Summary: Born in 33 BCE, Joseph was the husband of Miriam, and younger brother of
Alpheus. Living as a successful carpenter in Nazareth, Joseph was a loving father
to eight children: Yeshua, Judas Thomas, James, Joses, Simon, Judith, Esther, and
Sarah (Y:3:7). While he was not the biological father of the twins, Yeshua and Judas
Thomas, he raised and loved them as his own.
In 17 CE, Joseph was among twenty Jews chosen at random by Roman soldiers to be crucified
as an object lesson in response to an attack against a Roman garrison by the Zealot
insurrectionist, Judas of Gamala. Joseph’s death occurred while Yeshua was away in
Qumran, studying under John the Baptizer (Commentary - Yeshua & Mary). Yeshua was
approximately 23 years old. After Joseph’s tragic death, his family was cared after
primarily by Alpheus and Yeshua.
Azrael’s Commentary - Joseph
Father of Yeshua, husband of Miriam, general carpenter and cabinet maker of Nazareth.
Born in 33 BCE, Joseph was easily the most loved man in Nazareth. Both Jews and Gentiles
found him to be kind, compassionate and in possession of a gentle humor. His work
was in great demand not only in Nazareth, but also in the surrounding towns and villages.
Joseph was careful to teach his sons the trade of carpentry; but of all his sons,
Yeshua proved the most skillful.
Joseph was the father of eight children, and he worked hard at trying to be a firm
disciplinarian. But his soft heart and easy ways made it difficult. This left the
disciplining of the children to his wife, Miriam. Yet Miriam could never really fault
him for it. Her love for Joseph was always tender and all encompassing. The relationship
between Joseph and Miriam was a truly touching thing to watch.
Joseph was idolized by his younger brother Alpheus. They lived in the same town and
their families enjoyed a close relationship which interacted well together.
It was Joseph who taught Yeshua to read the scriptures. From his youth, Joseph always
wanted to be a rabbi, but the demands of taking care of and providing for a family
prevented it. So Joseph became hopeful that his son, Yeshua, might one day become
a much loved and respected rabbi of a large and prosperous synagogue.
In the year 17 CE, Joseph was crucified by Roman soldiers as an object lesson to
the Jews of Nazareth. This came about because of Judas of Gamala who had attacked
and killed about twenty Romans which were garrisoned at Jotapata. In an act of revenge,
the Romans went to the nearest town, which was Nazareth, and gathering all the men
of Nazareth together, picked out twenty men at random and crucified them. Joseph
was one of those men.
The death of Joseph and other innocent men turned Jews against Judas of Gamala. With
Joseph gone, Yeshua became the head of the family.
Azrael’s Commentary - Judas of Gamala
[...] It should be noted that it was the actions of Judas of Gamala which led to
the death of Joseph, the father of Yeshua.
Azrael’s Commentary - Virgin Birth
Yeshua, unlike Christ, was conceived in the same manner as all other humans. His
birth was a miraculous event just as all other births are miraculous events; but
it was certainly no more than that. What is the true story behind the conception
and birth of Yeshua? To answer this question, I must start at the beginning. I must
tell you the true love story of Joseph and Miriam, the father and mother of Yeshua.
Miriam was born into a large family and raised in Nazareth. She spent the first twelve
years of her life there. Her father was a disgruntled rabbi; he was petty, mean-spirited,
grasping, vain and hypocritical in his dealings with others. He was eventually expelled
from his synagogue for accepting bribes, and because of his dealing in stolen goods
which he foolishly tried to sell back to the original owners. And so the people of
Nazareth had had enough of Miriam’s father. His blatant dishonesty and pettiness
had simply become too much for them, and they drove him and his family out of town.
Miriam’s father went to Jerusalem where he had relatives. And although he was a disgraced
rabbi, he could never see that he had done anything wrong. He blamed everyone but
himself for his misfortunes. And he took out his hurt and anger on his family, especially
on his youngest daughter Miriam.
