If you are unfamiliar with the Jewish wedding ritual please view the PowerPoint on Betrothal in the Bible Study portion of this blog
When did the Annunciation take place?
Many biblical scholars believe that it took place about the 7th month of their betrothal.
Why did not Mary ask for proof as Zachariah did?
Mary believed the Angel, but considering her circumstance wanted to know how this was to come about as to whom the father was to be. If, as I have suggested, that Joseph had made a vow of virginity and she was already consecrated to him, what was she to do? In Zachariah’s circumstance he wanted proof so that he could believe.
Why did the Angel tell Mary of Elizabeth’s pregnancy being that Mary already believed?
I believe that the proof of Mary’s pregnancy, Elizabeth’s pregnancy, was for Mary’s parents or guardian. It would be extremely difficult to believe that Mary had not dreamt this encounter with an Angel. What if this was not a dream and they failed to act. This failure to act would put Mary’s life in danger. The proof that this was not a dream lie in Elizabeth’s pregnancy and they could not delay because they were on a strict time line. If Mary was pregnant, what could they do. The only answer was to keep this quiet and visit Elizabeth.
Did Mary go alone to visit Elizabeth?
Scripture tells us that “During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,” (Luke 1:39). The “town in Judah” is recognized by many biblical scholars as the town of Ain Karim about 3 miles from Jerusalem. Traveling through the hill country could mean that her travels would have taken her through the land of Samaria. As you know the Samaritans were no friends of the Jew and that country was very rugged and travel would have been very difficult. The distance would have been approximately 90 miles and travel time about a week. Logic tells us that she likely traveled with her parents or a guardian. Whoever she traveled with would have been a trusted person for confirmation of her condition would have placed her life in mortal danger. So the short answer would be that did not travel alone, but with someone she trusted
When did Mary tell Joseph of her condition?
Although Scripture does not tell us, I would suggest that she told him in the presence of her parents or custodian who had witnessed Elizabeth’s condition and her greeting Mary. She probably told him upon her return from Elizabeth’s. That would make her about 4 months pregnant, figuring about a week to get ready to go to Elizabeth’s , one week travel each way and 3 months at Elizabeth’s.
What do you think was Joseph’s reaction to Mary’s disclosure?
I think Joseph’s first reaction was trying to understand what he was hearing from Mary and her companions. He needed time to try and comprehend what was happening. As he came to understand what Mary had told him, I believe that he reconciled himself that what was happening was between God and Mary. Scripture tells us that Joseph was a just/righteous man (Matthew 1:19), a follower of the Law. The only reason he would not expose her to the Law was that he truly believed her. He decides to protect Mary and the Child by marrying her then quietly stepping aside by divorcing her. He did not want to get in the way of God’s plan whatever that might be. Joseph probably spent some time praying about this. This time scholars believe was about one week and is referred to as Joseph’s Gethsemane.
The Angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him ” Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” (Matthew 1:20) What does it mean “to take your wife into your home”?
The taking of the betrothed wife “into your home” is the completing part of the Jewish marriage rite. In the taking “into your home” the marriage would be consummated and the celebration would go on for 7 days.
Mary is about 5 months pregnant, her clothing continues to hide the pregnancy but not for long. To protect her and the child Joseph takes her into his home or the place he has prepared for them. The people of Nazareth can count and would easily know the child was conceived prior to the marriage. They must get out of town. The census, he must enroll in Bethlehem. But where will they stay, the child is not due for another 4 months. What do you think they did?
Elizabeth knows of Mary’s condition. Why not stay with her and Zachariah and her new born son John. They live just a few miles from Bethlehem. A perfect solution. As the time for Mary’s deliver approaches they can go on to Bethlehem, enroll in the census and find a place to live. They cannot return to Nazareth because the people can count..
Being that Jerusalem was just a short distance from Ain Karim, about 3 miles, do you think Mary and Joseph visited the Temple?
See Part 3 for the answer.