Why did Joseph and Mary stay in Bethlehem for 2+ years after Jesus was born?

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JoshInRI | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Dec 23 2014 6:20 AM

Curious...feel free to speculate....

Why did Joseph and Mary stay in Bethlehem for 2+ years after Jesus was born?

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Levi Durfey | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 23 2014 6:42 AM

They could have felt like it would be a good place to start over without the small-town gossip of Nazareth about Mary being pregnant with another man's child (as the town gossips would have supposed).

Perhaps also they might have thought that Micah 5:2's prophecy about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem meant that he was supposed to live there.

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Sam Henderson | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 23 2014 7:02 AM

Family commitments. Joseph and/or Mary are of Judean stock, perhaps the offspring of settlers with Hasmonean/Sadducean political sympathies. I remember reading references to research in a book by archeologist Jonathan Reed that indicated Galilee was a largely a depopulated territory at the time Hasmoneans like Alexander Janneaus started expanding into the area as part of a vision of a greater Israel as a contribution to God's great plan for a re-established Davidic empire. To do that they needed settlers who would see the hardships they might endure establishing northern settler communities as part of a divine plan for a reinvigorated greater Israel.

Joseph and Mary have a clear identity as proud Galileans, but they also have a heritage that involves stong and active kinsip obligations centred around the region of Bethlehem and the Judean hill country. They'll take their time to resestablish those links before heading north again to their Galilean home.

We were asked to specultate. Feel free to shoot me down. Logos has some good stuff from Sean Freyne about Galilean identity in the first century. It could do with more material from writers like Reed and other specialist on Galilee in the first century.

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Paul C | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 23 2014 7:23 AM

Sam Henderson:
Feel free to shoot me down.
Sam Henderson:
as part of a vision of a greater Israel as a contribution to God's great plan for a re-established Davidic empire.
It's not my intent to shoot you down.... But ...I don't see that God had a great plan for a re-established Davidic empire. But rather a greater empire ... The Kingdom of God. Consider the fact that God cursed/condemned the Davidic lineage so that no further (earthly) kings could come from that line. (Jehoiakim and Jeconiah )

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steve clark | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 23 2014 7:46 AM

Perhaps they stayed in Bethlehem a little over 41 days.

In Luke 2:21-38 details how Joseph & Mary fulfilled the requirements of the law. Then in Luke 2:39 it says after fulfilling the requirements of the law that they returned to Nazareth.

In Matt 2:1-8 we hear of the Magi and Herod. In Matt 2:9 the Magi went on their way probably headed toward Bethlehem. But in the same verse it says that the star appeared and lead them to the house where Jesus was. It doesn't say that was in Bethlehem. So it is possible that the house was in Nazareth.

Edit: Or that the Magi's visit was within the time that Joseph, Mary & Jesus were still in Bethlehem. And Herod used 2 year old children to be sure he was thorough.

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 23 2014 8:33 AM

JoshInRI:
Why did Joseph and Mary stay in Bethlehem for 2+ years after Jesus was born?

How do you know they stayed there 2+ years?

Yes, I know that after the Magi snuck out, Herod had all the boys 2 years and younger killed, but he may have just wanted to be overly thorough (he was quite paranoid). The two year old mark may have simply been an edict to kill all nursing children, since children (at least in Old Testament times) may have nursed until they were about three years old.

Yes, the star appeared some time before they arrived, but we don't know how long before. 

I'm not saying they didn't stay there that long, it's just that we can't know that they did.

I just reread the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke and see no reference to a length of time that Mary and Joseph stayed in Bethlehem. In fact Luke's account suggests they only stayed there not much more than 40 days (Luke 2:39, cf. Lev.12:1-8), though in his account they return to Galilee directly, not by way of Egypt.

(If I missed some other detail, please let me know.)

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Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 23 2014 8:50 AM

Admittedly I am not a sophisticated user of Logos/Verbum.  That said, I am curious about the technique a person would use to research this question.  I've been working on this for a couple of hours haphazardly and don't have any satisfying results. Here is what I have done:

1.  Opened my favorite bible translation plus some others

2.  Found the relevant passages that have been mentioned here

3.  Scrolled down through the Passage Guide to try and locate any relevant information, focusing on timelines or timing

4.  Same with Passage Analysis, Factbook, and Timeline

5.  Opened the commentaries/monographs I have to try and locate some specific analysis

Others have already noted several points regarding timing of circumcision and presentation .. some number of days.  Herod and the massacre of the infants 2 yrs and younger seems to have some bearing.

Am I overlooking a research technique?

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 23 2014 9:06 AM

Steve:
Am I overlooking a research technique?

