|Chapter 1||The Childhood of Jesus|
Joseph Takes Mary Into His House
1. JOSEPH was building a house in the country between Nazareth and Jerusalem.
2. A distinguished citizen of Jerusalem was having this house built there to serve as an inn, for the Nazarenes had no shelter all the way to Jerusalem.
3. AND MARY, who was brought up in the temple, had matured, and the Law of Moses required that she be given from the temple.
4. Messengers were therefore sent into all of Judea with these tidings to summon the fathers - that if one were found worthy, he was to take the maiden into his house.
5. When these tidings reached Joseph, he quickly laid his axe aside and hastened to Jerusalem and there to the designated meeting and council chamber in the temple.
6. Three days later the applicants again met in the same chamber, and each candidate for Mary handed a fresh lily stalk to the priest as previously determined upon. The priest then went into the sanctuary of the temple with the stalks and there prayed.
7. When he had completed his prayer, he came out with the stalks and returned to each his stalk.
8. All of the stalks thereupon became spotted - only the one last given to Joseph remained fresh and unblemished.
9. But a few began to Find fault at this and said that this test favored Joseph, was therefore not binding and requested another test which would be above reproach.
10. The priest, somewhat provoked at this, immediately had Mary sent for, handed her a dove and told her to walk into the center of the candidates, there to let the dove fly free.
11. And before ordering the dove freed, he said to the candidates, 'Behold, you false interpreters of the sign of Jehovah! This dove is a pure, innocent creature and has no ear for our discussion,
12. for it lives only in the will of the Lord and understands only the almighty language of God.
13. Hold high your stalks! - Upon whose stalk this dove settles, once it has been freed by this maiden, and upon whose head it will sit, he shall take Mary!'
14. With this the candidates were satisfied and agreed, 'Even so, this shall be a sure sign!'
15. And when Mary freed the dove at the word of the priest, it promptly flew over to Joseph, settled on his stalk and thereupon on Joseph's head.
16. Here the priest declared, 'Thus has the Lord willed it! Upon you, oh worthy craftsman, is fallen the unerring lot for the maiden of the Lord! Take her in the name of the Lord into your unblemished house for future care. Amen.'
17. When Joseph heard this, he appealed to the priest, saying, 'Hear me, oh anointed servant of the Lord according to the Law of Moses, the faithful servant of the Lord God Zebaoth - I am already an old man with grown-up sons at home and have been a widower for a long time. I shall become an object of ridicule before the sons of Israel if I take this little maiden into my house.
18. Therefore let the choice be taken once more and let me stand aside, so I will not be counted among the candidates.'
19. Here the priest raised his hand and warned, 'Joseph - fear the Lord God! Do you not know what He did to Dathan, to Korah and to Abiram?
20. Behold, the earth opened up and all were swallowed by her because of their obstinacy! Do you suppose that He could not do the same to you?
21. I tell you, now that you have seen and recognized the unerring sign of Jehovah, do therefore obey the Lord who is almighty and just and always chastens the obstinate and the deserters of His will!
22. But otherwise be greatly afraid for your house, whether the Lord will not also visit upon your house what He visited upon Dathan, Korah and Abiram.'
23. At this Joseph was filled with dread, and he said to the priest in great fear, 'So then pray for me, that the Lord may once more be gracious and merciful toward me, and then give me the maiden according to His will.'
24. The priest now went inside and prayed for Joseph before the Holy of Holies, and the Lord spoke to the there praying priest:
25. 'Do not trouble Me the man whom I have chosen - for more justly than he walks none in Israel, and none on the whole earth, and none before My throne in all the heavens!
26. Now go out and give the maiden, whom I have raised Myself, to the most righteous of men on the earth.'
27. And the priest smote his breast and exclaimed, 'O Lord, almighty God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, be merciful to me a sinner before You, for now I know that You will judge Your people!'
28. Thereupon the priest arose, went out and with a blessing in the name of the Lord gave the maiden to the affrightened Joseph
29. and said to him, 'Joseph, you are found just before the Lord, therefore He has chosen you from among many thousands. Go in peace. Amen.'
30. Here Joseph took Mary and said, 'May the alone holy will of My Lord and my God always be done! What You, O Lord, give, is always good - therefore I gladly and most willingly take this gift from Your hand. Now bless her for me and me for her, so I may be worthy of her before You now, as always. Your will be done, amen.'
31. When Joseph had said this before the Lord he was lifted up in his heart, then went out of the temple with Mary and led her into the land of Nazareth and there into his humble dwelling.
32. Much work awaited Joseph, so he wasted no time at home and accordingly said to Mary,
33. 'See, Mary, I have taken you into my home from the temple of the Lord, my God, according to His will. But I cannot remain with you now to protect you, for I must fulfill my contract to complete the house I showed you on our trip here.
34. But be assured that you will not be left at home alone. For I have a closely related housekeeper who is devout and just - she and my youngest son will be with you, and the grace of the Lord and His blessing will not leave you.
35. In a short time I and my four sons will return to you, and I shall be your guide in the ways of the Lord. The Lord God will now watch over you and my house, amen.'
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