A third dream for Joseph (Mt 2:19-2:19)

“When Herod died,

An angel of the Lord

Appeared in a dream

To Joseph,

In Egypt.”

 

Τελευτήσαντος δὲ τοῦ Ἡρῴδου, ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου φαίνεται κατ’ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ

 

When King Herod died (Τελευτήσαντος δὲ τοῦ Ἡρῴδου) around 4 BCE, the angel of the Lord again appeared (ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου φαίνεται) to Joseph (τῷ Ἰωσὴφ) for the 3rd time in a dream (κατ’ ὄναρ), while he was still in Egypt (ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ). God, the Father, was continuing to communicate with Joseph via the angel of the Lord, God, in dreams.

Another dream for Joseph (Mt 2:13-2:13)

“Now after the Magi

Had left,

An angel of the Lord

Appeared to Joseph

In a dream.

He said.

‘Get up!

Take the child

With his mother!

Flee to Egypt!

Remain there

Until I tell you!

Herod is about

To search for the child.

He wants to destroy him.’”

 

Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν, ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ’ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων Ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό.

 

After the magi had departed (Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν), once again, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream (ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ’ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ), just like he had before when Joseph accepted Mary as his wife in chapter 1:20-24.  This time, the angel told Joseph to get up (λέγων Ἐγερθεὶς).  He was to take his child with the child’s mother (παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ) in order to flee to Egypt (φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον), the typical place in the Old Testament, where people fled to avoid problems.  They were supposed to stay there in Egypt (ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι), until this angel of the Lord told them it was okay to return.  The main reason for this trip to Egypt, without saying a specific place, was to avoid King Herod who was trying to find and destroy Joseph’s child (μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό).  Just like the infant Moses, in Exodus, chapters 1:15-2-10, Jesus would be saved from death as an infant also.

The dream of Joseph (Mt 1:20-1:20)

“But just when he resolved

To do this,

An angel of the Lord

Appeared to him

In a dream.

Saying.

‘Joseph!

Son of David!

Do not be afraid

To take Mary

As your wife.

The child conceived

In her is

From the Holy Spirit.”

 

ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ’ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυείδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου·

 

Joseph had resolved (αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος) to put away Mary, instead of taking her as his wife. Then an angel of the Lord (ἄγγελος Κυρίου) appeared to him in a dream (ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ). This is somewhat reminiscent of Joseph in Egypt, who interpreted dreams, but said that only God could tell them what they meant in Genesis, chapters 40-41. The various Israelite prophets often got their oracle messages in dreams. Notice that it is an angel of the Lord, “Κυρίου.” There will be no mention of Yahweh in the New Testament, since the Greek Old Testament had translated “Yahweh” into “Lord.” However, the sense was that this was God, the Father, the God of the Old Testament. Angels were the messengers of God, especially in the Book of Tobit, chapter 5, where the angel Raphael appeared to him. This angel goes unnamed here, not like the angel Gabriel of Luke, chapter 1. This angel told Joseph, the son of David, not to be afraid (μὴ φοβηθῇς) to take Mary (παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν) as his wife (τὴν γυναῖκά σου). He had nothing to be worried about. Thus, God, via his angel, was trying to reassure Joseph that everything would be alright. This angel then told Joseph that the child that had been conceived in her (ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν) was from the Holy Spirit (ἐκ Πνεύματός ἐστιν Ἁγίου). In a somewhat awkward phrasing, this text said the conception was from a Spirit that is holy rather than a Holy Spirit as earlier in this text. This shows a developing sense of the divine Holy Spirit.

Joseph and his father (Mt 1:16-1:16)

“Jacob was

The father of Joseph.

He was the husband

Of Mary,

Of whom Jesus was born,

Who is called the Messiah Christ.”

 

Ἰακὼβ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωσὴφ τὸν ἄνδρα Μαρίας, ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη Ἰησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός.

 

The end of this genealogy is Joseph (Ἰωσὴφ) with his father Jacob (Ἰακὼβ).  Perhaps the names of Jacob and Joseph were an attempt to connect Jesus with the great Joseph, the son of Jacob, who brought the sons of Jacob to Egypt.  However, compared to the text in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 3, there is a difference.  Luke has Joseph called “the son of Heli,” not “the son of Jacob.”  The Greek text used the term “begat” (ἐγέννησεν) to represent the relationships between Jacob and Joseph.  It seems perfectly acceptable to simply call him the father, instead of saying “he fathered him.”  This Joseph was the husband of Mary (τὸν ἄνδρα Μαρίας), so that there was no doubt that he was the legal father of Jesus (Ἰησοῦς) and the legal husband of Mary.  The term ἄνδρα could mean man or husband, but the context here is clearly as a husband of Mary.  Instead of begetting (ἐγέννησεν) Jesus, Jesus was born (ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη) into Mary.  Lest there be any question who this Jesus was, he was the one called the anointed one (ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός), the Messiah, the Christ.

