A Note On Yeshua's Childhood

by Glen Penton

Israel's Messiah Yeshua lived His physical life here on earth as a Galilean Jew. Galilean Judaism was a culture of serious poverty, sincere worship, and deep resentment towards both the Romans and the rich, hypocritical religious establishment in Jerusalem. The death rate was high. People married young, had lots of kids so some might survive, and died young. Yeshua's mother Miriam was probably only in her early to mid teens when He was born. Galilean religious ideas tended to revolve around personal morality and messianic hopes. Those messianic hopes often led to false messiahs, revolutions, and harsher oppression by the Romans. On the other hand, since Nazareth was a suburb of Sipporis, Gallilee's largest city, it was probably less poor and more cosmopolitan than most of Galilee.

According to Matthew 13:55-56, four of Yeshua's younger brothers survived and became adults, of whom James (i.e., Jacob) was the eldest. At least two of his sisters also were still alive when He was preaching. As for Yeshua's cousin Yochanan (John), they presumably saw each other from time to time, but because of the miracles associated with their births, both families probably felt they had to be extra careful and keep a low profile, so as not to attract the attention of any of Herod's secret police.

A year before Yeshua's death, people were still saying "...Joseph..we know...." (John 6:42) Since the verb is in a present progressive tense, it seems that Joseph was still alive and available at that time. But the Scriptures are so silent about him, it seems likely that there is a story to be told. In a small town obsessed with personal morality and messianic hope, what kind of rumors circulated about Yeshua's birth? Did Yeshua know personally the confusion a kid feels when his parents are deeply ambivalent about his very existence--and can't talk about it, not even with each other? When "Miriam kept all these things and pondered them in her heart," (Luke 2:51) was there nobody she felt free to talk with about it all, for decades on end, not even Joseph?

How intimately did Yeshua understand the heart of a kid who feels that it's his fault when his parents argue and then break up? When Hebrews 2:17-18 and 4:15 talks about His participating in our weaknesses, temptations, and sufferings, can it mean that He found out what it's like to be the kid that everybody calls "the little bastard"? Mark 6:3 implies as much. People referred to Yeshua as "the Son of Miriam", rather than "the Son of Joseph". In that culture, referring to someone by the mother's name, instead of the father's, implied illegitimacy. Might there be a real special bond between Yeshua and kids whose parents are ashamed of them? With boys who wonder why dad's so angry? It's not a very traditional question to raise about the holy family, but did He perhaps experience the special temptations that come only to those of us who hail from dysfunctional families? How intimately did He learn about how good, godly, well-meaning family members sometimes nonetheless hurt each other again and again? When things got too unpleasant, did Joseph leave Nazereth for the anonymity of the big city of Sipporis? Might the Gospel writers have known Joseph and respected his desire for privacy when they wrote Yeshua's biographies? Could disappointment with God have been behind Miriam's and her children's inability to discern what God was doing during the years of Yeshua's ministry? Was it only at His death that that sword pierced her soul?

Much of what I've written here amounts to well-founded speculation. Whether I'm exactly right about it all or not, Yeshua has already been through whatever sorrows, rejection, or temptations you are experiencing now, or ever will experience. And He loves you and wants to be your closest Friend and walk you through it all. Trust and follow Him, starting now. He'll help you make it.


Related articles of interest

Matthew 13:55-56 "Isn't this the carpenter's Son? Isn't His mother called Miriam, and His brothers, Jacob and Joseph and Shimon and Judah? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"

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John 6:42 "They were saying, 'Isn't this Yeshua, the son of Joseph, Whose father and mother we know?' "

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Hebrews 2:17-18 "Therefore, He had to become like His brothers and sisters in every way, so that He could be a merciful and trustworthy cohen gadol in divine matters, to make atonement for the People's sins. For since He Himself has suffered and was tempted, He can help those who are tempted."

Hebrews 4:15 "We do not have a cohen gadol who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in every way like we are, but without sinning. "

Mark 6:3 "Isn't this the Carpenter, the son of Miriam, and brother of Jacob and Joseph and Judah and Shimon? Aren't His sisters here with us?"

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Luke 2:34-35 "And Shimon blessed them and said to Miriam His mother, 'Look, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed. And a sword will pierce your own soul also...."

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