Joseph was also born and raised in Nazareth, and from an early age, he worked in
his father’s carpentry shop. Joseph was about ten years older than Miriam. And because
Nazareth was such a small town, Joseph knew Miriam and her family quite well before
they were expelled from the town.
By the time Miriam was twelve, Joseph was in love with her. But Miriam’s father proved
an enormous obstacle. He did not think that Joseph was good enough to marry his youngest
daughter. And so he demanded that Joseph pay an exorbitant price to initiate a marriage
contract. For Joseph, the price was beyond his means. Miriam’s father did not like
Joseph. Why? Because Joseph was just too happy about life. And although the people
of the town liked Joseph, they tended to think of him as just some tall, gangly,
young man who was just too dumb to know how miserable his life was. The one thing
that annoyed the Jews of Nazareth about Joseph was his friendliness towards anyone
and everyone. He was friendly and cheerful towards Greeks, Romans, Arabs, etc. Joseph
simply made no distinction between Jews and Gentiles; he treated everyone the same.
Thus in the synagogue, Joseph was never taken seriously. His natural disposition
was in contrast to most of the Jews in Nazareth. As a young man, Joseph was a happy,
jovial, sometimes boisterous person. He was always laughing, singing, smiling and
telling stories. Life was a wonder to him and that’s all there was to it. Joseph’s
whole family seemed to be that way: his father, mother, brothers and sisters. So
Joseph came by his happy disposition quite honestly. And while almost everyone liked
Joseph, the Jews of Nazareth did not know if they could quite trust him. To his friends
and neighbors, Joseph’s happy disposition seemed to imply that Joseph might be lacking
in mental awareness.
As for Miriam herself, she was viewed by her Jewish neighbors as contrary and strange.
As a young girl she did not seem to know her proper place in the social fabric of
Jewish society. Miriam was great at cooking, cleaning, spinning and sewing; but she
seemed to think that her opinion should carry as much weight as any boy her age.
This attitude scandalized the Jews of the synagogue. For Miriam seemed to have an
opinion on Jewish laws, customs and scriptures. She not only had large portions of
scriptures memorized, Miriam could also read and write.
And who taught her to read and write? Joseph did! When Miriam was only five years
old, she wandered into Joseph’s shop. The young girl proved precocious, curious and
delightful. Over succeeding years Joseph taught her what he knew. By the time Miriam
was twelve, she would engage Joseph and his brothers in lively theological debate.
This knowledge of scripture troubled the Jews of Nazareth and they began to wonder
if Miriam might not be a witch. This view would have taken a dark and dangerous turn
if Miriam’s father hadn’t been driven out of Nazareth first.
When Miriam’s family left Nazareth in disgrace, they settled in the city of David,
Jerusalem. Joseph did not see Miriam for five years. In Jerusalem, Miriam’s father
became more and more embittered; for he was forced to live in much poorer circumstances,
and he blamed Miriam for this. He convinced himself that it was Miriam’s strange
ways which got him kicked out of his synagogue, and that he was just an innocent
victim of his daughter’s witchery. At the tender age of fourteen, Miriam was thrown
into the streets and back alley ways of Jerusalem to fend for herself.
So at the age of fourteen, Miriam was forced by necessity to take up the only profession
allowed to the women of her day, prostitution. And her father took every opportunity
to denounce her as a whore. And every time her father saw her, he would demand a
part of her earnings to pay him back for all the trouble she caused her family. By
the time Miriam was seventeen, she had gotten pregnant, and the father was a Roman
soldier named Pensius; a decturian at the Fortress Antonio in Jerusalem.