The descendants of Perez (Mt 1:3-1:4)

“Perez was

The father of Hezron.

Hezron was

The father of Aram.

Aram was

The father of Aminadab.

Aminadab was

The father of Nahshon,

Nahshon was

The father of Salmon,”

 

Φαρὲς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἐσρώμ, Ἐσρὼμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀράμ,  Ἀρὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀμιναδάβ, Ἀμιναδὰβ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ναασσών, Ναασσὼν δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Σαλμών,

 

The genealogical lineage of Judah went through Perez (Φαρὲς), not Zerah.  According to Genesis, chapter 46, Perez had 2 sons, Hezron (Ἐσρώμ) and Hamul. who went with Jacob to Egypt.  From 1 Chronicles, chapter 2, we learn about the linage of Hezron.  He had 3 sons, Jerahmeel, Aram (Ἀράμ), and Chelubai.  This Aram became the father of Aminadab (Ἀμιναδάβ).  Aminadab had a daughter, Elisheba, who married Aaron, the brother of Moses, in Exodus, chapter 6.  Aminadab was the father of Nahshon (Ναασσών), a famous warrior prince of Judah, especially in Numbers, chapter 7.  Nahshon became the father of Salma or Salmon (Σαλμών).  The Greek text used the term ‘begat’ (ἐγέννησεν) to represent the relationships between these 5 men.  However, it seems perfectly acceptable to simply call them the father instead of saying “fathered them.”

Arius (256-336)

One of the earliest protesters in Christianity was Arius (256-336 CE), the fourth century priest in Alexandria, Egypt.  He believed that God the Father created the universe through the divinely created Christ, but that Jesus was a creature.  Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria disagreed.  The Roman Emperor Constantine called a general council at Nicaea in 325 to settle this dispute.  The result was the definition that Christ was the Son of the Father begotten of the same substance – homousious.  Jesus was truly divine.

The common language at the time of Jesus

After the Babylonian captivity, Aramaic replaced Biblical Hebrew as the everyday language in Israel.  However, Biblical Hebrew was still used for religious purposes.  After Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies and the Seleucids ruled Israel for almost two hundred years.  Thus, the Jewish culture was heavily influenced by this Hellenistic culture.  Koine Greek was used not only for international communication, but also as the first language of some Jews.  This development was furthered complicated by the fact that the largest Jewish community in the world lived in Ptolemaic Alexandria, Egypt.  Many of these diaspora Jews would have Greek as their first language.  Thus, first the Torah, and then other Hebrew scriptures, were translated into standard Koine Greek, the Septuagint.

The Law

The Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch, consisted of first five books that were developed over a number of years, but firmly established around 400 BCE.  The five books of the Pentateuch include Genesis, a 10th-5th century BCE writing about the pre-existence of the Israelites, and the particular stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  The Exodus, finished around 450 BCE, recalls the story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt for years in the desert.  Leviticus and Numbers, worked on between 550-400 BCE, lay out the particular codes, rules and regulations for the Israelites, as well the numbers of people that were involved in the exodus from Egypt.  Deuteronomy, developed in the 7th-6th century BCE, told the story of Moses in the wilderness with emphasis on the laws of the heart.  This Law or Torah explained the early or pre-history of the Israelites before they entered the promised land.  These books also contained all the commands, statutes, or rules for the Israelites after they entered the promised land.  All further Jewish developments were based on the Torah or the Law.

Written Languages

Written languages are nothing more than symbols on a page to confer some thoughts or ideas.  Oral language, written numbers, and written symbols existed before written languages.  Most of the world’s ancient languages began to take shape about 3,000-1,500 BCE, about 5,000 years ago.  The Semitic languages developed in Egypt from about 1,800 to 1,300 BCE.  Thus, the Hebrew of the Bible would have been practically the only written sources.  The Greek language also stems from about the same time around 1,500 BCE.


 

The town of Byblos

Byblos was the Greek name for an important ancient Phoenician city sometimes called Gebal.  Today the town of Byblos is 25 miles north of Beirut, Lebanon, in the Mount Lebanon area on the Mediterranean seacoast.  There have been inhabitants in this town continuously for over 5,000 years.  Byblos had a major papyrus trade between Greece and Egypt.  Thus, the Greek name of Byblos came to dominate.  In fact, some Byblos written inscriptions that were discovered in the 20th century, date from around 1,700 to 1,400 BCE.