I don't think so. That's basically what I did. I also did two other things: 1) I consulted the Faithlife Study Bible, but mostly to confirm what I already had concluded by reading the text. 2) I ran a Bible search on the phrase "two years," in case I had missed something.

A basic careful reading of the text, is the main thing though: What does it say? What doesn't it say?

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Bob Fuller | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 23 2014 9:10 AM

I'm with Rich on this. It's as likely that the 2 year old reference for Herod has to do with his question as to when the star appeared (Matthew 2:7). And assuming "the family" was staying with people they knew and in their home, the visit of the magi at the house where they were could easily have been very close to the shepherd's visit - a matter of a few days (likely after his presentation in the temple).

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JoshInRI | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 6:13 AM

Thank you Rich and others.  The question was mentioned in a Bible Study and I was curious for an answer and how Logos could be used to help answer it.  You were all helpful and a blessing.

Peace,

Joshua

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Justin Gatlin | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 9:43 AM

steve clark:

In Matt 2:1-8 we hear of the Magi and Herod. In Matt 2:9 the Magi went on their way probably headed toward Bethlehem. But in the same verse it says that the star appeared and lead them to the house where Jesus was. It doesn't say that was in Bethlehem. So it is possible that the house was in Nazareth.

This seems unlikely. Go a little farther down and you will see they fled to Egypt because Herod was searching for Jesus in Bethlehem. If he were already in Nazareth, that would seem very odd.

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Bryan S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 11:23 AM

Ok here is how I interpret what the Bible says,

The wise men HAD LESS THAN FORTY DAYS (I'm Not yelling here) from Jesus’ birth to visit Him at Bethlehem, or He would have been gone from there.

Luke 2:21-22 says, “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord.”

The length of the days of purification is listed in Leviticus 12:1-8.  Which basically adds up to 41 days.  8 days to circumcision and then another 33 days after.

So the wise men had LESS THAN FORTY DAYS to visit Jesus in Bethlehem, or He would have been gone to Jerusalem. After that, He would have been back in Nazareth for a short time, and then in Egypt for a period of time.

Luke 2:25-39 says, “And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the lord, they returned into galilee, to their own city nazareth.”

 

Matthew 2:13-16 says, “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into egypt, and be thou there until i bring thee word: for herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.” After the above things took place, then they fled to Egypt for a time.

So the wise men brought their gifts to Jesus when He was less than forty days old, while He was still at Bethlehem.

EDIT: I also forgot this

Matthew 2:1-16 says, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?

The passage says the wise men asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” They were looking for the King that was newly born. They were not looking for a two year old boy.

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 11:27 AM

Bryan, you might want to edit your 3rd quote source.


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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 11:27 AM

Unless we start quoting Logos resources that speak to this issue, we should go to christiandiscourse.com where the company has kindly set up space for theological discussion in general.

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Bryan S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 11:39 AM

Lee:

Unless we start quoting Logos resources that speak to this issue, we should go to christiandiscourse.com where the company has kindly set up space for theological discussion in general.

So the Bible is not a Logos resource? What? (shaking my head now) 

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it's been found difficult and not tried.

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Bryan S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 11:40 AM

Denise:

Bryan, you might want to edit your 3rd quote source.

Little help please? Smile

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it's been found difficult and not tried.

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 11:43 AM

Bryan, I don't fault you for not knowing about this.

The Forums exist to support users, and to promote the company. Forum guidelines are here. General theological discussion fits better elsewhere.

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Bryan S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 11:52 AM

Lee:

Bryan, I don't fault you for not knowing about this.

The Forums exist to support users, and to promote the company. Forum guidelines are here. General theological discussion fits better elsewhere.

Why are you Slamming me for this!!! I did not start this thread! and further more lee why where were you not saying this to the other 13 posters before me... Are you trying to pick a fight with me? I simply answered the mans question, your comments should be directed at everyone and not me!!!

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it's been found difficult and not tried.

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 12:11 PM

Bryan ... 'Luke 2:13-16 says, “And when they were departed, ...'  I think you meant Matthew?

Regarding Lee, we have a gambling den installed in the forum next door, with the betting on how many replies to a Logos thread will occur, before the Logos police are called.  On this one, quite a few of the betters lost big-time (most bets were 6).  Yes, joking.


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Bryan S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 26 2014 12:16 PM

Denise:

Bryan ... 'Luke 2:13-16 says, “And when they were departed, ...'  I think you meant Matthew?

Regarding Lee, we have a gambling den installed in the forum next door, with the betting on how many replies to a Logos thread will occur, before the Logos police are called.  On this one, quite a few of the betters lost big-time (most bets were 6).  Yes, joking.

Yes that should Be Matthew, Thanks I'll change it.

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it's been found difficult and not tried.

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