Jewish Marriage

So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. Matthew 1:19 HCSB

There were three steps in a Jewish marriage. First, the two families agreed to the marriage. Second, there was a public announcement of the engagement. Third, the couple was married and began living together. The engagement period is similar to today’s engagement but unlike today’s engagement in that the relationship could only be broken by divorce or death. An engagement was much like being married, but the couple did not live together or have any intimacy until after the marriage ceremony.

Unfaithfulness carried a severe penalty. Mary was pregnant and had seemingly been unfaithful to Joseph and their engagement. Joseph had the right to divorce Mary, and the Jewish authorities could have had her stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Joseph decided to divorce Mary secretly and not disgrace her publicly. I can only imagine the thoughts that Joseph had when Mary told him she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

Challenge: When has God put a difficulty or problem into your life that was hard to believe? How did you handle it? Follow Joseph’s example and do what is right in every situation, even when it is difficult to do so.

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