a special message. Interestingly, Matthew records four angelic appearances. Three times an angel appeared to Joseph concerning the Christ child, and the fourth time an angel appeared to the women who came to the tomb of Jesus. However, the focus isn’t upon the angel, but the message.

First, the angel addresses Joseph by his name, and then by his ancestry since Joseph is the son of David. Now that the angel has Joseph’s full attention, he addresses Joseph’s problem. Fear! Although I think this was a cautious fear on Joseph’s part, he needed to be assured that God was involved in his and Mary’s lives in a unique way. The reason he was not to fear is that the conception was the work of the Holy Spirit.

Then, the angel foretells that Mary will have a son and that she is to name him Jesus (Yeshua)[1]. Depending on the community, Jewish naming of the firstborn could be done by either the father or the mother. However, the angel Gabriel had already told Mary that she was to call the baby’s name, Jesus[2]. The reason his name is to be called Jesus (Yeshua) is that He shall save (yawshah) his people from their sins. Notice the Hebrew word play between Jesus (Yeshua) and save (yawshah).

Another reason the angel is specifically saying that Mary is to call the name of the baby Jesus (Yeshua) has to do with her significant role. Besides needing a personal Savior, she is the woman chosen by God to bear the Seed of salvation promised after the fall of mankind[3]. As Eve birthed sin into the world by her act of disobedience, Mary has to be responsible to speak out the name of the child as Jesus (Yeshua), a savior for mankind. As Adam had supported Eve in their disobedience, Joseph is to support Mary in their obedience to God. Also, Mary, the Elect Lady (2 John), symbolizes those who would recognize their own necessity for a personal savior and become future members of the universal Church, the body of Christ[4].

For Joseph to understand his role as protector of Mary and Jesus, he needed to seek the Lord. However, what God had planted in Mary, the promise to Adam and Eve for the redemption of mankind, was so much greater than Joseph could have imagined.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.


[1] Since the Gospel of Matthew was written in the Aramaic Hebrew, I reference the oldest Aramaic Peshitta copies. Older Greek and Latin variants are divided as to the use of the pronoun, she or you, because of the ambiguity in the Aramaic. The only clues to what is correct is context.

[2] Luke 1:31

[3] Gen 3

[4] As a Protestant, my research using ancient Christian writings broadens my understanding of the Orthodox.