The Youthful Yeshua
“The Word became Flesh and Tabernacled Among us” (John 1:14)
The Gospel of Luke records that Gabriel appeared to Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, when he was serving as a priest in the temple, to inform him that he would have a son. According to Luke 1:5, Zacharias, was a priest of the division of Abijah. The Abijah priests served during the second half of the fourth Jewish month, this would mean that John the Baptist was conceived in late June.
Then, in Luke 1:24-31, we see that Mary conceived Yeshua in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. This means that Yeshua was conceived during the latter part of the Jewish month of Kislev, or late December. It is possible then that God’s true light – Yeshua (Luke 2:32) – was conceived during Hanukah, the feast of lights. Yeshua was born nine months later, most likely during the Feast of Tabernacles (September).
John in His gospel hints at the Feast of Tabernacles being the time of Yeshua’s birth by writing, “and The Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us” (John 1:14).”
Circumcision and dedication of Yeshua
Yeshua was circumcised on the eight day according to the Torah regulations (Lev. 12:3), which established the covenant bond between God and the Jews. Why the eighth day? Eight in Bible numerics is new beginning. The baby after circumcision enter into a covenant relationship with God. Also, it is the time when the clotting agents (prothrombin and thrombokinase), in the baby’s blood are at a peak. Forty days after the birth of Yeshua, He is dedicated to His Father at the temple. Yeshua is fully immersed into the Jewish culture from birth.
Mary was instructed by the angel Gabriel to name her baby Yeshua, “because He will save His people” (Matthew 1:21). Yeshua is derived from the Hebrew verb, yasha, that means “to deliver, save, or rescue,” and is also stated as “ yehōshu’a” which means “The Lord is my salvation”, and is translated as Joshua in English. The importance of the modern use of Yeshua, rather than Jesus, would be that it represents His Hebrew identity, and the name draws people closer to the full purpose of the Messiah – to save His people. Joshua then was a prophetic type of Yeshua, as he led the nation of Israel out of the wilderness into the promised land.
The question that needs to be answered is how did two names, i.e. Joshua and Jesus, which came from the same Hebrew verb, end up to be so different? The answer is that “yehōshu’a” was phonetically translated from the Hebrew Old Testament, while Jesus was phonetically translated from the Greek New Testament Iēsous as “Jesus”.
- Bethlem is built on the slopes of the Judean mountains, so people establishing a home would dig a cave into the limestone rock and build a house at the entrance. The cave would become a “barn,” in which livestock was kept. So Yeshua was born in the second guest room – a barn, and laid in a manger. The manger was carved out of a block of Jerusalem limestone, not made from wood as depicted in nativity scenes.
- Humble shepherds are the first visitors to the King.
- Yeshua was not welcomed at the temple by the dominant religious party of the time, the Pharisees, or the more elite, wealthy, upper-class Sadducees, but by two grey haired old people – Simeon and Anna.
- The first male child must be consecrated to God, so Joseph and Mary offer a sacrifice of “a pair of turtle doves and two young pigeons (Luke 2:24; Lev. 12:8)”. An offering made by those who were poor.
Messianic Prophecy Concerning Bethlehem and Galilee
It was necessary that Jesus be born in Bethlehem and raised in Galilee to fulfil important messianic prophecies. Micah prophesies about 700 BC:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
Isaiah prophesies the location of Messiah’s ministry in the 7th century BC.
“There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future, he will honour Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan – The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:1-2, quoted in Matthew 4:15-16).
The Israelite tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun populated the area west of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus lived and ministered. Note, the narrative of the life of Jesus is rooted in the heart of rural Israel. There is no cultural blending in the life of Jesus that could occur in cities which had Roman and Greek influence.
Prophetic Points of Interest
Approximately 18 months after the birth of Yeshua the Magi pay homage, with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Magi are diaspora Jews who stayed in Babylon rather than return to Jerusalem at the end of the 70 years of captivity. These Jewish Magi understood the significance of the sudden appearance of a star over Israel – Numbers 24:17: “There shall come a star out of Jacob,” it was a messianic sign.
The gifts of the Magi are prophetic:
- Gold for a King
- Frankincense for a High Priest
- Myrrh, a bitter herb also used as an embalming ointment, symbolising the future suffering and death of Yeshua.
Yeshua is our King and High Priest under the order of Melchizedek, but also the Lamb of God.
“We saw his star in the East and have come to worship Him (Matthew 2:2)”. Babylon is directly East of Bethlehem.
Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt to avoid the persecution by Herod, only moving back to Nazareth after his death. Matthew points to Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matthew 2:15), as the prophetic pointer to this change of address.
The use of Hosea 11:1 by Matthew, as a direct prophecy that is fulfilled in Yeshua, requires an explanation. Modern Western hermeneutics (method of interpreting scripture), would say that Matthew is taking Hosea 11:1 out of context. The direct context of Hosea 11:1 is referencing the nation of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, but Matthew 2:21 interprets the scripture as Yeshua and His parents leaving Egypt for Nazareth. The accusation that can be made then, is that the New Testament does not interpret scripture correctly! The confusion in interpretation is as a result of replacement theology, and the Church having divorced itself from its Jewish origins. Matthew is using an example of Jewish hermeneutics that is known as “Midrash”, using a “Pesher” interpretation, where there is a second underlying prophetic meaning to the scripture. Another example would be Joseph being elevated out of the dungeon to a place of authority in the palace of Pharaoh (Genesis 41), which has a Pesher connection to Yeshua’s resurrection from the tomb, to sit at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. A Pesher interpretation is used as a confirmation of prophecy in scripture; it cannot be used to establish doctrine.