It is here that Joseph re-enters the life of Miriam. Joseph had gone to Jerusalem
to do some carpentry for a very rich merchant. Jerusalem was a small city, and one
day as Joseph was walking through the market, he saw Miriam sitting nearby. He was
delighted to see her. But Miriam seemed terribly despondent. She was happy to see
Joseph, but she was pregnant with the child of a Roman soldier. Finally, after some
gentle prodding from Joseph, Miriam told him everything. Joseph proved compassionate
and understanding, for all he really knew was that he loved her and was glad to be
near her again. At seventeen, Miriam was very beautiful.
For days thereafter, they would walk separately to the Garden of Gethsemane and there
they would meet in the shadow of the olive trees. After several weeks, Joseph took
his cloak and wrapped it around her, saying: “From this day forth you shall be to
me as a dear and loving wife, and I shall be to you a husband and protector.” So
Joseph took Miriam to his small house in Jerusalem and they lived there as husband
and wife. Miriam came to know the love and devotion of a strong and gentle man.
The seasons passed and Miriam delivered, giving birth to twin sons. The first son
was named Yeshua, and the second son was named Judas Thomas. The young family lived
in Jerusalem for a year after the birth of the twins. When Joseph finished his work
in Jerusalem, he took his family to Nazareth. No one in Nazareth ever knew that Miriam
was the daughter of their most infamous rabbi. No one ever knew about the prostitution,
or of anything else. One day Joseph simply returned with his young family in tow.
Joseph and Miriam were a very happy and loving couple. At the ages of ten, Joseph
began teaching his sons the trade of carpentry. Yeshua was a natural born carpenter.
But Thomas was not. The twins were as different from each other as night and day.
As a child, Yeshua was always bright and cheerful. He was always anxious to please
his parents. And he loved to talk scriptures and the law with his mother.
But Thomas was a dark and brooding child. He was always causing trouble in Nazareth.
The relationship between Yeshua and Thomas was always difficult. Thomas seemed to
have a mean streak, Yeshua did not. They grew up together in Nazareth, and Joseph
and Miriam had many more children. Yeshua seemed to possess his mother’s gentle nature,
while Thomas possessed the nature of his natural father, the Roman soldier named
Yeshua’s birth was not heralded by angels. There was no virgin birth, no shepherds
tending their flocks, no star of Bethlehem, no three wise men, and no stable because
there was no room at the inn. None of these things actually happened. Yeshua was
born just as we are born. And it is in that fact, that you will find the greatest
miracle of all.
As for the natural father of Yeshua, Pensius the Roman decturian, he died in a cholera
epidemic around 12 CE, in the city of Ostia in Italy. Yeshua never met his natural
father; he never knew his name.
Azrael’s Commentary - Alpheus
The brother of Joseph and the uncle of Yeshua. Alpheus earned his living through
the sale of wool from his flocks, as well as the sale of meat which his sheep provided.
When Yeshua was a boy, he would go with his cousins to take the sheep into the hills
of Galilee for summer grazing.
Alpheus was always skeptical of his religious faith. During the days of Yeshua, Galilee
was a mixture of many nationalities and languages, and Alpheus was often embarrassed
that Jews should think themselves superior to Gentiles. He thought that the claim
of Jews to be a “chosen people” was arrogant and divisive. To combat this attitude,
Alpheus proved eager to do business with anyone who had money, be they Roman, Greek,
Parthian or Jewish.
The greatest tragedy in the life of Alpheus was the senseless death of his brother
Joseph. He blamed the Zealots for that more than he blamed the Romans. With the death
of Joseph, Alpheus ceased to believe in God. He spent a great part of his life helping
to take care of and provide for Joseph’s family.
But when it was Sabbath he entered into the synagogue, according to his custom, to
teach; and they which heard were astonished at his word, and they spoke among themselves,
“From whence comes this man his learning? From what source is all his wisdom come?
Is this not Joseph’s son come home again? Do not his mother and brethren live here
...and when it was night the Master went again unto his mother’s house and, going
in, all they which were within leaped for joy to see him.
For it was reported that the Romans had come to take captive Yeshua the son of Joseph