Joseph Keeps His Family Safe

Joseph lived and worked in Nazareth, near the Sea of Galilee. He was betrothed (or engaged) to Mary when she discovered that she was going to have a child. Joseph wanted to avoid scandal, so he decided to send her away quietly, so she would not be ashamed in the village. But an angel appeared to him in a dream, telling Joseph that it was God's plan that Joseph should keep Mary and the child safe.

The Joseph of the Old Testament, for whom he was named, was also a great dreamer.

Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, and after the Wise Men warned him that King Herod the Great was searching for the baby, an angel appeared again to Joseph in a dream, telling him to take Mary and the Baby Jesus to Egypt, where Herod's soldiers would not follow them.

The family stayed in Egypt until Joseph knew that Herod was dead, and it was safe to go back to Palestine. Joseph took Mary and Jesus home to Nazareth, where he seemed to have taught Jesus his own trade of building.

The word used for Joseph's profession is most properly translated builder or contractor, someone who in that time and place probably worked in stone. He may have been a subcontractor on some of the many large Roman building projects undertaken in his area at that time. "Carpenter" is a Northern European translation made by people who built their houses of wood, rather than of stone.

Joseph also took his family to Jerusalem from Nazareth (a journey of about 65 miles) every spring to celebrate the feast of the Passover.

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