BLTC Press Titles

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Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Bhagavad Gita


Jesus the Messiah

by Alfred Edersheim


Wondering, they had dispersed, people and Priests— some to Ophel, some to Jericho, some to their quiet dwellings in the country. But God fulfilled the word which He had spoken by His Angel.



(St. Matt. i.; St. Luke i. 26-80.)

^the Galilee of the time of Jesus was not only of the richest fertility, cultivated to the utmost, and thickly covered with populous towns and villages, but the centre

ofeyery known industry, and the busy road of the world's commerce.

Nor was it t %erwise in Nazareth. The great caravanroute which led from Acco on the sea to Damascus divided at its commencement into three roads, one of which passed through Nazareth. Men of all nations, busy with another life than that of Israel, would appear in its streets; and through them thoughts, associations, and hopes connected with the great outside world be stirred. But, on the other hand, Nazareth was also one of the great centres of Jewish Temple-life. The Priesthood was divided into twenty-four 'courses,' each of which, in turn, ministered in the Temple. The Priests of the 'course' which was to be on duty always gathered in certain towns, whence they went up in company to Jerusalem, while those of their number who were unable to go spent the week in fasting and prayer. Now Nazareth was one of these Priest-centres. Thus, to take the wider view, a double symbolic significance attached to Nazareth, since through it passed alike those who carried on the traffic of the world, and those who ministered in the Temple.

We may take it, that the people of Nazareth were like those of other little towns similarly circumstanced: with all the peculiarities of the impulsive, straight-spoken, hotblooded, brave, intensely national Galileans; with the deeper feelings and almost instinctive habits of thought and life, which were the outcome of long centuries of Old Testament training; but also with the petty interests and jealousies of such places, and with all the ceremonialism and punctilious self-assertion of Orientals. The cast of Judaism prevalent in Nazareth would, of course, be the same as in Galilee generally. We know, that there were marled divergences from the observances in that stronghold of Rabbinism, Judaea—indicating greater simplicity and freedom from the constant intrusion of traditional ordinances. The purity of betrothal in Galilee was less likely to be sullied, and weddings were more simple than • st. John in Judaea—without the dubious institution of l"•2S groomsmen, or 'friends of the bridegroom. a The bride was chosen, not as in Judaea, where money was too often the motive, but as in Jerusalem, with chief regard to 'a fair degree;' and widows were (as in Jerusalem) more tenderly cared for.

Whatever view may be taken of the genealogies in the Gospels according to St. Matthew and St. Luke, there can be no question that both Joseph and Mary were of the royal lineage of David. Most probably the two were (/nearly related, while Mary could also claim kinship with the Priesthood, being, no .doubt on her mother's side, a »st. Lukei. 'blood-relative' of Elisabeth, the Priest-wife of 30 Zacharias." Even this seems to imply that

Mary's family must shortly before have held higher rank, for only with such did custom sanction any alliance on the part of Priests. But at the time of their betrothal, alike Joseph and Mary were extremely poor, as appears—not indeed from his being a carpenter, since a trade was regarded as almost a religious duty—but froji^h^offering » st. Luke at ...the presentation of Jesus in the Temple.b ii-24 Accordingly, their betrothal must have been of

the simplest, and the dowry settled the smallest possible.1 From that moment Mary was the betrothed wife of Joseph; their relationship as sacred as if they had already been wedded. Any breach of it would be treated as adultery; nor could the bond be dissolved except, as after marriage, by regular divorce. Yet months might intervene between the betrothal and marriage.

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