At 12 years of age Yeshua travelled with His parents to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover to have His Bar-Mitzvah at the temple. As was custom of the time, the community from Nazareth would travel together with their Rabbi. After His Bar-Mitzvah, Yeshua remained behind in the temple while His parents journeyed home to Nazareth. Was Yeshua disobedient? Or were His parents irresponsible?
To answer the latter question first, as the family travelled with a community the young children would be with their mother, and the older teenagers would be with their father. Joseph would have assumed Yeshua was still with Mary, and Mary would have thought that the Bar-Mitzvah graduate would be travelling with His father.
Yeshua was not being disobedient, as He was obeying the tradition of becoming involved in His father’s work. So, His response to His parent’s concern was “didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s House?”
The Young Messiah
“Didn’t you not know I had to be in my Father’s house (Luke 2:49)”
There are a number of important points that need to be drawn from the statement made by Yeshua:
- The statement implies that Yeshua was now occupied with His Father’s business.
- Being in the Temple sitting with the teachers of the law, He is obviously not referring to Joseph (who would have taught Him the Torah at home), but His heavenly Father.
- It is important to note that at just 12 years old Yeshua has a clear Messianic identity.
- Yeshua uses Avi “my Father”, not Avinu “our Father”.
- The Teachers of the law present would have recognized Yeshua’s Messianic allusions; the intimate language was not common and it would have been considered offensive for a man to use such language.
When the young Yeshua used the word “Avi” for God, He did so intentionally, making a Kesher connection with three well know scriptures:
- 2 Samuel 7:14 “I will be to him a father and he shall be to me a son…”
- Psalm 2:7 “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “you are my son; today I have begotten you.”
- Psalm 89:26-27 “He shall cry to me, “You are my Father (Avi), my God (Eli), and the rock of my salvation. And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of earth.”
Kesher is dealt with in detail in Getting to Know Yeshua Part 4, so a short explanation will suffice for now: Kesher is a Hebrew word meaning “link;” speaking Kesher was a common practice in the time of Yeshua. It involved a person making a statement which would “link” to two or more scriptures. Thus, a simple sentence in a conversation would have a far greater, extended interpretation.
- The section “The Young Messiah” is built on the foundations of the chapter YESHUA’S EARLY MESSIANIC IDENITY BY D. A. Pryor, Behold the Man, Centre for Judaic Christian studies, 2005. P31.
Jesus the Carpenter?
Yeshua was the first-born son, so He could possibly have had the same privileges of Joseph, the patriarch Jacob’s favoured son – He would not have had to work for a living. So instead of working, did Jesus spend His days following His Avi’s business, reading and studying the Tanakh in the synagogue?
We are not told about His life from His Bar-Mitzvah to His commencement of service at age 30, but some scriptures may help us understand some aspects of His life, from 13-30 years old:
“a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3).
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we” (Hebrews 4:15).
“Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
The last time we read of Yeshua’s father Joseph is at Yeshua’s Bar-Mitzvah. Then, while on the cross, Yeshua passes authority over His mother Mary, to the beloved disciple John (John 19:26-27). This implies that Yeshua had authority over His mother, for this to be the case, Joseph must have died. This would mean that Yeshua, as the first-born son, would have taken on the mantel of father in the household. So, the answer seems to be that Yeshua had been a builder, earning a living during the week to support the family. Then studying the Tanakh (Old Testament) at night and on the sabbath.
Joseph, Yeshua’s father, is referred to as a “carpenter” in Matthew 13:55, and Yeshua is referred to as a “carpenter” in Mark 6:3. However, the Greek term tekton, translated as carpenter does not carry this meaning. Tekton means craftsman and builder which applied to stonemasonry work as well as woodwork. Our English word “architect” means master builder and is made from two Greek words – archi: meaning chief, and tekton: meaning builder.
The idea that Yeshua was a craftsman and builder is more accurate than carpenter, as in Israel most trees are grown for agriculture, such as palm trees, olive trees, fig trees, almond trees etc. There are very few trees in Israel large enough, and with hard wood suitable for building. With the abundance of high quality building stone in Israel, many buildings were made of stone, while the poor built their homes from stick frames filled in with dried mud. As European homes were mostly made of wood, Biblical translators with their cultural bias, translated tekton as carpenter.
Sepphoris and Capernaum
The main building project at that time of Yeshua was the rebuilding of Sepphoris, a city that was a mere three miles from Nazareth. The city had been badly damaged in an earthquake and builders from Nazareth would have been employed in its reconstruction. It is very likely both Joseph and Yeshua worked there at some stage.
- God established the culture into which He introduced His son. Examples being Yeshua’s conception, birth, circumcision, dedication and Bar-Mitzvah.
- Yeshua is born into a humble life.
- Yeshua from an early age had a messianic identity.
- Yeshua spoke in Kesher.
- Yeshua most likely became a builder, taking over the responsibilities of being the head of the family. He knew the responsibilities and hardships of caring for a family from an early age.