JOSEPH: THE OTHER FATHER
Jesus grew up in a violent world. Just how violent was it? The Romans and Zealots were constantly having skirmishes along the highways and in towns. Sometimes their own king or government attacked the people by the thousands, often at the annual Jewish feasts held in Jerusalem three times a year, such as when Jesus was eleven years old.
Sometimes the violence came from outside. Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, was in charge of the Province of Galilee where Jesus lived most of his life, and he had a habit of making people made. When Jesus was ten, Herod made the King of Arabia mad. So he joined forces with the legate of Syria and they invaded Galilee with 100,000 soldiers.
Nazareth was just three miles from Sepphoris where Herod’s palace was. Where were 100,000 soldiers supposed to camp while bulwarks and trenches and other such things used in war were made? Surely Joseph and the other fathers of Nazareth knew they had to defend their families against soldiers molesting and even killing Nazarenes so they could take over their houses. Joseph surely barricaded his family in and nailed the front gate closed, and put barriers up on the roof so the soldiers couldn’t climb ladders to get to them.
In addition to all this, there were the hazards of the job of carpentry. Joseph surely took Jesus with him up into the hills to chop down trees. There were bears in those hills.
Nazareth was just a small unwalled village of five hundred people then. Joseph could not support a family in such a small village. He surely did a lot of work in Sepphoris three miles away. It was rebuilt after it was burned down and a lot of carpentry was required then. Later, Tiberius over on Lake Galilee was built. Also, Bethsaida was turned into a walled city at that time and many government buildings added. Travel was always dangerous. Working in close areas where there was a lot of construction work going on was dangerous.
Through it all, Joseph had his assignment: Protect the Son of God. What went through his mind day after day through those twenty-nine years before Jesus began his public ministry?
How many times did Joseph jump in front of little-boy Jesus because something falling would kill him, but only injure Joseph? And the teasing in town. People could count. They knew Mary was pregnant when Joseph married her. What names did they call Mary? What names did they call Jesus? And when Jesus was twelve and they couldn’t find him for three days: As they frantically searched street after street, knocking on doors and asking, “Have you seen our little boy? He goes by the name of Jesus and he’s such-and-such tall.” And going through the markets and down alleys and calling out, “Jesus! Jesus! Where are you?”
What responsibility. I cannot imagine taking it on. Can you?
Katheryn Haddad was born in the cold north, but now lives in Arizona where she does not have to shovel sunshine. She enjoys hot weather, palm trees and cacti in her yard, and a computer with the letters worn off.
With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.
Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.
Currently she teaches English over the internet every morning, using the Bible as a text book. Most of her students are Muslims. She has taught some 6000 thus far, and has former students, now Christians, in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Palestine. “They are my heroes” she declares.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers of the West, and is also an energetic public speaker who can touch the heart of audiences.
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