Matthew 1: 18 -25
Note, that the text tells us that Mary “was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together she was found with child by the Holy Spirit…”. Several key points should be understood. First, in Hebrew culture the marriage was a two-step process – betrothal and then the coming together – there was a waiting period in between. However, the marriage was established at betrothal. Thus, to be with child from another man during the interim period would have been adultery. This is why Joseph had do consider divorcing Mary. Fundamentally, you can’t have divorce unless you’re married to begin with so Joseph and Mary were married at the time she became pregnant.
Next, we need to understand why Joseph would agree to take Mary into his home as his wife. The most obvious answer is because the Angel told him to. However, it goes deeper than that. As we are told in the genealogy that opens the gospel Joseph is a decedent of King David. This fact is important. David’s son once tried to overthrow him. To do this he took control of the palace and the army and then he took ten of David’s wives as his own – he had marital relations with them. King David recaptures his kingdom and God tells David to take the ten wives back into his house, to care for them as his wives but to never sleep with them again. Of course, Joseph would have been familiar with this history. He would have immediately recognized the role into which he had been cast. He most likely would have been honored and humbled to take Mary into his home and he would have never approached her intimately as he would have recognized the Mary is the “spouse of the Holy Spirit”.
Tomorrow: Matthew Chapter 2