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Joseph’s adoption the child belongs to the family of David. Matthew sees the virginal conception as the fulfillment of Is 7, 14.


1, 18: Betrothed to Joseph…betrothal was the first part of the marriage, constituting a man and woman as husband and wife. Subsequently infidelity was considered adultery. The betrothal was followed some months later by the husband’s taking his wife into his home, at which time normal married life began. 1, 19: A righteous man…as a devote observer of the Mosaic law, Joseph wished to break his union with someone whom he suspected of gross violation of the law. It is commonly said that the law required him to do so, but the texts usually given in support of that view, e.g., Dt 22, 20-21, do not clearly pertain to Joseph’s situation.


1, 20: The angel of the Lord…in the Old Testament a common designation of God in communication with a human being. In a dream…see 2, 13. 19.22. These dreams may be meant to recall the dreams of Joseph, son of Jacob the patriarch (Gn 37, 5-11.19). A closer parallel is the dream of Amram, father of Moses, related by Josephus.


1, 23: God is with us…God’s promise of deliverance to Judah in Isaiah’s time is seen by Matthew as fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, in whom God is with his people. The name Emmanuel is alluded to at the end of the gospel where the risen Jesus assures his disciples of his continued presence, “…I am with you always, until the end of the age” (28, 20).


1, 25: Until she bore a son…the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus. The Greek word translated “until” does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus’ birth, nor does it exclude it.


Matthew 1: 18-25


18 Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 20 Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. 21 She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:


23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, And they shall name him Emmanuel,”


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